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Countryside connections

Countryside connections: Older people, community and place in rural Britain

Catherine Hagan Hennessy
Robin Means
Vanessa Burholt
Foreword by Alan Walker
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  • Book Info
    Countryside connections
    Book Description:

    Older people in the countryside are vastly under-researched compared to those in urban areas. This innovative volume, the first project-based book in the New Dynamics of Ageing series, offers a unique interdisciplinary perspective on this issue, focusing on older people’s role as assets in rural civic society. It demonstrates how the use of diverse methods from across disciplines aims to increase public engagement with this research. The authors examine the ways in which rural elders are connected to community and place, the contributions they make to family and neighbours, and the organisations and groups to which they belong. Highly topical issues around later life explored through these perspectives include older people’s financial security, leisure, access to services, transport and mobility, civic engagement and digital inclusion – all considered within the rural context in an era of fiscal austerity. In doing so, this book challenges problem-based views of ageing rural populations through considering barriers and facilitators to older people’s inclusion and opportunities for community participation in rural settings. Countryside Connections is a valuable text for students, researchers and practitioners with interests in rural ageing, civic engagement and interdisciplinary methods, theory and practice.

    eISBN: 978-1-4473-1031-0
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. List of tables and figures
    (pp. v-vi)
  2. Acknowledgements
    (pp. vii-viii)
    Catherine Hagan Hennessy, Robin Means and Vanessa Burholt
  3. Foreword
    (pp. xv-xvi)
    Alan Walker

    This important book spotlights older people’s participation in rural community life and, especially, the ways in which older rural dwellers are connected to their communities and the contributions they make to rural civic society. The dominant gerontological focus on urban environments has led to the neglect of older people living in rural areas. Unfortunately, in terms of policy and practice and also with regard to research, the specific concerns of this group of older people are often overlooked. Yet, as the editors point out, key gerontological themes, such as social inclusion, support networks, financial security, social participation, availability of and...

  4. ONE Countryside connections in later life: setting the scene
    (pp. 1-30)
    Catherine Hagan Hennessy, Robin Means and Vanessa Burholt

    The purpose of this chapter is to describe the background and guiding interdisciplinary framework of a programme of research on ageing in rural areas of the UK that forms the basis of this book. The topic of this research is older people’s participation in rural community life, in particular, the ways in which rural elders are connected to their communities and their contributions to rural civic society. This focus brings together a number of established and emerging strands of gerontological interest – the social inclusion (and exclusion) of older people; their support networks; financial security; leisure participation; availability and access to...

  5. TWO Conceptualising rural connectivities in later life
    (pp. 31-62)
    Nigel Curry, Vanessa Burholt and Catherine Hagan Hennessy

    The way in which people connect with each other in particular places (such as rural areas) has been discussed and evaluated in many different ways. The dominant contemporary characterisation among policymakers and politicians the world over tends to be a functionalist one: people connecting together offer great potential for social integration, the development of collective values and social cohesion (Forrest and Kearns, 2001; Wilkinson, 2008). It is assumed that stronger integration and greater social cohesion will make society a better place (Jaffe and Quark, 2006). In relation to older people, this rationale is reflected, for example, in the national strategy...

  6. THREE Rural connectivity and older people’s leisure participation
    (pp. 63-94)
    Catherine Hagan Hennessy, Yvette Staelens, Gloria Lankshear, Andrew Phippen, Avril Silk and Daniel Zahra

    The leisure participation of older people has been an enduring research topic in gerontology, with current interest focused on the health and well-being benefits of leisure engagement as part of ‘active ageing’. This attention reflects growing epidemiological evidence on the positive impact of continuing participation in older age in activities such as hobbies, cultural pursuits and volunteerism (Schooler and Mulatu, 2001; Crowe et al, 2003;Verghese et al, 2003; Greaves and Farbus, 2006; Wang et al, 2006; Cohen et al, 2007; Chaves et al, 2009; Doyle et al, 2010; Heo et al, 2010). The role of leisure as a source of...

