Chapter

Researching age

Bill Bytheway

in Unmasking age

Published by Policy Press

Published in print June 2011 | ISBN: 9781847426185
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781447304128 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1332/policypress/9781847426185.003.0002
Researching age

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The aim of much gerontological research is to understand the lived experience of growing older and being old. In this chapter, classic approaches to research in social gerontology and, in particular, four strains which have featured in its history: the relationship with clinical practice, the study of needs in old age, the distinction between old age and ageing, and the development of theory are reviewed. Three primary sources of data that social research draws upon are considered: interviews, observations and documentation. Alternative research methods that might uncover the ways in which age figures in the course of life, paying particular attention to the use of diaries and correspondence, and the abstracting of material from literature are also discussed. ‘How old are you?’, this simple question is easily understood but not necessarily easily answered. This and other related questions are examined at the latter part of this chapter.

Keywords: gerontological research; social gerontology; old age; ageing; clinical practice; needs; alternative research methods

Chapter.  11393 words. 

Subjects: Gerontology and Ageing

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