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"Jag har alla åldrar i mig!"

Licentiate thesis
Authors Natalie Davet
Date of public defense 2019-12-06
Opponent at public defense Anna Sparrman, professor i visuell kultur vid Linköpings universitet
Publication year 2020
Published at Department of Education, Communication and Learning
Language sv
Keywords critical age studies, childhood, youth, ageing, culture, intergenerational, power, age-categorization, position, age-coding, doing age, age-organization, unmarked adulthood
Subject categories Other Humanities not elsewhere specified, Gerontology, specializing in Medical and Health Sciences, Youth research, Children, Educational Sciences


This study investigates the production of age in three state-funded intergenerational projects, intended to increase age integration between young and old citizens. The main aim of the study is to contribute to the production of knowledge about age as a social category and power system. The study is a small scale one year project which focuses on municipal intergenerational culture activities in one of Sweden’s larger cities. Three intergenerational projects within the fine arts (theater, literature and photography), were selected for the present study. The research questions are: How is age conditioned by the organization of the activity? How is age constructed through interactions within the participant group, and are there any circumstances in which age loses significance through the participants' interactions?, Which age norms become prominent through the activity? The study takes a social constructionist approach due to Vivien Burr. The theoretical framework is based on the theories of Michel Foucault, but also Judith Butler’s ideas about position to analyze how age is constructed. The theoretical discussion relates to the emerging research field of critical age studies, connecting childhood and youth studies with the research field of social gerontology. The results show that age is made significant in different ways. The organized encounters and everyday interactions between young and old participants are regulated through the idea of age difference between young and old. The study shows that the participants are given different conditions and obligations based on both gender and age-related norms concerning freedom, control, technical knowledge, vulnerability, care needs, responsibility, agility and adaptability. The intergenerational activities appear to be organized in a tradition where adulthood becomes the dominant age norm that seems to lack any need for integration. The activities therefore put adulthood in a vague but at the same time superior position in relation to other age groups. On an age-related level, it is apparent that the ages of children, adolescents and the elderly are marked in relation to adulthood.

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