Active ageing: from Individualistic Withdrawal to Social Generativity

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The concept of active ageing applies especially to the young old, ie. people aged between 65 and 74 years. Through this contribution I want to support the idea that a) there are different ways of dealing with the transition to the last phase of life, b) and that, if we focus on active young old (65-74 yrs), we can identify a number of ways to live and making meaning of their active ageing. Living longer corresponds in fact to a longer period of cohabitation (actual or ”at distance“) of at least three generations (grandparents, children, grandchildren) and this enables mutual relational exchanges, whose presence or absence and subjective perception as positive or problematic have to do with the quality of life of older people and all the other generations. By analysing data concerning the 65-74 year old European population gathered through the SHARE’s wave 4 (Survey of Health and Retirement in Europe), we are able to show these different ways of experiencing, embodying and to give meaning to active aging: a) “individualistic withdrawal”; b) “competitive ambivalence”; c) “social generativity”. This demonstrate that a) primary relations play a crucial role in enabling young old subjects (65-74 yrs) to give a sense to the transition they are experiencing and can therefore be defined generative; b) these generative relationships (at personal and family life level) give origin to forms of social generativity, thus excluding other forms of active ageing. I conclude, in accordance with the most recent international sociological and psycho-social literature, that active ageing cannot be limited to a generic activism or mainly aimed at the preservation of a vital and meaningful sense of self, nor to a compensatory aspect of the elders’ lost social and relational centrality.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)111-119
Number of pages9
JournalFAMILIA
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Keywords

  • Active ageing
  • social engagement

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