Unmasking age : the significance of age for social research by Bill Bytheway

By Bill Bytheway

What is age? an easy query yet now not that simple to reply to. 'Unmasking Age' addresses it utilizing facts from a chain of study initiatives on the subject of later lifestyles. this can be supplemented by way of fabric from more than a few different assets together with diaries and fiction. Drawing on a protracted occupation in social learn, invoice Bytheway significantly examines quite a few equipment and discusses methods of uncovering the realities of age.

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The TOG project also relied heavily upon interviews, undertaken by Joanna Bornat. An obvious strength of interview-based research is that the researcher is in control, initially at least, and can focus the interview directly or indirectly on the questions the interview is intended to address. So, from the very outset, when an interview is sought, the researcher has to introduce the purpose and the broader aims of the project. This of course ‘sets an agenda’ and, arguably, invites particular kinds of response ranging from outright refusal to extended interviews in which a wide range of topics are covered in depth.

This of course ‘sets an agenda’ and, arguably, invites particular kinds of response ranging from outright refusal to extended interviews in which a wide range of topics are covered in depth. Unlike other kinds of interviews (for example, by the police or prospective employers), the research interview is heavily dependent on the interviewee voluntarily agreeing to participate and answer questions. Typically researchers hope to achieve this through general sensitivity and empathy, and assurances of confidentiality.

At various points the government and the popular media were triggered into a panic over the ageing of the population (Shegog, 1981, for example) but it is only recently that this has led to a coordinated approach to research (Walker, 2009). Peter Townsend is the most widely celebrated British social researcher on the subject of later life. His first study, The Family Life of Old People (Townsend, 1957), was located in a working-class community in the East End of London. It built upon earlier research by Sheldon (1948) and Young and Willmott (1957) into urban community life.

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