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Old? Older? Elderly? Co-constructing ageing in research
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Demographic Data Base. (ALC)ORCID iD: 0000-0002-1830-9941
2015 (English)Conference paper, Abstract (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

In an ongoing study I use wardrobe interviews to explore experiences of ageing and cultural meaning making of age. The informants, aged between 62 and 94, talked of style preferences in dress and of norms in relation to age appropriateness and to bodily changes.

In my paper I will discuss age categorisations from a methodological point of view. Different divisions have been discussed for when people are to be considered “old”. In my research I have used 60 as a lower age limit, with no upper one. The study’s purpose is to explore, problematize and nuance experiences of ageing from an emic perspective, with attention to ethnographic detail: letting the women’s voices be heard. I do not see the age category of “older” or “elderly” as monolithic but as diverse. For instance, health and mobility have an impact on feeling old, so that an informant in her sixties, with health problems express feeling old and tired, whereas a chronologically older and healthy informant does not. When submitting articles information of the informants’ chronological age is often requested by reviewers. Specifying this in a sense contributes to making age an explanation and description.

In my presentation I will focus on different categorisations in terms of age, used by the informants and in theoretical literature. I intend to explore dilemmas and ambiguities around this, in relation to work in an ethnographic tradition, not striving for finite answers but opening for fruitful questioning and discussions. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2015. 51-51 p.
Keyword [en]
ageing, age, old, methods, interviews, gender, classs
Keyword [sv]
åldrande, äldre, metod, intervjuer, ålder
National Category
Research subject
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-112432OAI: diva2:877553
33. Nordic ethnology and folklore Conference, Copenhagen 2015
I garderoben: kvinnor, kläder och åldrande
Riksbankens Jubileumsfond, P11 0353 1
Available from: 2015-12-07 Created: 2015-12-07 Last updated: 2016-01-18Bibliographically approved

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Lövgren, Karin
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