Series: The New Dynamics of Ageing
This series showcases state-of-the-art research from the New Dynamics of Ageing programme, the first multi-disciplinary and the largest programme of ageing research in Europe. Its findings provide insights into ageing and its impact on a global scale.
Together, the books in the series embrace all disciplines with an interest in ageing, encompassing direct engagement of older people and user organisations, and contain all of the main research findings, making them an essential source of reference.
The New Dynamics of Ageing
Transport policy for rural elders has traditionally focussed on deficits in access to ‘subsistence’ needs, such as food and healthcare. The chapter considers the limitations of the past approach for wellbeing, presenting the case for a holistic perspective: the continuum of mobilities (literal, virtual, potential and imaginative). Each is regarded as having different importance for quality of life, with individuals drawing variously on the different types at different lifecourse stages. The chapter applies the continuum towards understanding some key rural transport policy dilemmas for elders, relating to social exclusion and car dependence. It is concluded that, for the majority of rural elders, a combination of walking and car use underpin mobility and connectivity, but public transport plays an important secondary role and virtual mobility is of growing importance. For the minority that reports major difficulties in achieving the levels of mobility they desire, the absence of car access is one important factor. Looking to the future, the likely rise of virtual mobility to address subsistence needs will place greater emphasis on social connectivity as a motivation for maintaining physical activity. The findings concerning imaginative mobility suggest both an important role for design in producing legible environments and a therapeutic role.
Governments promote increased social connectivity to give power and responsibility to citizens. In England and Wales this has led to many older people’s networks and active community participation by rural elders. This can be conceptualised through social capital which can be seen as both inclusive (bridging capital), or exclusionary (bonding capital), as well as functional or power-related. While Bourdieu’s capitals explore social, economic, cultural and symbolic assets, a human ecology conceptualisation complements these with a focus on the importance of place in developing connectivity. Here, macrosystems focus on national and international influences, exosystems on external influences, mesosystems on direct influences and microsystems on individual or personal space. Further, the chronosystem can also take temporal influences into account in examining connectivity from a conceptual standpoint.
This chapter reviews the literature on place attachment and then empirically tests conceptual models of place attachment (based on the literature) to identify the predictors of, and the pathways to, place attachment. The results of the mediation analysis demonstrate that there are distinct pathways to three kinds of connectivity between older people and the places in which they live: social attachment to place, aesthetic attachment to place and amenity/ environment-oriented physical attachment. The results demonstrate that there are discrete types of place attachment which are differentially influenced by social or environmental factors at each level of the ecological model and by the passage of time. We reflect on the applicability of our findings to those from Canadian rural communities that formed a parallel project to the UK research.
This chapter gives an overview of policy and practice for public participation and engagement in England and Wales, and explores the rationale for adopting a participative approach to research. It describes the process used for involving older people in the Grey and Pleasant Land project and some of the challenges that this raised. We review the literature for using the internet to promote public participation in and engagement with research and describe how we used synchronous and asynchronous online methods in this project. This is followed by a discussion of their relative merits and how online approaches compare with face-to-face involvement. The chapter concludes with a series of reflections and recommendations for the involvement of older people as key stakeholders in rural research.
Older people in the countryside are vastly under-researched compared to those in urban areas. This innovative volume, the first project-based book in the New Dynamics of Ageing series, offers a unique interdisciplinary perspective on this issue, focusing on older people’s role as assets in rural civic society. It demonstrates how the use of diverse methods from across disciplines aims to increase public engagement with this research. The authors examine the ways in which rural elders are connected to community and place, the contributions they make to family and neighbours, and the organisations and groups to which they belong. Highly topical issues around later life explored through these perspectives include older people’s financial security, leisure, access to services, transport and mobility, civic engagement and digital inclusion – all considered within the rural context in an era of fiscal austerity. In doing so, this book challenges problem-based views of ageing rural populations through considering barriers and facilitators to older people’s inclusion and opportunities for community participation in rural settings. Countryside Connections is a valuable text for students, researchers and practitioners with interests in rural ageing, civic engagement and interdisciplinary methods, theory and practice.
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.
The chapter explores the role of deep mapping in interdisciplinary research – where interdisciplinarity is seen as a source of creative tension – specifically as concerned with rural older adults’ connectivity and, more generally, in relation to the social sciences. Our arts-based approach is located in terms of evoking and articulating connectivity and our engagement with older people discussed before considering process, both in terms of gathering and generating material and of subsequent creative processes. This is followed by more general reflections on process linked to understandings around relations to place. Creative works produced during the research are also presented, including the digital deep mapping hub, and their role in developing an understanding of multiple connectivities indicated. The chapter concludes with an examination of the broader implications of our work in terms of questions arising from these understandings.
The chapter provides a critical exploration of the situations and experiences of older people living on low income in different rural places in England and Wales. It draws on evidence from a survey of older people and qualitative materials from interviews with, and diaries produced by older people on low income. The survey evidence indicates that low income and material deprivation represent significant features of older people’s lives in rural areas. However, qualitative research highlights the ways in which poverty is largely denied by those on low income, with attachments to place – involving connections to the social, cultural and natural attributes of place - constructed as compensating for material restrictions imposed by low income.
The potential of older people’s participation in leisure activities as a means of creating community capital is an expanding focus of research by gerontologists although to date the leisure engagement of rural elders has received comparatively little attention. This chapter focuses on older people’s connections to rural community life through their engagement in cultural and leisure activities. Older rural residents’ leisure participation and its determinants are considered from a life course perspective as well as the forms and uses of later life leisure within the rural community context. Findings from the GaPL survey on types and frequency of current participation in individual and group-oriented hobbies and social activities are presented. Patterns of participation across life stages are examined through findings from oral histories focused on respondents’ ‘leisure lives’. The chapter also describes a community oral history project designed to raise awareness of older people as rural social and cultural capital and to increase public engagement with this research that formed part of this work.
This chapter draws together the main findings and issues from this study of connectivity and older people in rural Britain. It begins by reviewing the main challenges of interdisciplinary research encountered during the project. It goes on to summarise not only the main dimensions of connectivity explored in detail in earlier chapters such as civic engagement, social participation and connecting to landscape but also key barriers such as poor health and digital exclusion. These findings are then conceptualised in terms of both social capital and critical human ecology theory. The chapter concludes by drawing out policy and practice implications with an emphasis upon the dangers of increasing inequality for lower income rural elders at a time of austerity with its consequent emphasis upon community self-help. However, the overall message of the book is that it is still important to celebrate rural elders the majority of whom are well connected to their locale and hence making an important and varied contribution to community life.