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Looking back and moving forward : a biographical approach to ageing.

Clarke, Amanda (2001) Looking back and moving forward : a biographical approach to ageing. PhD thesis, University of Sheffield.

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In contrast to much gerontological research, which provides only a glimpse of the lived experiences of later life, this study investigated the views, practices and circumstances of older people using a biographical approach. Men and women presented a variety of meanings concerning later life and their stories both reflected and resisted some of the commonly held and socially constructed views about later life. All said that they did not feel old, although participants described times in their lives when they did feel old: when they were ill, made redundant or bereaved. Growing older was linked to illness, decline and burden even when this contradicted, as it often did, participants' substantive experiences. Although there are problems and challenges that accompany later life, they are not necessarily overwhelming. Later life was generally portrayed as an active period, in which participants continued to live their lives in an engaged way; helping others, striving for independence, celebrating older age and enjoying its freedoms. People's attitudes and experiences of later life were seen also to be a reflection of their lifetime roles, for example, whether or not they had been active in helping others or had socialised with others in the past. Capabilities and needs were not fixed but changed, according to individual experiences and attitudes, as well as requirements in the face of ill health or financial problems; needs which varied at different times and at different points of the life course. It is argued that the views and experiences of older people should be used as a basis for shaping theory, practice and research.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Social Sciences (Sheffield) > Sociological Studies (Sheffield)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.495619
Depositing User: EThOS Import Sheffield
Date Deposited: 26 May 2016 10:53
Last Modified: 26 May 2016 10:53
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/12859

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