RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2014

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68 Urban and Suburban Geographies of Ageing (2)
Affiliation Urban Geography Research Group
Geography of Health Research Group
Convenor(s) Debbie Lager (University of Groningen, The Netherlands)
Chiara Negrini (Kingston University, UK)
Bettina van Hoven (University of Groningen, The Netherlands)
Tim Schwanen (University of Oxford, UK)
Chair(s) Chiara Negrini (Kingston University, UK)
Bettina van Hoven (University of Groningen, The Netherlands)
Timetable Wednesday 27 August 2014, Session 2 (11:10 - 12:50)
Room Sherfield Building, Room 9
Session abstract We seek to organise two sessions to explore the relationships of older people and ageing with place, with a particular focus on urban and suburban environments. Up till now, research in the field of ageing and place has been dominated by social and environmental gerontologists. Recently, Schwanen et al. (2012) advocated a more ‘sustained engagement’ with ageing from geographers in order to draw attention to the different spatial configurations of old age and the socio-spatial inequalities in later life. These socio-spatial inequalities stem from a complex interplay of the social and material environment and the biological and psychological aspects of the ageing body (see e.g. Ziegler, 2012). Research on ageing in urban environments has highlighted the exclusionary processes to which older adults can be subjected, such as the obstacles for everyday mobility and the challenges of everyday life in deprived urban neighbourhoods (see e.g. Smith, 2009; Buffel, 2013). However, it has also been acknowledged that older people can make active and important contributions to their community and can make their (urban) neighbourhood and home into a place that evokes positive experiences and attachments.
Arguably, however, the vast majority of older people in the near future will age-in-place in suburban areas rather than live in densely populated urban centres. Whilst historically not developed for older people, suburban areas are now being (re)designed and (re)organised to meet the material and social needs of their older residents (e.g., through the implementation of integrated service areas – ISAs). Given the policy relevance of this trend, further research is needed with regard to how ageing-in-place in suburban neighbourhoods is experienced and what the socio-spatial implications of these environments are for its older population.
We encourage papers that investigate the multiple relationships between ageing and the urban and suburban environment, with particular attention to:
• Intersections of age with gender, ethnicity, class, sexual orientation and other forms of social identification and exclusionary processes related to these intersections;
• Theoretical advancement within the field of ‘geographies of ageing’;
• Participatory methodologies and ethical considerations relating to this type of research;
• Contributions of older people to their local community;
• Meanings, experiences and emotions related to ageing-in-place;
• Planning processes that make cities and suburbs more age-friendly and the role of older people herein.
Linked Sessions Urban and Suburban Geographies of Ageing (1)
Contact the conference organisers to request a change to session or paper details: AC2014@rgs.org
Maintaining the Land of Oz: Exploring the relationship between space, place, and aging among LGBQ older adults in San Francisco
Jarmin Christine Yeh (University of California, San Francisco, USA)
With the malleability of human longevity, place-based efforts, such as “aging-in-place,” “age-friendly cities,” and universal designs have become popular to address environmental concerns related to enhancing functional aging. These efforts, however, have been criticized for having positivist philosophical origins and reifying space-as-a-container concepts without critically interrogating how socio-spatial inequalities become manifest in later life or how “place” is understood to have a relationship with aging bodies, identity, and health. This presentation draws from a qualitative study of the lived experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and queer (LGBQ) older adults in San Francisco. Using photo-elicitation techniques, grounded theory, narrative and visual analysis of participants' interviews and photographs, a description emerged of how “place” shaped the way aged- and queer-identities were embodied and enacted; and, how participants’ constantly worked to (re)integrate with “place” in the face of bodily and environmental changes through their social and spatial practices across time. Finally, this presentation acknowledges the need to address the theoretical challenge of how changing situations of space on populations wrought by the advance of capitalism and the rise of urbanization, with postmodern perspectives emphasizing personal identity construction, in the face of cultural representations of aging which may conflict, creates tension at “micro-macro” intersections.
Multiple disadvantage of older migrants and older native Dutch adults in deprived neighbourhoods in Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Sabine van der Greft (University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands)
It is generally believed that older non-Western migrants are facing more disadvantages than older native adults due to poor health, inadequate household resources and their residential concentration in deprived neighbourhoods. It is also known that multiple forms of disadvantage may occur simultaneously in the same individuals and that disadvantages may accumulate to the extent that they will have a negative impact on daily functioning. In accordance with Lawton’s (1982) environmental docility hypothesis, it is expected that frail older adults with few resources and a restricted mobility are likely to experience the negative effects of environmental deprivation.

