chapter  1
22 Pages

Women ageing: changing identities, challenging myths

ByMIRIAM BERNARD, PAT CHAMBERS, GILLIAN GRANVILLE

The authors of this book are women who have been, and in many cases still are, associated with what was formerly the Department of Applied Social Studies at Keele University and is now part of the School of Social Relations. We have academic interests and professional backgrounds in gerontology, social work and counselling, and many of us have taught both undergraduate and postgraduate students. While the book reflects these professional interests, it also draws specifically on the research that we have all undertaken on various aspects of the lives of mid-life and older women. The book is concerned with understanding better what ageing is like for women and has been developed around a series of key themes and issues. In particular, we are concerned with the ways in which women construct and reconstruct their identities in mid-life and beyond and how this changes. This involves consideration of the multiple identities which women develop and of the negotiations and renegotiations which occur as women deal with particular transitions or circumstances in their lives. We also hope to challenge some of the myths which have grown up around women’s traditional roles and expectations of ageing, showing how the reality of our lives during the second half of the life-course is still shaped and constrained by a variety of external pressures. We uncover not only the commonalities and similarities between mid-life and older women but also some of the variation and diversity relating to ethnicity and race, class, disability and sexual orientation. The concluding chapter explores the range of strategies that women adopt in managing these changes to their own lives and the possible responses which society now needs to make in terms of both policy and practice.