Enjoying the third age! Discourse, identity and liminality in ExtraCare communities

Karen West, Rachel Shaw

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)

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Abstract

Extra-care housing has been an important and growing element of housing and care for older people in the United Kingdom since the 1990s. Previous studies have examined specific features and programmes within extra-care locations, but few have studied how residents negotiate social life and identity. Those that have, have noted that while extra care brings many health-related and social benefits, extra-care communities can also be difficult affective terrain. Given that many residents are now ‘ageing in place’ in extra care, it is timely to revisit these questions of identity and affect. Here we draw on the qualitative element of a three-year, mixed-method study of 14 extra-care villages and schemes run by the ExtraCare Charitable Trust. We follow Alemàn in regarding residents' ambivalent accounts of life in ExtraCare as important windows on the way in which liminal residents negotiate the dialectics of dependence and independence. However, we suggest that the dialectic of interest here is that of the third and fourth age, as described by Gilleard and Higgs. We set that dialectic within a post-structuralist/Lacanian framework in order to examine the different modes of enjoyment that liminal residents procure in ExtraCare's third age public spaces and ideals, and suggest that their complaints can be read in three ways: as statements about altered material conditions; as inter-subjective bolstering of group identity; and as fantasmatic support for liminal identities. Finally, we examine the implications that this latter psycho-social reading of residents' complaints has for enhancing and supporting residents' wellbeing.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1874-1897
Number of pages13
JournalAgeing and Society
Volume37
Issue number9
Early online date13 Jul 2016
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2017

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