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Creative ageing: exploring social capital and arts engagement in later life

REYNOLDS, Jackie (2011) Creative ageing: exploring social capital and arts engagement in later life. Doctoral thesis, Keele University.

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Abstract or description

This study explores the meanings that older people attach to their participation in group arts activities throughout their lives. Existing literature on arts engagement and ageing is limited, especially in the UK context, and does little to reveal the complex factors that shape people’s participation. Much existing research approaches the subject from an arts and health perspective, meaning that issues for older people who are actively engaged in their communities are largely unexplored, and their voices are absent. Reflecting a narrative approach, and the need to adopt a life-course perspective, this study involves qualitative interviews with 24 participants who have connections with a case-study town in the English Midlands. Participants were recruited through a range of groups, including choirs, dancing, amateur dramatics, and arts and crafts groups. The study’s findings highlight the key roles played by people’s childhood experiences at home, school and church, in shaping arts engagement. There are important gender and class differences in participants’ experiences, and these in turn are significantly influenced by historical context. In challenging a common ‘deficit’ approach to research with older people, this study uses the concept of social capital as a basis for analysis. This emphasises the critical importance of people’s relationships and communities in shaping participation. Findings offer qualitative understandings of the ways in which older people experience and invest social capital through their group arts engagement, and of the dynamics of mutual support and reciprocity that can thus be seen in the lives of older people. The study concludes that social capital and people’s group arts engagement can be linked to the wider concept of ‘resourceful ageing’ which, in turn, contributes to a better understanding of the impact of life-course experiences on later life opportunities and challenges.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Depositing User: Jackie REYNOLDS
Date Deposited: 07 Oct 2013 09:08
Last Modified: 24 Feb 2023 03:47

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