The scarcity of research currently available regarding the individual lived experiences of ageing and old age in Mexico points to our lack of understanding on this subject. Therefore, this thesis aims to advance empirical and theoretical knowledge in social gerontology, particularly in the study of old women. Drawing on a feminist and life course perspective, this thesis explores what it means to be an old woman in 21st century Mexico. The study involved a thematic narrative analysis of data generated by life-story interviews with 32 working and middle-class old women, with an age range of 60 to 89. The analysis shows how old age is both a social construction and a material reality embedded in the women’s cultural, historical and religious locations. Contrary to most current literature on ageing, the analysis also shows how most of these old Mexican women construct ageing and old age as an overall positive experience. Yet, the way they negotiate their ageing identity is not without complexity and ambiguity. On the one hand, they take pride in their age. On the other, they are not immune to utilising ageist discursive practices and attitudes that ironically reinforce old people’s marginalisation. In light of the analysis, the thesis concludes by suggesting an interdisciplinary gerontological approach to the study of the meanings that old women ascribe to their experiences of ageing and old age. First, the focus should be on women’s subjective process of becoming and being old. In other words, the analysis should be based on their personal narratives and the resources they use to construct them. Second, the experience of ageing should be explored from a life course feminist perspective, challenging the dominant negative images of old women, their marginalisation and above all highlighting the positive aspects of their later life. Third, this approach should be combined with the analysis of the female old body, emphasising the diversity and ambivalence of the bodily experiences of ageing. Fourth, social gerontologists should be sensitive to how culture shapes the experience of ageing and old age. Fifth, I argue for opening dialogues regarding the significance of religiosity/spirituality to how old women make sense of their ageing experience and develop strategies for managing their everyday life. Through this line of research, the analysis of ageing and old age could be shifted away from the narrative of decline, recognising old age as the complex and rich process it truly is, full of challenges and opportunities.
|Award date||14 Jun 2012|
|Publication status||Published - 2012|