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Title: Truth to the materiality of later life : the significance of the aesthetic for the support of older people
Author: Cross, Joanna Eleanor
ISNI:       0000 0004 5923 0855
Awarding Body: University of Bristol
Current Institution: University of Bristol
Date of Award: 2015
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Later life can be subject to an 'impoverishment of experience' (Jay, 2004): cut-price cultural expectations and community services. The argument maintained in this exploratory, interdisciplinary study is that such experience is aesthetically grounded. This research operationalises aesthetics through its foundational definition of perception through the senses, the enduring influence of Kant's (179011987) enlightenment variant on Western perceptions of ageing, and the transformational, pragmatist aesthetics of Dewey (1934) and contemporary aestheticians of the environment and the everyday. Creativity as a correlate of aesthetics is considered in inclusive, action theoretical terms (Joas, 1996). The aim: to establish whether an applied aesthetics better illuminate the everyday values and challenges faced by older men and women. This addresses a gap in the knowledge base, aesthetics in ageing studies conveyed through representational practices, the arts, or surface appearances. Fieldwork has involved a multi cultural sample of 31 older people, recruited from urban, social hubs and groups for the visually impaired. Methods have integrated auto-driven photo-elicitation or written reflections with in-depth interviews, organized around themes exploring participants' cultural attachments and social networks. Data were analysed through performative/dialogic and discourse methods (Reissman, 2008; Rose, 2007). Resultant data qualify the formative, aesthetic experience, often through senses other than sight, this foregrounding body-environment permeability. Secondly, both aesthetics and creativity, as detached from cultural imperatives, underscore the value in later of life of material, aesthetic bonds, constituting individual authority and ontological security. These considerations infer an ethical construct, a truth to the materiality of late life. This prioritises action and aesthetic sensibility towards the voice, the body and the social and physical environments that sustains both, over normative, dispositional approaches to later life support. On this basis an applied aesthetics provide an alternative voice in environmental and cultural gerontology, with practical potential for the enrichment of community services for older people.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available