GGRB13 – Lecture 7 (March 5)
LIFE COURSE AND GEOGRAPHIES OF CHILDHOOD
Age, Generation and Life Course
- How is age socially constructed?
- How is age spatially constructed?
- How do people create and resist particular age identities?
- How is social belonging expressed spatially?
- Map exclusionary sentiment onto real places
- Object relations theory: People form positive identities of themselves through a process of
excluding others thought to be deviant
- Others kept at bay, self is seen as whole and pure
Age and Geographies of Exclusion
- Some common sayings:
- “Youth is wasted on the young”
- “You are young at heart”
- “Not getting older... just getting better”
- Where do these sayings come from?
- What are they expressing about the “descent” into old age?
- How do we think about youth and aging?
- Think about some ideas or clichés that evoke age (social exclusion) these sayings come out of
social construction of age, they are talking about the descent into old age
The Adam Sandler Phenomenon
- Sandler is obsessed with the process of aging – all his movies make references to older people
in some way
- Adam Sandler: Dealing with people who are older, he loves doing moves that engage this
issue of age, all of his moves reference age in some way
- “Wedding Singer”
How are Older People Represented?
- Declining mental and physical ability
- Withdrawing from “real life”
- Ugly, doddering, unloved, out of touch – why is it funny to see her rapping?
- Out of the ordinary things make us laugh, such as an old lady rapping
- Harmless, no need to control them - Non-sexual
- Yet wise, intuitive – the paradox of aging
- “Objects relations theory” – the theory that describes the way we relate to people (and
situations) in our adult world is programmed into us by the way we experienced our parents
when we were infants
Old Age Devalued
- Low status accorded to older people because of retirement from paid work
- Old age is devalued in our society in some way because of the economy, and when they
are retired they do not count in our economic society
- Traditional masculine assumption about what work is – domestic work continues after
- Grandparenting/voluntary work
The Spatial Construction of Age
- Important dimension that is often forgotten
- Can’t be separated from the social construction of age
- There are certain places appropriate to different age groups
- Social geographies consider places to have particular gendered identities – the material spaces
in which we live are age-graded and in turn, age associated with particular places
- Places have age-identities too
What’s Happening to Age?
- Physiological age: health, fitness, and visible appearance of the body
- Older people who look young are generally well-received, but it is about the mental idea
we apply to that, that if you look good you are good mentally
- Health of many people improves immediately after retirement
- We must start accepting the changes in the body as part of the normal experience of humanity –
return it spatially to centre stage within human experience
Gender and Aging
- Women never have to become “old”
- Plastic surgery, pressure to look “young”
- How does gender and aging get represented in popular culture?
- You are who you date: Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher
- Desperate Housewives: Getting older but getting better
- From “soccer mom” to “yummy mummy” – pervasive symbol
- Denigration of older women’s sexuality
- Cougar – double standard for men/women Cougar Town
- A TV series that depicts divorced women in their 40s facing challenges in their “next life”
- Cougar town is a conflating place with identity
Conflation – when identities of two or more individuals, concepts, or places share some
characteristics of one another and becomes confused until there seems to be only a single identity
Geographies of Aging
- Spatial patterns of residence, welfare and service provision for elders
- “Age” taken for granted as a category for analysis
- Suggestions for policy analysis
- What about the spatial construction of age?
- Where do you feel younger? Older?
- Where you are has a lot to do with how old you feel
- Basically, SPACE and PLACE makes you feel older and younger
How are Places Age-Specific?
- Raves, nightclubs?
- Old age is peripheralized (bounded by borders)
- Youth is seemingly everywhere
- Children and young people are denied access or not given a voice
- People have different access to and experiences of place based on age
How Places are Age-Specific
- What happens to older people and their geographic space?
- Closes down; becomes more constrained
- Not just because of mobility but because of societal expectations of what is their “proper” place
- Cultural differences
- Seniors’ residences vs. staying at home
- Old people: Bigger car
- Retirement homes and specialized care centres are constrained places for old people
- Old people and children are outside of what is considered “spatially acceptable: while youth is
How we are Ageist
- Assumptions are made about older people’s physical and mental condition
- Competency to navigate the built environment
- Take up less space but paradoxically get a bigger car
- Edge of civilization marked by the presence of grotesque people – not entirely different but less
than perfect and slightly threatening Retirement Communities
- In the US, there are designer settlements which have a minimum age of 50
- They are built upon the concept of allowing these people to build upon their old memories, a
very interesting form of space
- Response to “white flight” from large cities in second part of the 20 century that led to
- Fancy, affluent homes that protect individuals from “the other”
- Active retiree – sporty, hip, cool and fun
- Meanings of old age are a product of changing wider social and economic conditions in
Geography, Space, Identity and Age
- Spatial patterns to construction of aging
- How is age socially constructed?
- Through limits on labour market participation
- Common ideologies about bodily appearance
- Age is also spatially constructed
Research on Aging..