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Title: The contribution of informal learning to spiritual development in later life
Author: Walker, Joanna Kate
ISNI:       0000 0004 9352 6625
Awarding Body: University of Southampton
Current Institution: University of Southampton
Date of Award: 2019
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This thesis concerns the spiritual learning and development that can take place in older age. It proposes that informal learning is integral to an experience of ageing involving a spiritual dimension. The research areas in which this gerontological study is located are multi-disciplinary, adding the novel perspective of adult lifelong learning to the growing subject of spirituality and ageing. Research questions investigated the 'nature of spiritual learning and its development in later life and the ways in which older people saw spiritual development as related to being older'. I aim to offer an account of the various ways in which spiritual learning and development occur, and how they relate to the experience of ageing. An interpretive, qualitative methodology was adopted to give primacy to older people’s accounts of their spiritual learning and development, involving a two-stage design of 3 focus groups and 23 individual interviews with respondents aged 60 to 92. Research participants were independent, community dwelling members of networks that offered spiritual and religious engagement in a 30-mile area within Hampshire, Surrey and West Sussex. Transcribed interview material was the subject of thematic and narrative analysis. Findings based on older people’s understanding and meaning of their spirituality indicate that spiritual change and development takes place in later life through informal learning, for which I propose a process model as an alternative to stage-models of later-life development. By interpreting spiritual development as a kind of adult learning and seeing this phenomenon in a life-course context, I am able to apply my findings to various ways of being spiritual to today’s changing cultures of ageing and spirituality. This application includes a re-consideration of spiritual ‘dwelling’ and ‘seeking’ as ways in which spiritual learners build their spiritual narratives and express them in spiritual practice. Spiritual ageing was recognised in three main ways, in terms of later life as continuity, as a new life-course phase, and as an episode in life-as-story.
Supervisor: Schroeder-Butterfill, Elisabeth Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available