  7. FOUR Connecting with community: the nature of belonging among rural elders
    (pp. 95-124)
    Vanessa Burholt, Nigel Curry, Norah Keating and Jacquie Eales

    Place attachment is a particular type of connectivity that could be described as the ‘glue’ that connects people to places. The study of place attachment stems from phenomenology and builds on the philosophical premises concerning the sense of belonging and beingin-the-world. Typically, this approach shies away from reductionist or psychometric approaches to the study of place attachment and uses qualitative data to examine this concept. Although such qualitative approaches provide useful conceptions around place attachment, qualitative data are not readily empirically generalisable. Because a central aim of social gerontology has been to apply research to improve the lives of older...

  8. FIVE Beyond transport: understanding the role of mobilities in connecting rural elders in civic society
    (pp. 125-158)
    Graham Parkhurst, Kathleen Galvin, Charles Musselwhite, Judith Phillips, Ian Shergold and Les Todres

    This chapter argues for an understanding of connectivity through mobility by elders living in rural areas that goes beyond the traditional transport planning focus on the supply of and demand for transport services. This involves consideration of not just physical movement, but also all the other ways in which older people can be ‘mobile’ for connectivity and the wider benefits and meanings mobility brings, for example, video-calling grandchildren using computer software, finding out about shopping delivery services for use in bad weather or compiling a scrapbook about a past alpine holiday. Following a brief review of methods, a conceptual framework...

  9. SIX Deep mapping and rural connectivities
    (pp. 159-192)
    Jane Bailey, Iain Biggs and Daniel Buzzo

    This chapter reflects on a project carried out by a small arts and humanities team that explored older adults’ connectivity in the physical, social and cultural landscapes of North Cornwall as part of the larger Grey and Pleasant Land (GaPL) research programme. The research team comprised members with disciplinary backgrounds in the visual arts, digital media and cultural area studies with methodological expertise in ethnography.

    The approach adopted in this work was that of ‘deep mapping’, a process of engaging with place in temporal depth; weaving together multiple voices, impressions and images from conversational exchange and fieldwork. In this case,...

  10. SEVEN Older people, low income and place: making connections in rural Britain
    (pp. 193-220)
    Shane Doheny and Paul Milbourne

    It is usually in the winter months that the connections between poverty and older people are made by the media, campaign groups and politicians in the UK. Recent coverage of these connections in the national press, for example, has focused on findings from a survey of older people commissioned by the charity Age UK, which indicates that about two million people aged over 60 years are so cold that they retire to bed when they are not tired with a similar number moving into a single room within their homes in order to reduce their energy bills. What is also...

  11. EIGHT Connecting with older people as project stakeholders: lessons for public participation and engagement in rural research
    (pp. 221-244)
    Simon Evans, Ray Jones and Janet Smithson

    Aspirations to increase ‘user involvement’ in the planning, provision and evaluation of public services have been a consistent feature on the political agenda in the UK. The Labour government that left office in 2010 aimed to increase public participation and engagement in a broad range of services, and in the health and social care sector in particular. For example,The NHS plan(Department of Health, 2002) asserted the rights of service users and the public to be involved in the planning and delivery of health care. This overall drive towards greater public engagement included the aim to involve older people...

  12. NINE Towards connectivity in a Grey and Pleasant Land?
    (pp. 245-276)
    Robin Means, Vanessa Burholt and Catherine Hagan Hennessy

    We have seen how the Grey and Pleasant Land (GaPL) research project was based on an interdisciplinary collaboration that brought together two dozen researchers at five universities to study the civic and social lives of older people in six different rural communities in England and Wales. As explained in Chapter One by Hennessy, Means and Burholt, we followed an approach in which the cross-cutting theme of connectivity was used as a ‘heuristic metaphor’ (Klamor and Leonard, 1994), with the aim of facilitating shared theorising through the collective adoption of this shared concept. This chapter, therefore, starts with some reflections on...