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Being old in a community: the importance of setting or you don't miss water 'Til the well runs dry'

Midwest Sociological Society paper

Author: Matthews, S. H.
Type: Journal Article
Year: 1977


The meaning to informants of physical setting & the people who populate it emerged from an analysis of qualitative data on the social worlds of old women. Old women view themselves & others as residents or newcomers in the neighborhoods & communities in which they live. Residents are viewed & view themselves as persons grown older. Newcomers do not have known biographies, making oldness their most salient characteristic, & oldness is a devalued attribute, which may be further magnified by the imputed or admitted dependence that moving to be closer to relatives implies. In addition, newcomers leave behind a world of the familiar, whose importance only becomes obvious when it is lost. The absence of friends of long standing detracts further from the old woman's sense of her own biography & other old people who are new acquaintances cannot attain the status of friends. Strategic interaction is difficult because old women lack control over the choices of the Grim Reaper & the composition of their neighborhoods & communities. Attempts to protect self lead to social isolation. By ignoring the importance of the community in which people are old & extolling the virtues of the viable extended family, social gerontologists have ignored an important component in the maintenance of an acceptable solution.

Further Details

Accession Number: 22.5.03
Keywords: older, emotional
Reads: 218