This chapter provides an overview of how ageing populations in rural communities and rural experiences of ageing have been studied in rural geography, rural sociology and related social science fields, reflecting the evolution of conceptual perspectives and approaches to rurality. We begin by discussing empirical accounts of age and ageing populations in Anglo-American community studies during the mid-twentieth century, in which ageing was approached in the context of intra-community social relations. The chapter then notes the relative marginalisation of the ageing population as a focus of research as critical political-economy perspectives shifted emphasis to more structural dimensions of rural economics and class stratification. The next section observes the significance of the ‘cultural turn’ in the 1990s. Drawing attention to the plurality of rural experiences, this included renewed emphasis on ageing residents as ‘rural others’ beyond the mainstream representations, and with the intersection of ageing with an array of social markers. The chapter subsequently traces the emergence of a growing body work in rural studies that explores the role of older people in creating and sustaining rural communities at a range of scales, including through formal and informal family, neighbourly and civil society networks. Finally, the chapter briefly describes the increasing internationalisation of rural studies of ageing, including comparative studies and research on the particular condition of rural ageing in countries such as China and how this is approached through a combination of translated western concepts and endogenous empirical perspectives.
Published: May 2020