Talk about old age, health and morality

Outi Jolanki

in Valuing older people

Published by Policy Press

Published in print July 2009 | ISBN: 9781847422927
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781447304173 | DOI:
Talk about old age, health and morality

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This chapter presents some findings of a discourse-analytical study of meanings conferred on old age and health in the talk of older people themselves. Definitions of health and old age entail both moral evaluations and definitions of the participants' social identities. Physical and social activity and the ability to do things were constructed in the interviews as constitutive of good health and as an outward indication of it. It seems that adopting the social position of ‘old’ did not necessarily free the participants from their feelings of responsibility to try to resist the adverse effects of old age and to try to be active. In all the extracts shown here, the participants were balancing between conceding some changes in their health status and mitigating the threat to their adult status, and at the same time advancing their claims to a positive self-image.

Keywords: discourse-analytical study; old age; health; moral evaluations; social identities; self-image

Chapter.  6879 words. 

Subjects: Gerontology and Ageing

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