S2.5 Re-thinking place, age, and exclusion - learning lessons from global and multi-disciplinary framework
Wednesday 16:45-18:00 S2.5 Torghjørnet
Re-thinking place, age, and exclusion - learning lessons from global and multi-disciplinary framework
Chair: Anna Wanka
Discussant: Simon Biggs
The immediate residential environment gains increasing importance as people age. Such environments can be age-friendly and enabling, but they can also contribute to social exclusion of older adults. In most European countries, various measures - ranging from barrier-free pavements to decentralised home care services - have been implemented to make urban and rural environments more age-friendly. Yet, spatial mechanisms of exclusion persist to affect particularly those ageing in place. It is thus a crucial task for (critical) environmental Gerontology to analyse concepts like ageing in place and age-friendly cities, dismantling the underlying notions that might contribute to reproducing social inequalities instead of reducing them. Based on material from four European countries and different disciplines, the objective of the symposium is to discuss the social and cognitive processes of spatial exclusion at different levels: How do imaginaries of older adults inform guidelines on age-friendly environments and their materialisations, like benches (Moulaert/Wanka)? How do they influence the vision of older people as co-creators and which social groups does this make in/visible (Lassen/Jespersen)? And how does the meaning of home play on the experience of old age exclusion (Walsh)? To introduce such debate, there is a need to rethink about theoretical understanding of relations between age, space and exclusion (Wanka/Moulaert). Contributions will be discussed by Simon Biggs.
S5.3.1 The social production of age, space and exclusion: towards a more theory-driven
understanding of spatial exclusion mechanisms in later life
Anna Wanka1, Thibauld Moulaert2, Matthias Drilling3
1 Goethe-University Frankfurt, Germany, 2 Grenobles Alpes University, France, 3 Hochschule für Soziale Arbeit FHNW, Switzerland
Background. Gerontology has, for long, been described as ’data rich, but theory poor’ (Birren 1999, p. 459). This also holds true for the study of spatial exclusion in later life (cf. Walsh et al., 2017). To approach this challenge, this paper sketches out a heuristic model we call the “ASE triangle” that suggests a perspective of how ageing, space and exclusion are related. Based upon Lefebvrian thoughts it describes how spatial practices, representational space and representations of space are related to ageing and exclusion. Methods. The paper proceeds from a critical review and discussion of existing literature. Results. The model is applied to interpret the political concept of “Age Friendly Cities and Communities (AFCC)” promoted by the World Health Organization (WHO) and its practices worldwide (Moulaert & Garon, 2016). Analysing AFCC through the lens of the heuristic model - the ASE triangle – shows how representations of space, as within the AFCC-framework, are related to representations of age (as both deficiency and potential) and practices of exclusion on the level of policy, implementation, but also everyday practices. Conclusions. Based upon the results, the paper poses a theoretical perspective upon mechanisms of spatial exclusion in later life that is informed by sociological theory. It exemplifies how existing knowledge in the different disciplines gerontology is composed of can be made fruitful for the recent debates in environmental gerontology.
S5.3.2 Assumed citizen involvement: co-creation in the danish old age sector
Aske Juul Lassen, Astrid Pernille Jespersen
University of Copenhagen, Denmark
Background. In recent years there has been an increased focus on co-creation in local governance in Western welfare states (Pestoff & Brandsen 2013). As part of this governmental turn, older people are urged to participate as volunteers in the design and execution of welfare services in Danish municipalities. This is caused by the potential resources amongst the healthy and active retirees, as well as the pressure on the welfare sector that the ageing society constitutes in terms of increasing health- and care expenditure. Methods. The study investigates how co-creation is practiced in a small, sub-urban municipality in Denmark called Ishøj. Through interviews with municipal employees in the old age sector and active older citizens as well as participant observations amongst organizations and municipal initiatives, we have studied how retired older people are invoked to exercise active citizenship and engage in their local community. Results. As co-creation is meant to leave an open space for innovative citizen initiatives it also reshapes citizen involvement. Citizens are assumingly always-already involved in co-creation initiatives, but it is often only the resourceful older citizens that are involved. Also, which citizen ideas that will eventually become municipal initiatives seems more based on the ways these ideas fit to existing networks and policies, than based on a comprehensive analysis of the problems experienced by older people. Conclusions. As such, co-creation initiatives risk to exclusively support the expectations towards the good old age as experienced by the active and resourceful older citizens.
S5.3.3 Benches as materialisations of age in public space – mediating active ageing,
mobility and social in/exclusion
Thibauld Moulaert1, Anna Wanka2
1 Grenobles Alpes University, France, 2 Goethe-University Frankfurt, Germany
Background. In their promotion of “active ageing” through Age Friendly Cities and Communities (AFCC) the World Health Organization (WHO) has developed a vision of ageing that links environments to personal lifestyle and community support. To exemplify the mediation of the individual and the social, an image and a materialised practice are often used: the benches. This paper asks: What do benches tell us about the way ageing is framed and shaped in Western societies? Methods. Our exploratory study is based on recurrent observations of the presence of benches not only in document supporting AFCC at international level or in local practices and in scientific literature concerned with space, but also in different local practices, document, images used in various places of the world referring to AFCC (including France, Quebec and Germany). Results. Referring to a biopolitic of ageing, benches can be seen as an ideal-type to understand how powerful actors like the WHO, planners and architects, but also older adults themselves understand and enact ageing. The benches are not restricted to older people, though when they are used in AFCC, they would support a new narrative on ageing: benches do not represent place to sit and stay (to rest), but a place between places (to move from a personal place to a public place). Considered by planners as a perfect tool either for “socialisation” or for “mobility” (two essential dimensions of the spatial dimension within AFCC) benches might be the “mediators” for knowing/experiencing “active and healthy ageing”. Conclusions explore the limits and the promise of this exploratory research.
S5.3.4 The role of remaking home in mediating social exclusion in rural places
Kieran Walsh1, Graham Rowles2
1 National University of Ireland Galway, Ireland, 2 University of Kentucky, USA
Background. There is a significant literature that demonstrates the challenges associated with residential relocation in later life, and how processes of remaking a sense of home in new places can help ameliorate those challenges. However, while there is also a growing body of work that testifies to the potential exclusions that can arise from environmental change for older people who have remained in place, the extent to which processes of remaking home might function to circumvent these exclusions is unknown. This paper contributes to an understanding of the intersection of home, social exclusion and environmental and personal change for long-term older residents. Methods. The paper investigates: (1) the role of change in environmental and personal context in shaping experiences of home for long-term community residents and (2) the notion of remaking home in a single spatial setting over the life course. The analysis focuses on ten in-depth interviews with older residents of a rural Irish community. Results. Dimensions of home were subject to change in situ over time, implicating interconnected trends at the macro level, environmental community shifts at the meso level, and personal transitions at the micro level. These multi-level changes worked in singularly or in combination to produce potential exclusionary risks. In response, a life-course adaptive practice of reconstructing home was evident in situ, involving creating new meanings of home, transferring previous aspects of home, while abandoning others. Conclusions. Discussion focuses on the potential of dislocation from place through environmental and personal change to be mediated by capacities to remake home.