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Is there a place for an ageing subject? Stories of ageing at the University of the Third Age in Poland
Jönköping University, School of Health Science, HHJ, Dep. of Behavioural Science and Social Work. Jönköping University, School of Health Science, HHJ. Research Platform of Social Work. Jönköping University, School of Health Science, HHJ. Ageing - living conditions and health.
2012 (English)In: Sociology, ISSN 0038-0385, E-ISSN 1469-8684, Vol. 46, no 2, 290-305 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The University of the Third Age (U3A) is an organization widely recognized for its achievements in the field of adult education. However, little research to date has addressed the position of the U3A in the context of the societal discourse on ageing. The aim of this study was to examine stories of ageing told by the U3A in Poland and to place these stories within the contemporary discourse of ageing. The study sought to reflect on the role of the U3A in providing an environment that encourages the growth of an ageing subject. The results of this study indicate that rather than resisting ageist discourses, the U3A simply rejects the idea of old age. The U3A characterizes its members as exceptional people who have nothing in common with old people outside of the U3A. Therefore, the U3A plays only a minor role in changing the social circumstances of old people in Poland

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2012. Vol. 46, no 2, 290-305 p.
Keyword [en]
the U3A, discourse of ageing, narratives, ageing subject
National Category
Social Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hj:diva-17047DOI: 10.1177/0038038511419179ISI: 000302101700007OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hj-17047DiVA: diva2:475364
Available from: 2012-01-10 Created: 2012-01-10 Last updated: 2013-09-23Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Spaces of (non)ageing: A discoursive study of inequalities we live by
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Spaces of (non)ageing: A discoursive study of inequalities we live by
2012 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This dissertation examines processes and practices that make certain social categories real in people’s lives. One of these categories is old age and old people. In contemporary societies that are inundated by images of youth, old age is under attack. Old age does not fit into the contemporary framework of idealised lifestyle and images of perfect people. Thus, the main question addressed in this dissertation concerns spaces of ageing, which are societal arenas in which people are expected and/or allowed to become old.

This study investigates discourses of old age within the context of welfare. It describes actions, statements and attitudes related to old age within the context of the welfare state. This study is based on multiple data that include 121 opinion weekly news magazines articles, social policy observations, and two case studies of a non-governmental and a user-organisation. The method of analysis comprises two approaches to discourse: discourse analysis and analysis of discourses. The study adopts a perspective that highlights the contextual, emotional and unstable character of welfare states that undergo constant processes of change. It notes the process of people production based on instilling in them norms and principles that should govern their lives.

The findings of the study illustrate the lack of spaces of ageing in the welfare state context. People are expected not to grow old, and old age remains a misunderstood phenomenon. Therefore, spaces of (non)ageing are invoked to elaborate on these processes. Spaces of (non)ageing  occur in various societal domains and show what is required to avoid becoming old. Spaces of (non)ageing frame the idea of old age as something terrifying and, in many cases, immoral.

The findings of this study are discussed in relation to the processes and practices of inequality (re)production. The complexity and multiperspectivity of understanding such phenomena are taken into consideration. The study invites a perspective of ‘us’ from which to examine social inequalities, and ‘we’ who think and feel at the same time.  

This dissertation is written from a perspective of knowledge, which is always plural, changing and fluid. Therefore, the results are discussed in terms of the production of some knowledges about the researched phenomenon but not as an exhaustive study. The final sections of the dissertation are devoted to a cross-study discussion of new ways of interpreting and describing the research material presented in four sub-studies. This discussion does not aim at obtaining better or more correct results; instead, it aims at presenting a different aspect of these results. It acknowledges different spatial and temporal locations and the ways in which these locations affect the production of knowledge.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Jönköping: School of Health Sciences, 2012. 214 p.
Series
Hälsohögskolans avhandlingsserie, ISSN 1654-3602 ; 24
Keyword
inequalities, discourse, welfare culture, old age
National Category
Social Work
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:hj:diva-17036 (URN)978-91-85835-23-2 (ISBN)
Public defence
2012-01-19, Forum Humanum, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2012-01-10 Created: 2012-01-09 Last updated: 2012-12-06Bibliographically approved

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