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Title: Work Activities of older people : beyond paid employment
Author: Greasley-Adams, Corinne S. G.
ISNI:       0000 0004 2736 6280
Awarding Body: University of Stirling
Current Institution: University of Stirling
Date of Award: 2012
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In recent years much has been made of active and productive ageing policies, with the attempt to promote a more positive image of ageing. Despite this, negative representations of ageing and conceptualisations of older people as a ‘burden’ persist. This thesis presents an argument that these negative images are intertwined with common understandings of work, the frequent equating of this to paid employment within the field of social gerontology, and the reliance upon cessation of work in determining the beginning of old age. With reference to the wider literature in the sociology of work, an argument is presented that determines why it is essential to challenge those taken-for-granted assumptions about older people and work. Reflecting upon the findings from an exploratory and qualitative research project, which focuses upon the perspective of the older people themselves, attention is given to the detail of what should be encapsulated into new understandings of work. Within the thesis it is argued that there are many activities undertaken by the older person, which should be thought of as work, including (but not limited to) paid employment, volunteering, care, attendance at social clubs, undertaking sport and physical activity. Some of these activities might more intuitively be thought of as acts of leisure. However, it is evidenced within this thesis that there are fuzzy and blurred boundaries between leisure and work - older people leisure at work and work at leisure. The recognition of these blurring boundaries is one aspect that must be incorporated into re-conceptualisations of work. The thesis demonstrates how the work of older people transcends different socio-economic spheres and there are multiple interrelations existing between different activities. Whilst this last point resonates with the approach of some authors in the sociology of work, they have never been incorporated within the field of social gerontology. Through this analysis, and promoting a new way through which the activities of older people might be incorporated within the rubric of work, it is hoped that ageism might be challenged in a similar vein to the way in which feminist researchers once challenged sexism in relation to work and housework. This thesis reflects upon how we need to identify and conceptualise the third age in light of the findings. It highlights how the working lives of older people are shaped through a process of negotiation between social expectations within current political and economic contexts, influences from key historical events and social changes, and the desire for freedom, autonomy and choice. Age period cohort is crucial in determining the world of work, and more generally how ageing might be experienced. Through its unique approach, and the lessons learnt within this thesis, a theoretical framework is provided to assist in future comprehensive studies of both work and ageing. Overall, this thesis makes significant contributions to understandings of work and ageing following the consideration of two schools of thought (i.e. sociology of work and social gerontology), which previously have been infrequent companions.
Supervisor: McIntosh, Ian; Bowes, Alison Sponsor: ESRC
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Older people ; work ; paid employment ; ageing ; unpaid work ; third age ; Older people Employment