Wales Institute of Social & Economic Research, Data & Methods
Sefydliad Ymchwil Gymdeithasol ac Economaidd, Data a Dulliau Cymru

Older People’s Rural Lives

Start Date: February 2011 

End Date: December 2011 

Research Team 

Jesse Heley
Laura Jones
Suzie Watkin 

Research Advisor 

Mike Woods 

Overview

This project seeks to problematise homogenising narratives of older people as predominately ‘static’ and ‘passive’, and therefore somehow less implicated in wider social and economic networks; perceptions compounded by the context of rural peripherality. While older people’s experiences may offer insights into the changing historical shape of communities, it is also vital to understand how older residents are shaping and can shape communities both in the present and future. This mode of investigation has the potential to inform policy and politics, where the function and capacity of older people in rural communities tends to be confined to concerns of healthcare.  As such, the assumption that older residents do not, cannot, or will not contribute to sustainability agendas (environmentally, socially, economically and otherwise) is considered.   

A pilot study was undertaken which explores the connections inherent in the lives and practices of older people within a specific rural community in Ceredigion. Research was primarily be undertaken through methods of in-depth qualitative interviewing, which will potentially be combined with other mixed methods approaches including the use of GIS/geo-tagging.  

Research Questions

  • What relations (spatial and/or social) are prioritised by older people in the practice of their everyday lives? How has this changed over time?
  • How are notions of ‘community’ differently understood and practised by older rural residents, in light of current political notions of localism and big society?
  • How do older people understand their contribution to the future sustainability of ‘communities’?
  • What are the dominant policy discourses concerning the status of older residents in rural communities?
  • How do these discourse specifically account for the (im)mobility of this demographic? 
  • How do these discourses specifically account for the ability of older residents to contribute to and shape their communities?
  • What role is ascribed to older residents in rural communities in achieving future sustainability as variously defined?

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