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Minding the gap: The construction of old age and oldness amongst peers

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Cathrine Degnen



While 'oldness' is a state of being that people in Western cultures agree exists, and 'old age' is a category which is readily used in daily discourse and upon which decisions are made in daily life, what old age is and who is old nevertheless remain problematic categories. Social scientists have acknowledged such complexity and sought ways of framing old age that are flexible enough to take the heterogeneity of ageing into account. What has not been considered as closely however are intragenerational dynamics in the construction of old age. Based on ethnographic research on the experiences of ageing and selfhood in the north of England, and using a processual and interactive approach to self-making, I explore here criteria that older people employ to monitor and adjudicate on the manifestation of oldness in their peers, as well as the distinctions they make between 'normal' ageing and 'real' old age. (C) 2006 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Degnen C

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Aging Studies

Year: 2007

Volume: 21

Issue: 1

Pages: 69-80

Date deposited: 18/10/2013

ISSN (print): 0890-4065

ISSN (electronic): 1879-193X

Publisher: Pergamon


DOI: 10.1016/j.jaging.2006.02.001


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