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Ageing in urban neighbourhoods

Ageing in urban neighbourhoods: Place attachment and social exclusion

Allison E. Smith
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  • Book Info
    Ageing in urban neighbourhoods
    Book Description:

    Many western nations have experienced a rise in the number of marginalised and deprived inner-city neighbourhoods. Despite a plethora of research focused on these areas, there remain few studies that have sought to capture the 'optimality' of ageing in place in such places. In particular, little is known about why some older people desire to age in place despite multiple risks in their neighbourhood and why others reject ageing in place. Given the growth in both the ageing of the population and policy interest in the cohesion and sustainability of neighbourhoods there is an urgent need to better understand the experience of ageing in marginalised locations. This book aims to address the shortfall in knowledge regarding older people's attachment to deprived neighbourhoods and in so doing progress what critics have referred to as the languishing state of environmental gerontology. The author examines new cross-national research with older people in deprived urban neighbourhoods and suggests a rethinking and refocusing of the older person's relationship with place. Impact on policy and future research are also discussed. This book will be relevant to academics, students, architects, city planners and policy makers with an interest in environmental gerontology, social exclusion, urban sustainability and design of the built environment.

    eISBN: 978-1-84742-272-9
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. List of boxes, tables and figures
    (pp. iv-iv)
  2. Foreword
    (pp. vi-vi)
    Judith Phillips

    The study of ageing is continuing to increase rapidly across multiple disciplines. Consequently students, academics, professionals and policy makers need texts on the latest research, theory, policy and practice developments in the field. With new areas of interest in mid- and later life opening up, the series bridges the gaps in the literature as well as providing cutting-edge debate on new and traditional areas of ageing within a lifecourse perspective. Taking this approach, the series addresses ‘ageing’ (rather than gerontology or ‘old age’) providing coverage of mid- as well as later life; it promotes a critical perspective and focuses on...

  3. ONE Introduction
    (pp. 1-6)

    Since the 1970s, most Western nations have experienced a growth in inequality (Gordon, 2006; OECD, 2008b) and, in particular, a rise in the number of marginalised and deprived inner-city neighbourhoods (EC, 1997; Gordon and Townsend, 2000; Lee, 2000; Lupton and Power, 2002; Power, 2009). This has raised significant concerns related to the social and economic health of many Western countries (Barnes et al, 2003; Levitas, 2005).

    Academic research and government policy have increasingly sought to focus on such areas (Power and Mumford, 1999; SEU, 2001a; Lupton and Power, 2002; see European Regional Development Fund,, as there has been, in...

  4. Part One: Revisiting the person–environment fit

    • TWO Environmental gerontology
      (pp. 9-36)

      Society has reached a historical period in the demographic profile of the population, bringing into focus a need to prepare nations to support ageing and older people. Although Lawton (1980) stated that a decent environment is a right requiring no empirical justification (see quote above), social policy and social change needs to be driven by a better understanding of what constitutes a ‘decent’ environment in which older people are committed to ageing in place. Environmental gerontology can and must play a role in the supply of knowledge to inform the health and well-being of older people and ensure that policy...

    • THREE Urban ageing
      (pp. 37-48)

      The previous chapter reviewed the last 40 years of empirical literature related to our understanding of the relationship between the older person and their environment. While this yielded a breadth of knowledge, there remain some substantial shortfalls within empirical knowledge that require urgent focus, particularly set against a context of other trends, in particular population ageing and urbanisation.

      The focus of this chapter is on examining ageing in urban environments and what this means for the person–environmental fit. The first section of the chapter briefly examines trends in both population ageing and urbanisation. The next section discusses factors present...

  5. Part Two: Rethinking the person–environment fit

    • FOUR Skid row? Area profiles
      (pp. 51-84)

      This chapter through to Chapter Six draw on new cross-national empirical research on older people living in deprived urban neighbourhoods in England¹ and Canada. The aim of this research is to build on the relative paucity of current research on ‘ageing in place’ and ‘place in ageing’ in these types of neighbourhoods, and as a consequence argue for the rethinking of the person–environmental fit paradigm. This chapter presents descriptive profiles of each of the cities and neighbourhoods in which the research was undertaken. It draws on both historical and contemporary sources, in addition to pictorial and descriptive accounts from...

    • FIVE Ageing in deprived neighbourhoods
      (pp. 85-134)

      This chapter presents the results and analysis of face-to-face interviews conducted with older people living in deprived urban neighbourhoods of Manchester, England, and Vancouver, Canada. The aim of the chapter is to better understand some of the factors that underpin older people’s desire to age in place despite multiple risks presented in their environment and conversely why others reject ageing in place.

      The analysis begins with a summary of the key characteristics of the research participants in the two cities. This profiles the sample in relation to such factors as gender, age, marital status, ethnicity, health status, housing tenure, educational...

    • SIX Reconceptualising the person–environment relationship
      (pp. 135-154)

      This chapter examines how the findings gained from researching ‘place and ageing’ in deprived neighbourhoods build on and progress our knowledge in the field of environmental gerontology. This chapter brings together and summarises the findings from 26 interviews in Manchester and 26 interviews in Vancouver – as expressed through eight case studies, 44 short biographies (Appendices A and B) and three participants’ photographs and descriptive text. It proposes a reconceptualisation of factors important in the person–environment relationship; such as the consideration of temporal dimensions (for example, past, present and future) and intervening variables (for example, such as religion and...

  6. Part Three: Refocusing the person–environment fit

    • SEVEN The way forward – building sustainability
      (pp. 157-172)

      Part One of this book sought to revisit our thinking and knowledge on the person–environment fit. This primarily examined the contribution of Lawton’s Ecological Model of Ageing and Rowles’ concepts of insideness. Part Two aimed to fill gaps in knowledge related to understanding the experiences of older people living in urban neighbourhoods – in particular deprived inner-city areas – and challenge current thinking about the relationship between the older person and their environment. Part Three aims to refocus the person–environment fit by presenting the next steps and the way forward. The focus of this chapter will be on...

    • EIGHT Influences, opportunities and challenges
      (pp. 173-182)

      This chapter considers current influences on and possible future opportunities and challenges to the person–environment relationship. The aim of the chapter is to highlight some of the externalities acting on the person–environment relationship and factors that might play a role in refocusing the way in which we have come to understand place and ageing. This will explorecurrentinfluences and how these might impact on interpretations and perceptions of place and ageing. In addition, it will addressfuturefactors that might work to challenge individuals’ emotive and physical attachment to place or equally present new opportunities to advance...

  7. NINE Conclusion
    (pp. 183-190)

    The goal of this book was to progress our understanding of the older person’s relationship with their neighbourhood and see a society – government – that is better able to meet the needs and support the aspirations of an ageing population. Given that ageing is malleable and that environment can have an enabling or disabling impact, there is a need to ensure that the agenda around ageing in place considers the importance of supportive environments in which we commit people to ageing.

    This last chapter summarises the main points raised in the book under each of the key overarching parts...

  8. APPENDIX A: Summary of participant characteristics
    (pp. 191-194)
  9. APPENDIX B: Short biographies of participants in Manchester and Vancouver
    (pp. 195-214)
  10. APPENDIX C: Mrs MacDougall’s short story
    (pp. 215-216)