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  • Author or Editor: Christina R. Victor x
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This chapter reports the findings of the NDA project ‘Families and Caring in South Asian Communities’, which focused on understanding the experiences and perceptions of old age and later life among Bangladeshi and Pakistani elders. Particular emphasis was placed on investigating social identities and levels of participation in transnational, national and local communities; perceptions and experiences of family lives, social networks, ‘place’ and locality; and ideas, meanings and experiences of ‘care’ and ‘support’. The chapter discusses the key methodological challenges, summarises the main substantive themes and considers how different these are (or are not) from the general population in order to begin to distil the unique or novel dimensions of the experience of ageing among those populations. The chapter raises critical questions about the extent to which policy and practice recognise the diversity of experience with regard to notions of ageing.

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We investigated family caring using established questions from national surveys of 1,206 adults aged 40+ from six minority ethnic communities in England and Wales. We included in our analysis factors that predisposed caring (age, sex, marital status and household composition) and enabled caring (health, material resources, education, employment and cultural values). In the general population, 15% of adults are family carers. Three groups reported lower levels of caring (Black African [12%], Chinese [11%] and Black Caribbean [9%]) and three reported higher levels of caring (Indian [23%], Pakistani [17%] and Bangladeshi [18%]). However, ethnicity predicted caring independent of other factors only for the Indian group.

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We investigated how carers of people with dementia evaluate their standing in their community and wider society, and if this is related to ‘living well’. We used baseline data from the Improving the experience of Dementia and Enhancing Active Life programme and found that carers rated their standing in society higher than in their local community. Higher evaluations of both were associated with enhanced life satisfaction, well-being and quality of life. Initiatives that increase support or engagement in the community or wider society may help to increase carers’ perceptions of their social status, enhancing their ability to ‘live well’.

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From passive to active consumption in Britain

Targeted as the ‘grey consumer’, people retiring now participated in the creation of the post-war consumer culture. These consumers have grown older but have not stopped consuming.

Based on extensive analysis over two years, this unique book examines the engagement of older people with consumer society in Britain since the 1960s. It charts the changes in the experience of later life in the UK over the last 50 years, the rise of the ‘individualised consumer citizen’ and what this means for health and social policies.

The book will appeal to students, lecturers, researchers and policy analysts. It will provide material for teaching on undergraduate courses and postgraduate courses in sociology, social policy and social gerontology. It will also have considerable appeal to private industry engaged with older consumers as well as to voluntary and non-governmental organisations addressing ageing in Britain.

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This chapter provides some background information for studying the extent to which consumption is now a part of later life. The discussion begins by looking at the problem of studying later life in the context of fast social change. It then charts the rise of mass consumer society in the United Kingdom and how this has related to the ideas of ‘generational change’. It uses recent developments in theories of high, late or second modernity in order to focus properly on the key areas of social change, as well as how these relate to the experiences of older people in society. The chapter also provides an overview of the next chapters and how they reflect and relate to the main theme of consumption.

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This chapter takes a look at the evolution of the ‘third age’ in British society, and traces its growth as a concept and as a social and cultural space. It uses various demographic and historical data, and presents various typologies and periodisations of the ‘third age’. The discussion also studies the ways in which it is expressed and reproduced in different social contexts. Several terms such as ‘generation X’, ‘baby boomers’, and ‘sixties hippies’ are introduced.

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This chapter talks about the theoretical underpinnings of the concepts of cohorts, generation, and time, while referencing the work of Mannheim and others. The analysis that is presented in this chapter is based on large, standardised surveys of expenditure patterns. It is considered to be a necessary and important first step in the understanding of how later life is formed by and contributes to the formation of consumer society.

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This chapter studies the impact of the changes in household composition on consumption in later life. It also considers how many changes in the household structure have facilitated or held back the consumerist transformation of post-working life. The discussion also takes a look at the extent to which patterns of consumption in ‘pensioner-only’ households are different from those of people of pensionable age living in ‘non-pensioner’ households.

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This chapter presents data that was taken from four decades of the Family Expenditure Survey on the patterns of consumption among older people in the UK from 1968 to 2003. It examines the extent to which, with increasing affluence and the growth of a consumer society, the social nature of ageing has become more differentiated. It shows that not only has the patterning of consumption and expenditure changed, but the period has also witnessed considerable changes in the patterning of inequality. The chapter also states that there is evidence to suggest that polarisation and inequality have become acute among older age groups.

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This chapter uses the data from the project referenced in the previous chapter, and considers these changes in relation to the trends in inequality and their impact on consumption patterns. It reveals that one area that has been largely neglected in research on later life is that of the consumption of health and health products. However, the chapter shows that the ageing of the population has profound consequences for the healthcare industry, in terms of demand for different healthcare products, consumer behaviour and marketing strategies.

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