Active Ageing: from individualistic Withdrawal to Social Generavity

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The concept of active ageing applies especially to the young elderly. Through this contribution we want to support the idea that a) there are different ways of dealing with the transition to this phase of life, b) if we focus on active young elderly (65-74 years old), we can identify several different ways to live and give meaning to the aging process. Living longer is in fact an opportunity for at least three generations (grandparents, grown up sons and daughters and grandchildren) to experience a longer period of cohabitation (real or “at distance”); this opportunity can enable more intense mutual relational exchanges, whose presence or absence, together with the subjective perception (as positive or problematic), have an impact on the quality of older people life in first place as well as on that of all other generations. By analyzing data concerning the 65-74 years old European population gathered through the SHARE’s wave 4 - 2010 (Survey of Health and Retirement in Europe ), we were able to show these different ways of experiencing, embodying and giving meaning to active aging: a) “individualistic withdrawal”; b) “competitive ambivalence”; c) “social generativity”. The final results demonstrates that a) primary relationships play a crucial role in enabling young elderly subjects to give meaning to the transition they are experiencing and can therefore be defined as “generative”; b) these generative relationships (at individual and family life level) give origin to forms of social generativity, thus excluding other forms of active ageing. In conclusion, in accordance with the most recent international sociological and psycho-social literature, active aging doesn’t seems to be limited to a generic activism or mainly aimed to the preservation of a vital and meaningful sense of self, nor to a compensatory aspect of the elders’ lost social and relational centrality, but it is closely related to values and cultural orientations and to the ability of making sense about the transition the aging person is experiencing.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)111-128
Number of pages18
JournalFAMILIA
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Keywords

  • Active ageing
  • family relations
  • social engagement
  • social relations

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