Ethnographies of ageing

Authored by: Cathrine Degnen

Routledge Handbook of Cultural Gerontology

Print publication date:  June  2015
Online publication date:  June  2015

Print ISBN: 9780415631143
eBook ISBN: 9780203097090
Adobe ISBN: 9781136221033


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Ethnography is a powerful research technique. Put in the most succinct of terms, it requires spending extensive amounts of time with people who are—in the course of their normal lives—doing and experiencing the things that one wishes to better understand as a social scientist. This chapter explores ethnographic approaches to the study of ageing through time, across a variety of cultural settings and across disciplines. It contextualizes ethnographic principles as based on participant observation and originating in anthropology, but as premised on a particular research perspective: namely, empathy with the ‘other’. The chapter also considers what strengths and challenges ethnographic methods bring to research on socio-cultural ageing processes and the experiences of older people themselves.

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