Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS: http://ethos.bl.uk/OrderDetails.do?uin=uk.bl.ethos.580970
Title: An age of emotion : expertise and subjectivity in old age in Britain, 1937-1970
Author: Greenhalgh, Charlotte Maree
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2012
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Abstract:
This thesis heeds W. Andrew Achenbaum’s call for historians of ageing to analyse the inner lives of their subjects. Building on and problematizing existing studies of health and welfare policies for the old, it explores the ways that mid-century public and private life shaped how individuals felt about old age. Both public discussions and private narratives of ageing are used to consider how older people understood and expressed their emotional experiences during a challenging period of the life cycle. I argue that old age in general, and its emotional dimensions in particular, are missing from British historiography. Yet both were vital to social life in the mid-century, when the ageing population was an important political issue and a large number of experts hoped to manage the emotional and psychological aspects of this ‘problem’. This thesis begins by setting out this national context for old age, showing that heightened interest in ageing and emotion were significant influences over the expansion of the welfare state. However, contrary to the expectations of mid-century researchers and policy-makers, my subsequent chapters show that older people frequently maintained their social roles and relationships through informal means. This thesis explores how ageing men and women engaged with work, retirement, ill health, marriage, bereavement, fashion, beauty culture, and autobiography as opportunities to find meaning in late life. Together, these varied perspectives on old age make a series of interventions in its history. I argue that historians could do much more to detail the significance of the life cycle for their subjects, whether they write political, social, or cultural history. As this thesis shows, such studies should approach ageing as a lifelong and personal process, which has been shaped by reminiscence and story-telling. I suggest that historians of emotion are best-equipped to write scholarship that is sensitive to the passing of time and personal biography in this way.
Supervisor: Houlbrook, Matt Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID: uk.bl.ethos.580970  DOI: Not available
Keywords: History of Britain and Europe ; Modern Britain and Europe ; Ageing ; Older persons ; twentieth-century British history ; history of emotions ; old people ; elderly ; old age
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