One: Countryside connections in later life: setting the scene

This chapter describes the background and guiding interdisciplinary framework of the GaPL research programme that forms the basis of this book. It outlines the aims and organisation of the volume highlighting the broad interdisciplinary approach that informed this study of how and in what ways older people are connected to civic society in rural settings. The chapter begins with a presentation of the case for greater research on older people in the countryside in light of global and national demographic trends in rural ageing. The predominantly problem-focused nature of previous research on older people in rural areas is described and the need for a perspective on older people as positive social assets in rural community life is established. The principal foci of the GaPL research are outlined and the process of synthesising diverse disciplinary perspectives into an integrative framework around the cross-cutting concept of ‘connectivity’ is explained. The location of the rural study sites and the rationale for their selection are outlined. The survey that underpinned the various parts of the GaPL research is described and findings on the sociodemographic characteristics of the survey sample are presented. Chapter One concludes with an overview of each of the remaining eight chapters.

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