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THE MEANING OF INDEPENDENCE FOR OLDER PEOPLE: A CONSTRUCTIVIST GROUNDED THEORY STUDY

Allam , Alison (2015) THE MEANING OF INDEPENDENCE FOR OLDER PEOPLE: A CONSTRUCTIVIST GROUNDED THEORY STUDY. PhD thesis, University of York.

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Abstract

Independence for older people has emerged as an increasingly important policy priority. This policy imperative has been driven by demographic and economic concerns at the forefront of policy debates in the UK and internationally. The aim of this thesis was to gain an insight into the meaning of independence for older people through reviews of the English policy context and existing national and international evidence and interviews with older people. The UK policy context illustrates three, sometimes conflicting, interpretations of independence. These contrasting ideas were also found in the evidence although there is limited empirical research that elucidates the meaning of independence directly from older people. A constructivist grounded theory methodology was used to enable theoretical and empirical exploration. This inherently iterative approach informed the choice of methods and how the primary data was collected and managed. Analysis of the findings showed that independence is individually constructed and comprises a number of different dimensions. These dimensions can be grouped into two distinct, but interlinked core categories - ‘a sense of independence - dynamic and interactive identity’; and ‘the practice of independence - dynamic and interactive agency’. The salience of these categories was shaped by older people’s life experiences, personal characteristics and wider social/cultural discourses and could change depending on individual circumstances, preferences and context. These findings have implications for policy and practice. First, the value that older people attribute to independence is compatible with that evident in current policy. However, the points of dissonance between policy interpretations of the meaning of independence and older people’s constructs of independence could have serious implications for how older people experience policy, service provision, practice. Second, policy and practice interpretations of independence should aim to be consistent with the aspirations of older people accessing services so that they are able to experience the ‘independence’ they desire.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of York > Social Policy and Social Work (York)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.682740
Depositing User: Alison Allam
Date Deposited: 20 Apr 2016 12:04
Last Modified: 08 Sep 2016 13:33
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/12407

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