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Session Overview
SP07: Ageing in Europe: Agency, Citizenship and the Dynamics of Power - with Clary Krekula and Bernhart Weicht
Thursday, 22/Aug/2019:
9:00am - 10:30am

Session Chair: Dirk Hofaecker, University of Duisburg-Essen
Session Chair: Edward Tolhurst, Staffordshire University
Location: BS.G.36
Manchester Metropolitan University Building: Business School, Ground Floor Oxford Road

Session Abstract

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Ageing, Time and Embodied Relatedness

Clary Krekula

Karlstad University, Sweden

Time is an ever-present dimension of human life, a specific mode of experience and an intrinsic dimension of subjectivity and sociality. Still, however, temporal experiences are often taken for granted rather than being expressed and reflected upon explicitly in everyday life. As a consequence, phenomena of time are not only intertwined with, but also confused with, phenomena of aging, both in everyday life and in research. Accordingly, there is a need to discuss the relationship between time, temporality and aging. By showing how temporal analyses contribute to new theoretical perspectives on central research topics, this paper illustrates the fruitfulness of bringing time and temporality into critical studies on both age and aging.

Based on analyses of qualitative interviews with 25 women and 8 men in Sweden, aged 52–81, who dance on a regular basis, and with a focus on their experiences of passion for dance, the paper discusses temporal dimensions of embodiment and subjectivity. The results shed light on three temporal experiences which create passion: An extended present, the embodied synchronization between the dancers, and experiences of a temporal continuity. Where previous studies on older people’s embodiment have tended to focus on the relation between inner subjectivity and an externally limiting body, these results draw attention to “embodied relatedness”, to the interplay between social and bodily processes, and they illustrate how temporality constitutes a link in these processes. Departing from these results, theoretical considerations on the relationship between temporality and aging will be made.


Clary Krekula is Professor of Sociology at Karlstad University, Sweden. Her research focuses on critical age studies, ageing from an intersectional perspective, and time and temporality. From these perspectives, she has brought attention to women’s embodied ageing and to age normalities and temporal regimes in work organisations. She is involved in national and international collaborations within these fields and runs the national network AgeS: a Swedish research network, which focuses on developing critical age studies and research on temporality. She is currently conducting research on dynamics of inequality across the life course, self-employment later in life and the social and corporeal aspects of dancing among older people. Her most recent books are Gender, Ageing and Extended Working Life. Cross-National Perspectives (with A. Ní Leime, D. Street, S. Vickerstaff & W. Loretto) and Introduktion till kritiska åldersstudier (Introduction to critical age studies) (with B. Johansson).

Agency, Choice And Control Until The End: Investigating The “Good Death”

Bernhard Weicht

University of Innsbruck, Austria

Demographic and epidemiological developments have encouraged investigation into the latest life stages, often marked by dependencies, vulnerabilities and institutional living, with stigmatised deaths in institutions after periods of suffering and dependency functioning as symbolic antithesis to the good life and the proper person. More recently the importance of a “good death” has shifted the focus more explicitly onto the possibilities of choice and control over the end of life. People express their unwillingness to live a life of being a burden and of being dependent on others. In self-imposed withdrawal or requests for assisted dying the ability of agency is being upheld to represent a “good death” and a person’s autonomy. The underlying assumption here is that choice and the ability to plan one’s life until and beyond death confirm the existence of the proper person. While this idea is built around one assumption - the priority of individual separateness and independence - dying preferences and circumstances are shaped in concrete, culturally situated social relations.

In this paper I analyse public discourses in different national contexts to identify the associations, connotations and constructions underlying the concept of the “good death” and the role agency can play in its conceptualisation. Drawing on a critical discourse analysis of newspaper debates, I ask in how far debates on euthanasia and assisted dying take up the ideals of choice and control in order to combat the challenges and fears associated with the latest life stage. The paper argues that this reasoning, while upholding the ideal of the good life, often reverts to an individualistic notion and thereby ignoring the social and relational context of old age and dying.


Bernhard has studied Economics in Vienna/Austria and Social Policy in Nottingham/UK. He holds a PhD from the University of Nottingham where he researched the social and moral construction of care for older people. He continued his work on care and ageing as Marie Curie Fellow at Utrecht University, Netherlands with a project on the intersections of care and migration regimes. Prior to joining the department of Sociology at the University of Innsbruck he worked as lecturer at Leiden University College. He received his Habilitation at the University of Innsbruck in 2018 with his work entitled “A Caring Sociology for Ageing Societies“. Bernhard has published on the construction of care, ideas of dependency, migrant care workers, the intersection of migration and care regimes and the construction of ageing. He is the author of The Meaning of Care (2015) and co-editor of The Commonalities of Global Crisis (2016), both published by Palgrave Macmillan.

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