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Accepted Paper:

Designing retirement in Milan: hope and ambiguity in an inner city neighbourhood  
Shireen Walton (University College London)

Paper short abstract:

This paper considers how older adults in a Milan neighbourhood variously envision and experience their lives in retirement; looking at digital forms of social participation, and how older age and retirement are seen as life stages to design together.

Paper long abstract:

This paper explores how older adults in an inner city Milan neighbourhood experience and shape their lives in retirement. Drawing on sixteen months of ethnographic research in the city and online, the paper discusses how people of various ages and backgrounds navigate between hope and ambiguity amid significant urban, socio-economic, and technological transformations.

A central focus of the paper is on the ways that research participants are transforming their experiences of ageing through forms of digital social participation, before and during the Covid-19 pandemic; examining how this relates to hope, the future, and capacities for aspiration (Appadurai 2004) in/for older age. In particular, the paper examines the ways in which this neighbourhood is envisioned as a place to become older together – as a place to design retirement. Digital technologies and infrastructures are shown to be significant in facilitating contemporary social life, opportunities, and forms of participation, while they also throw into relief the inequalities and exclusions associated with being connected/disconnected and included/excluded from formal support structures concerning ageing, health, and retirement.

Weaving in comparative research findings from across the ASSA project, the paper concludes by discussing how retirement in this contemporary context in Milan is about living with uncertainty and ambiguity, but also with possibility and hope, as people develop capacities in and curiosities about a changing world, changing selves, and changing relationships, in designing retirement together.

Panel P107a
The Transformation of Hope in Retirement I
  Session 1 Tuesday 26 July, 2022, -