Women's lived experiences of aging: fragments of daily life from a seniors centre
Üstel, Kevser Pınar (2013) Women's lived experiences of aging: fragments of daily life from a seniors centre. [Thesis]
This thesis focuses on the aging experiences of a group of women residing in Istanbul, aged between 60-83. The research participants, who live in their own houses and spend their daytime in Şişli Municipality‘s Seniors Centre, have different biographies and configurations of economic, social and cultural capitals; yet the socialization in the same setting provides a commonality of daily life experiences. Based on participant observation and in-depth interviews, the research explores how the old age is given meaning; how different aspects of life such as the bodily changes, health, beauty and clothing, domestic life and housework, intimacy, loneliness, ethnic and class differences are experienced and narrated by the participants. Institutional space plays an important role in the research: Women‘s narratives point at the it as an ordinary part of their daily lives and Seniors Centre constitutes the actual space hosting and shaping the fieldwork performance. The boundary between private sphere and public life gets blurred in the narratives and the political attachment produced in the institution can be conveyed by the participants along with very "personal" issues. The study pays attention to the Seniors Centre which is constructed as "a unique institution" in a context where the rightbased social policies are weak. This study states that later life is a part of the gendered experience by listening to old women‘s life stories, by sharing their everyday "nagging", gossip and jokes in context. The ethnography not only traces women‘s relations to each other, but also their relations to the researcher intruding their lives are discussed, and the researcher is made visible. This thesis aims to make a humble contribution to the literatures on aging and gender in Turkey.
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