THE EVOLUTION OF BRITISH GERONTOLOGY: Personal Perspectives and Historical Developments

Bernard, Miriam and Ray, Mo and Reynolds, Jackie (2020) THE EVOLUTION OF BRITISH GERONTOLOGY: Personal Perspectives and Historical Developments. In: The Evolution of British Gerontology: Personal perspectives and historical developments. Policy Press, Bristol. ISBN UNSPECIFIED

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Abstract

Introduction
Ageing, it now seems, is everybody’s business. Wherever we turn these days, older people are visible in the British media: on television and radio, and in advertisements. Actors, celebrities and public figures are documenting their experiences and thoughts about ageing at a rapid rate of knots; others are writing or making documentaries about living with, or caring for, family members – often with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias; while the anti-ageing and beauty industry exhorts us to stave off the signs of growing older for as long as we possibly can. Paradoxically, alongside this increasing visibility, has been an ever-present sense that population ageing – and older people themselves – is somehow to blame for many of society’s current problems. Indeed, proponents of ‘apocalyptic demography’ (Robertson, 1990) make uncritical use of statistics to fuel alarmist concern and generate moral panic amongst the media, government and the general population (Gee and Gutman, 2000; Bytheway and Johnson, 2010). This book, and the research project on which it is based, is located at the intersection of this paradox.
Our contention is that much popular and policy understanding of ageing and older people often has very little basis in the growing body of national and international gerontological research which has been undertaken over the past 40-50 years and that, as yet, we know very little about the evolution of this inter and multidisciplinary field from the perspectives of those who have been instrumental in its growth and development. Consequently, this chapter begins our sociohistorical examination by considering how gerontology first emerged, before going on to describe the ‘Ageing of British Gerontology’ research project. Our mixed method project looks at gerontology’s evolution through the contributions and experiences of senior figures in British gerontology and contextualises, supplements and integrates this new empirical work with a detailed examination of the archives of the British Society of Gerontology (BSG). It is our research into, and analyses of these materials and interviews, which are at the heart of the book. The chapter concludes by briefly introducing the 50 gerontologists who took part, as well as ourselves.

Keywords:ageing social gerontology, historical perspectives
Subjects:L Social studies > L990 Social studies not elsewhere classified
Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Health & Social Care
ID Code:36669
Deposited On:20 Aug 2019 12:40

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