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SIEF2013 11th Congress: Tartu, Estonia.
30 June - 4 July, 2013

SIEF2013: Circulation

Tartu, Estonia; 30th June - 4th July


Aging as a placed experience: the fluidity of different modes of relationships

Location Ülikooli 16, 102
Date and Start Time 02 July, 2013 at 10:30


Karin Johansson (Karolinska Institutet) email
Margarita Mondaca (Karolinska Institutet) email
Eric Asaba (Karolinska Institutet) email
Tiina Suopajärvi (University of Helsinki) email
Mail All Convenors

Short Abstract

This panel expands the understanding of the situation for older persons, through concepts, methods, and empirical studies that encompass the fluidity that characterise how older persons engage with places, recognizing different modes of relationships to multiple places.

Long Abstract

People age in places, and increasingly people today age in a country other than their country of origin. This geographical flexibility, characterizing migration between different world regions, fundamentally challenges conventional concepts and research methods applied in existing aging research. Simultaneously, recent research point at the flexibility and fluidity characterising, in the words of Tim Ingold, how humans’ live their lives through, around and to and from different placed situations, also when situated in a familiar home and/or world region. Present aging research tends to build on the ideology of continuity and stability, expressed through concepts such as aging in place and place attachment, which are explicitly challenged in the context of mobility characterized by migration. The situation for older migrants is gaining increasing attention in research worldwide. However, this research tends to build upon views that focus on how ethnicity and culture are expressed in relation to preferences and habits, reinforcing stereotypes and generalizations about elderly migrants.

This panel invites papers that focus on, for example, on how aging in general affects people’s spatial practices, experiences, and relations; or, in particular, the understanding of the situation for older persons with migration experiences, through concepts, methods, and empirical studies that encompass the fluidity that characterises aging as placed experience, and recognizes the different modes of relationships to multiple places. In particular this panel will highlight how such fluidity takes form and is expressed in everyday practices involving older persons, family, the local community, and national as well as transnational institutions.

Discussant: Kristiina Korjonen-Kuusipuro

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.


Aging between places: creating inclusive communities though photovoice partnerships

Authors: Eric Asaba (Karolinska Institutet)  email
Margarita Mondaca (Karolinska Institutet)  email

Short Abstract

Two photovoice illustrations will be used to explore possibilities and challenges of creating a sense of place in later life as a migrant.

Long Abstract

The aim of this paper is to explore the possibilities and challenges of social dynamics among elder migrants through photovoice projects in Sweden and Japan. Migration involves moving from one place to another, and is something that has become more and more common during the past decades. As a result more people today are growing older in a country other than their country of origin, which fundamentally challenges conventional concepts and methods based on an ideology of continuity and stability often applied in existing aging research. The utilization of socially transformative methods such as photovoice allows the building of partnerships with people. In these projects partnerships were formed with elders from diverse cultural backgrounds where participants were involved in the construction of the research agendas, shaping questions and creating an open dialogue through a combination of visual and verbal stories. This is relevant because it puts the expression of ethnicity and culture in friction with otherwise reinforced stereotypes and generalizations about the elder immigrant. It places a focus on agency from less individualistic perspective, contribution, and multiplicity rather than xenophobic stereotypes, socio-economic burden, and one-dimensional images of the elder migrant. Two examples will be used to illustrate how community resources can be used to create a sense of place in later life; the first builds on work with elder migrants in Sweden and the second with elder migrants in Japan. Concepts, methods, and challenges around photovoice applications will be discussed.

Ubiquitous intelligent city as narrated bodily experiences of ageing citizens

Author: Tiina Suopajärvi (University of Helsinki)  email

Short Abstract

The bodily experiences on the urban space of ageing citizens are discussed as part of the continuous power negotiations of public space; especially how the socio-material encounters in the ubiquitous city are entwined with individually lived ageing.

