How to Study the Materiality of Ageing? Insights and Challenges of Cultural Gerontology
Cordula Endter (German Centre for Gerontology)
Anamaria Depner (University of Heidelberg)
Anna Wanka (Goethe University Frankfut)
Paper short abstract:
To explore what gerontology can learn from taking materiality seriously, this paper addresses questions on materiality, digitalization, and methodological innovation in studying the material dimension of ageing. We discuss the role of materiality and the challenges that arise for empirical research.
Paper long abstract:
How does the material, tangible world around us shape the lived realities, experiences, and perceptions of ageing? The material turn in the social sciences and humanities has directed attention to the material dimension as well as 'non-human actors' that co-constitute the social world. Material gerontology, a research perspective at the intersection of cultural anthropology, environmental gerontology, and the sociology of ageing, is concerned with older adults' positions, practices and perceptions in and of space, place, and materiality. The small, but increasing body of material gerontological research has so far focused on the role of objects, artefacts, and things, technologies, spaces, architectures, and bodies for the diverse experiences of ageing. To explore what gerontology can learn from taking materiality seriously, this paper addresses three questions: 1) How do spaces and things shape the everyday experiences of ageing and identities in later life?, 2) Which role do digital spaces and technologies play in co-constituting ageing?, and 3) How can we methodologically grasp the materiality of age and ageing in everyday lives? To address these questions we present spotlights from three different projects, discuss the role materiality plays in them, and which challenges arise for empirical research when trying to grasp it. In conclusion we outline basic principles of a material gerontologist research perspective.
Spaces of Ageing - New Horizons of Mobility and Materiality in Later Life [Age and Generations Network]