Accepted paper:

Precarious Retirement, (confined) mobilities and place-making of Elderly Women

Authors:

Irene Götz (LMU Munich)
Petra Schweiger (institute of Europaen Ethnology)

Paper short abstract:

This paper departs from a Munich research project on coping strategies of precariousness of elderly women. Based upon case studies, it explored in how far biographic backgrounds and social environments shape poverty, as well as strategies of place-making and a restricted mobility.

Paper long abstract:

This paper departs from a (GRF-funded) Munich research project on the experiences and coping strategies of precariousness of elderly women in an urban living space. Based upon biographic case studies and participant observation in several institutions caring for the elderly as well as in their apartments in the expensive city of Munich, this project explored during the last 5 years in how far biographic backgrounds and social environments enforce and shape poverty among elderly women, as well as their (restricted) mobility within "their" city and beyond. The paper is in particular concerned with daily practices and skills of place-making, which elderly women have developed (in their homes, in their neighborhood, in their home countries), when (or because) they cannot rely on a comfortable pension and therefore cannot pay for domestic helpers and other support. Based on which strategies of caring for themselves, of making their living, of moving to cheaper regions, do these retired women manage to stay in an individual home autonomously? Facing or anticipating a decline of physical strength and capacity in future, the fear of losing control over their life fuels their "creative" strategies of safeguarding their daily routines, connected to the handling of objects in their household. In so doing, these single women have established reliable socio-material arrangements, closely linked to their urban living space and barely transferable to new (cheaper) regions. Thus, their specific vulnerability derives from their instable prospects concering their spaces of displaying personhood, an instability enforced, but not restricted to material poverty.

panel P017
Spaces of Ageing - New Horizons of Mobility and Materiality in Later Life [Age and Generations Network]