Women Ageing: Changing Identities, Challenging Myths

Women Ageing: Changing Identities, Challenging Myths

Women Ageing: Changing Identities, Challenging Myths

Women Ageing: Changing Identities, Challenging Myths


Women and Aging provides a better understanding of what ageing is like for women and challenges the myths which have grown up around the ageing process. Blending the scholarly, the personal and the political, it reveals the range of strategies and identities women adopt to manage the transitions of the second half of the life-course.


There could scarcely be a topic of more intellectual, social and economic importance in the early twenty-first century than the focus for this book: the way in which women experience the process of ageing in British society. Older people are of increasing importance to the vitality, stability and development of this society. Women are crucial to these.

The simple reason for this is demography, in which there has been a dramatic change during the later part of the twentieth century. In 1901, one person in twenty was aged over 65; by 1998, it was one in six. Similarly, in 1901, only one person in 100 was over 75; by 1998, it was one in fourteen. This dramatic shift in the age balance of the population begins much earlier than any conventional definition of 'old age' and affects women and men unevenly because of differing survival rates. At the present time, women begin to outnumber men from the age of 50 onwards. By age 89, there are three women for every man.

So, from early middle age, women become an increasingly dominant group in demographic terms, and therefore an increasingly central force in a society which must learn to make full use of the talents of its older population if it is to flourish. But how do women experience this process? Does it feel like a process in which the crucial role of older women is recognised and valued?

The varied chapters in this book explore these themes from different angles-the scholarly, the personal and the political. Rooted in social science perspectives, the book draws widely on those theoretical frameworks that can illuminate women's experiences of ageing: feminism, life-course development and critical gerontology. The evidence base is also varied, blending autobiography with other types of social science data reflecting, as the editors say, a desire to move away from the 'add women and stir' approach. In so doing, the book reflects upon methodology-how properly to study older women's lives-not just upon the substance of its topic.

To an extent, the book places women where they have always

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