Several studies have been conducted that examined the income position, health status or the social and physical environment of older non-Western migrants; however, most researchers have studied these aspects in isolation. Also, most comparisons between older non-Western migrants and older native adults have failed to take life course perspectives, neighbourhood dynamics and socioeconomic factors into account. This research addresses whether older non-Western migrants living in deprived neighbourhoods in Amsterdam experience similar or different levels of disadvantage when compared to socioeconomically similar older native Dutch residents, and explores how this can be explained in relation to their life and residential histories and neighbourhood changes.
Ageing by ethnicity and residency in China
Adam Horálek (Palacký University Olomouc, Czech Republic)
The paper presents an analysis of ageing in China according to official statistical data of the People’s Republic of China. PRC faces one of the most massive and rapid process of ageing in the world. The process itself has been determined by two major political events of the second half of the 20th Century in China – Great Leap Forward and One-child policy. No other political actions affected age structure of contemporary Chinese population in similar extend. However, both these policies did not influence the population evenly, especially in two dimensions – spatial (mainly residential - hukou) and ethnic. Therefore these two dimensions are major focuses of the paper. In the beginning, the most recent spatial distribution of the elderly population in China is presented. In the second part, the ethnic and residential interregional and interethnic differences are presented. In the last section, the impact of both stated policies on ageing in different regions and communities is discussed. The paper deals mainly with macro-demographic statistics and uses mainly cartographic presentation of them. However, also this kind of analysis can show the readiness of PRC for its elderly population.
Measuring age sensitive quality of the built environment in Helsinki Metropolitan Area
Tiina Laatikainen (Aalto University, Finland)
Marketta Kyttä (Aalto University, Finland)
Quality of the built environment and the provision of good quality spaces in which the users of built environments enjoy living in and spending time is an ongoing target of the planners, urban designers and policy makers around the world. Attempts towards defining the characteristics of high quality built environments have been made, but less attention has been paid on the possible variation of the high quality factors between different user groups. This paper aims to identify and compare demographic variation on the key features of high-quality environment by paying special attention to age. The features of high quality environment were studied in a location-based way by attaching them to specific places. Our web-based, SoftGIS survey, an advanced example of a PPGIS (Public Participation GIS) tool, was used here to study individually meaningful quality factors in eleven neighborhoods in Helsinki Metropolitan Area (HMA). The collected “soft” data was overlaid with “hard” register-based data to study the perceived environmental quality of the older people in comparison to the young and the working age groups. The study shows evidence that the definitions of high quality environments differ between the age groups in terms of the features of the built environment.
Senior co-housing community as an actor in a local community
Outi Jolanki (University of Jyväskylä, Finland)
The study addresses a senior cohousing community in the suburban area of the capital of Finland. The study focuses on the reasons to build the community and the residents’ experiences of living in it. The case study offers also material on the community’s relations to municipal authorities and service providers. The community started its operation in 2006 and most of residents are retired people. The case study employs theoretical concept of agency. Data come from written material, group discussions and survey questionnaire. Data is analyzed with content analysis and discourse analysis. The analysis showed that senior cohousing community has offered for its residents a sense of community, reciprocal support and has decreased feelings of loneliness and insecurity. The community and its residents has also taken an active role as a participator in the local community by organizing seminars and lectures open to public and by striving to develop services of the area in collaboration with local authorities. However, ‘down-top’ approach challenges conventional boundaries between authorities and ordinary citizens and requires municipal authorities and service providers to accept the community as an actor with whom to work with, which was not always unproblematic.
The geography of gerontology: Elderly and their use of public space in Dutch integrated service areas
Rianne van Melik (Radboud University Nijmegen, The Netherlands)
Roos Pijpers (Radboud University Nijmegen, The Netherlands)
Like many other European countries, the Netherlands is graying at great pace. While the economic effects have received much attention in policy and academics, the spatial implications for elderly themselves are much less investigated. Therefore, Schwanen et al. (2012) recently called for a more sustained engagement with ageing.
Our paper contributes to this engagement by investigating elderly’s use of public space in Dutch integrated service areas (ISAs), where housing, care and welfare providers are integrated within an area-based approach with the aim to support elderly who live independently. For elderly, public space could serve as a place to remain active and to meet peers and others. Especially the presence of green spaces has been associated with reduced loneliness (Maas et al., 2009). Yet elderly can also suffer from disabilities that hamper them from using public space.
Through narrative interviewing, we have examined the meaning and experiences of elderly living in ISAs regarding public space. The narratives reveal that they particularly appreciate unobstructed views on public space from their homes. More than outdoor public space, indoor commercial space serves as a meeting point. From these and other findings, recommendations can be formulated for the further development of ISAs.