• Emilie Kira Christiansen
4. term, Learning and Innovative Change, Master (Master Programme)
The master thesis examines the elderly's choice of old age in senior housing communities, including which opportunities and constraints created by joining a senior community as well as whether resi-dents in senior housing communities feel that the framework is developed as they want in terms of achieving their preferred lifestyle through old age.
The master thesis is questioning the existing social structures of elderly's choice of old age in senior housing communities in the Danish society today. The study is developed from a social constructiv-ist perspective of the field, where empirical evidence is gathered through qualitative methodology through semi-structured interviews and focus group interviews and limited field observations. The master thesis collects empiricism from thirteen respondents from four differently-built senior hous-ing communities, two of which are older communities and two are newly established. The master thesis will, through the residents’ own tales of their lives in senior communities, try to contribute in micro level to national research in elder-friendly environments that can potentially be passed on to international research, for example, to the WHO Global Network for Age-Friendly Cities and Communities.
With inspiration from Chris Phillipson's international social studies on the reconstruction of old age in modern society, the master thesis sets up problematizations in how to achieve the aspirations of elderly people in terms of a dignified life and a socially active ageing, expressing their opportunities and limitations in senior housing communities in society today. In addition, Etienne Wenger's defi-nition of community practices is included in the analysis of the joint community activities, as well as the use of analytical concepts inspired by Pierre Bourdieus conceptual apparatus.
The master thesis concludes that elderly people choose to move in senior housing communities be-cause of the physical remedial and disability-friendly framework that can support the elderly to stay as long as possible in their own homes as well as a desire for an active and social ageing that can be easier achieved through social relations between residents in the senior housing community, which can be developed through the building of community practices with peers.
The residents try to build an inclusive community of practices where both individual and collective rights are catered for in the community, through the democratic development of the structures of the community and joint activities. A senior housing community offers elderly people physical frame-works and social structures that create opportunities for achieving the individual's desired life-style, while at the same time imposing restrictions on this self-chosen life-style, created by mutual expecta-tions and demands that the individual elderly is subjected to by the community of practice.
Residents wish to further develop the neighborhoods' framework so that all residents participate in the development of shared areas and practices. The normative framework of the senior housing community is created by collective expectations that limit the individual's self-chosen social practic-es and life-style. To exclude oneself from building well-functioning social relationships is consid-ered illegitimate practice because the senior housing community has developed socially-designed norms in terms of all residents being involved in joint activities and co-development of an inclusive community of practice, which should simultaneously offer older people to join the community in accordance with their own practices. There is consequently a risk that residents in the senior com-munities develop unreliable social relations, as the patterns of action and individual practices are governed by collective moral obligations. The individual resident should abide by the standards of the focal community of practice if they wish to join and co-develop the community of practice in the senior housing community.
There is a risk of fundamental conflicts between individual and collective rights in the attempt to build an inclusive community of practice. In addition, the residents also struggle for the definition rights in relation to the physical development of senior housing communities with the developers. These continuous struggles and conceivable constraints, due to mutual expectations and demands, are residents willing to go through in order to achieve a desired life-style through old age and expe-rience being part of a larger community of practice with well-functioning social relationships among peers, where everyone are given the opportunities to lead a self-chosen, dignified, active and social life.
Publication date31 May 2018
Number of pages180
ID: 280148470