Accepted Paper:

Performing present poverty among elderly: a mainly feminine issue?  


Alexandra Rau (LMU Munich)

Paper short abstract:

The categories of age and gender influence identities in terms of work and conditions of life. The presentation is based on a research project that focuses on practical strategies of women in their pension age struggling with precarious retirement.

Paper long abstract:

The project is dedicated to a vehement societal problem: the experience of precariousness of elderly women in Germany. On the one hand, it is well-known that in particular women are not sufficiently secured against poverty by old-age pensions due to gaps in their work biography and their traditional family orientation. On the other hand, elderly women's strategies of coping with poverty have not yet been subjected to detailed research. Based upon biographic case studies, this project explores (1) in how far biographic backgrounds and social environments as well as sociopolitical dispositions enforce and shape poverty among elderly women and (2) what kind of practices and strategies they develop to cope with their everyday struggles against the threat of social descent.

The exploratory study aims to conduct biographic interviews with elderly women in Munich and is supplemented by participant observation in their daily life worlds and social networks. The interviews will be interpreted in thickly described case studies bringing together the individual experiences and self-images and the macro-contextual societal problems and discourses by which the narratives and practices are supposedly informed. This project wants to contribute to a deeper understanding of the various skills, tactics and strategies of women in their retirement age developing creative sources of livelihood and finding ways of making their own living and/or seeking support by relatives, neighbors and social institutions.

Panel Gend003
Performing identities: age and gender related viewpoints to the poetics of past, present, and future