Body, identity and ageing

Gražina Rapolienė


Increasing attention is being paid to understand a body and its meaning to an ageing identity in the postmodern Western gerontology, but in Lithuania this topic has not been studied yet. The objective of the article is to summarize insights of foreign authors and to analyse the role of a body in the social construction of ageing identity. The method of the investigation is comparative analysis.
This article reviews an ageing identity based on body and gender, analyses the concepts of development of modern Self (A.Giddens, 2000), of ageing body as „mask“ (M.Featherstone and M.Hepworth, 1993; Hepworth, 1991; B.S.Turner, 1995) and the old age concept of M.Foucault (1988). They are compared with data of research carried out in 1998 by scientists of Uppsala university, Sweden(Öberg, Tornstam, 2001).
The cultural representation of ageing raises a risk to the positive personal identity and generates preconditions for the social marginalisation of the elderly. There are findings challenging both the concept of an “ageing mask“ and the old age concept of Foucault, and there are indications that they could be correct in cases of separate social economic strata. Empirical research is needed to prove or to refute these suggestions, and to study the situation in Lithuania.


ageing; identity; body; gender

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"Social Work" ISSN online 2029-2775 / ISSN print 1648-4789