Long Abstract

Space is experienced through movements and by doing; and these bodily practices are entangled with their socio-cultural and temporal settings. Nevertheless, the movements and acts are not just performances in a certain place; instead they simultaneously re-structure and re-shape its social organization, including power relations. The northern Finnish city of Oulu is being designed as a prototype of an intelligent city which is full of new public technology expected to improve the everyday lives of all citizens. In my presentation, I will discuss how the ageing citizens (+65) narrate their bodily experiences on this changing urban space; how age, gender and space entangle in their narrations; and how new designs are contested by their mundane practices. I look at ageing as socio-discursive phenomena and as lived bodily experience which affects people's spatial practices, experiences, and socio-material relations.

These questions are analysed in the life story and walking interviews with ageing citizens. In these interviews they talk about their long-term and current micro-mobility in the public urban places; the impacts of portable and ubiquitous technologies on their mobility; and their bodily experiences while moving in the city. My interviewees emphasize that they are consciously striving for staying mobile, because their ageing bodies demand the exercise to keep on going. The public urban space must feel safe for them to utilize it; and though this would be technically possible it might not be considered politically important. Thus, I will also discuss how power negotiations are (re)enacted in the stories of ubiquitous Oulu.

How material culture affects personal, social and spacial relations in older people's residential homes

Author: Melanie Lovatt (University of Stirling)  email

Short Abstract

This paper examines the intersections between material culture, space and social relationships in older people’s residential homes. I consider how material culture helps to create and maintain personal and social relationships, and how it affects the sense of being ‘at home’ in the residential space

Long Abstract

Residential homes for older people often encourage potential residents to bring small items of furniture and personal possessions with them, as a means of helping them adjust to life in an unfamiliar, institutional space. While some previous research on material culture in older people's institutions has considered items brought into the residence from previous, private homes, research has largely ignored objects acquired since the move, or how material culture is used by residents to influence their sense of place, space, and feeling 'at home'.

This paper draws on ethnographic research conducted at two residential homes for older people in the UK, and considers how the material culture of residents' rooms - including those possessions which were brought from previous homes, and those acquired since the move - helps to create, maintain and reflect personal and social relationships, and influences residents' spatial practices.

Far from being sterile spaces which display objects such as heirlooms and family photographs in a fixed, static, museum-like way, I suggest that residents' rooms can be sites of fluidity and interaction, where material culture is discussed, exchanged, gifted, circulated and bought. The movement of objects contributes to and reflects the agency of residents in adjusting to the space of the residential home, and also develops and affirms relationships with fellow residents, members of staff, and friends and family.

Be(com)ing an older driver: references to age-related challenges in voluntary post-licence training

Author: Mirka Rauniomaa (University of Oulu, Finland)  email

Short Abstract

The presentation examines audio-video recordings of older drivers participating in voluntary post-licence training in real traffic and in real time, focusing on how the drivers view and present themselves as 'older drivers' through descriptions of possibly age-related challenges in the activity.

Long Abstract

A key concern in maintaining an active, autonomous lifestyle at an older age is mobility, i.e. the possibility for individuals to participate in activities outside their immediate home environment. Private car travel, for one, enables older members of society to continue leading mobile lives but requires skills and abilities that they may be losing or lacking. In this study, I examine how older drivers themselves take up possibly age-related changes in their ability to drive. I adopt a highly empirical, conversation-analytic approach and draw on audio-video recordings of voluntary post-licence training for older drivers. The drivers are older women (aged 59-70 years) who have a valid driving licence but who have not driven a car for a long time and have little driving experience overall.

I focus on cases where a driver refers to some challenges that she faces in driving and handling the vehicle, e.g. looking at meters on the dashboard or positioning herself appropriately inside the car. These challenges are treated as possibly age-related and potentially problematic for the current activity. Close analyses of the participants' use of language, bodily conduct and engagement with material surrounds reveal how they view and present themselves as 'older drivers'. The analyses also show how the drivers, in interaction with the instructor, deal with incipient difficulties or pre-empt potential difficulties. Moreover, an examination of these actual instances of voluntary post-licence driver training gives insight into how opportunities to be guided, to practise driving and to continue being mobile in effect emerge.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.