Aging identity: Do theories match experiences?

Gražina Rapolienė


Dominant aging identity theories ("mask of ageing", "social mask", M.Foucault's "disembodiment thesis", gerotranscendental theory) as well as the concept of postmodern reflexive self of A.Giddens can hardly be used to explain the old age identity in contemporary Lithuania. More suitable for this purpose is E.Goffman's stigma concept that allows explaining the denial, evasion and marginalization of old age, direct and indirect age discrimination experienced in everyday interactions and institutionalized in private  and public structures. These are conclusions of a qualitative research - in-depth interviews with elderly people - that aimed to examine ways, in which old age is created and aging is experienced and made meaningful by older people, as well as ascertain whether the elderly experience stigmatization in everyday interactions. The data were collected in October 2010 - January 2011 in Vilnius (N=24), selection of informants was targeted by gender, age groups (60-74 and 75-89), level of education (primary, secondary, higher), and household type (households of several generations, single-generation and institutional housholds). For interpretation of data, the method of abduction or inference to the best explanation (Harman, 1965) was used.


aging identity, stigma, qualitative research

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ISSN: 2062-087X

DOI: 10.14267/issn.2062-087X