The (im)mobilities of COVID-19 in later life: burning and building generational bridges

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The COVID-19 pandemic foregrounded a numerical conception of age. Many of the targets of proposals to introduce age-specific restrictions are members of the 'baby boomer' generation, a generation that is widely recognised as having a youthful approach to ageing. Attending to arguments that baby boomers are a 'bridging' generation - i.e. they share cultural orientations with both preceding and succeeding generations - we argue that 'bridging' is a dynamic practice. Drawing on repeat interviews with 45 'war baby' and baby boomer women conducted prior to the pandemic and shortly after the first national lockdown, the paper demonstrates how lockdown restrictions brought to light older women's relationships to, and investments in, spatial mobilities. We focus on how they experienced and understood (im)mobilities in three realms: home life, going places and social connection. Pre-pandemic, mobilities in each of these realms had been important to how the women established youthfulness and resisted being seen as 'old'; mobilities helped older women 'bridge' with younger adult generations. This bridging was undermined practically, symbolically and discursively by their experiences of the lockdown, with profound consequences for perceptions of their ageing. Restrictions on spatial mobilities created conditions for older women to reassess and narrate the social world in generational terms. Their narratives provide an illuminating case study of the complex ways that generational cohort shapes experiences and self-understandings. We argue that the capacity of baby boomers to 'bridge' dynamically is a legacy of their youth.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAgeing and Society
Early online date31 Jul 2023
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • COVID-19
  • baby boomers
  • generational bridging
  • lockdown
  • mobility
  • self-determination


Dive into the research topics of 'The (im)mobilities of COVID-19 in later life: burning and building generational bridges'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this