Taming the Subject: A Qualitative Study of the Experience of Aging

Stefanie Graefe


In this article research results are presented of an interview study using grounded theory methodology, in which the social experience of aging in contemporary Western societies was explored. Against the historical background of a new socio-political appreciation of aging, persons between 45 and 95 in Western Germany were asked about their subjective views and experiences of aging. The empirical work was accompanied by further methodological considerations in order to attain an adequate approach to age as a social category, which in contemporary modern societies is at the same time deeply individualized and strictly normalized. The key category of a "(subjective) relative agelessness" and a typology of aging-related self-concepts (the "transformative," "continuous," and "insecure" aging self) are presented. The results of the study indicate a certain social closeness of contemporary normative conceptions of aging with their focus on active, self-responsible, and productive lifestyles to specific social milieus.

URN: http://nbn-resolving.de/urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs1302114


aging transitions; subjectivity; narrative gerontology; grounded theory methodology; interviews

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.17169/fqs-14.2.1917

Copyright (c) 2013 Stefanie Graefe

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