A Cultural Analysis of Ageing: Baby Boomers and the Lived Experience of Extended Youthfulness

Brown, Neil Mackenzie. 2005. A Cultural Analysis of Ageing: Baby Boomers and the Lived Experience of Extended Youthfulness. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

The thesis examines how contemporary members of the so-called baby boom generation (born between 1946-1964) in the UK, Ireland and North America present themselves in relation to ageing. Focusing upon the resources or categories they draw upon to do so, in an in-depth, semi-structured, interview situation.

Much of the previous scholarly research into ageing has focused primarily upon issues relating to either social policy or demography, which, whilst being valid concerns, have tended to neglect broader cultural aspects relating to identity and representations of ageing. These representations currently serve to further distance middle from old age and death, reconfiguring the process of ageing around an extended period of youthfulness. This needs to be addressed, of which my research forms a part. Primarily by interrogating the production of aged subjectivities; to look for evidence of resistance to norms that construct ageing as an inevitable period of uniform decline; to demonstrate how this may be occurring and with what effects, such as for example, a paradoxical contribution to increased ageism.

While people inevitably grow older physiologically, how these processes are understood are neither universal, nor 'natural'. Rather, they are historically specific and are conceived in particular societies in culturally specific practices, ideas and philosophies.

I adopt a discursive approach to identity and ageing. Where the data is not treated as providing the 'answers' to questions of age and identity (Skeggs, 1997) but treated instead as material that requires further explanation and interpretation, and which is itself productive of aged/ageing identities. Viewed in this manner, close attention is paid to the variety of techniques through which the interviewees present themselves in relation to age. Such techniques include for example, the use of narrative, or the rhetorical use of notions of 'experience' or 'generation' as resources for the performance of (aged) identity (Scott, 1992).

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):

https://doi.org/10.25602/GOLD.00028714

Keywords:

ageing, aged subjectivities, identity, baby boomers

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Sociology

Date:

2005

Item ID:

28714

Date Deposited:

08 Jun 2020 09:33

Last Modified:

08 Jun 2020 09:57

URI:

http://research.gold.ac.uk/id/eprint/28714

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