More-than older age: making sense of place

Student thesis: Phd


There is a growing and more heterogeneous older urban population. Yet representations of older age are often overly simplistic and reductionist in western societies. Against this backdrop, I consider how older age is lived to complicate and enliven homogenising representations of older age. The rich ethnographic accounts shared were developed through a flexible combination of methods with 32 older people from the Greater Manchester town of Prestwich over 12 months. I foreground the more-than-representational aspects of experience to consider what representations of older age do in the lives of older individuals; how older people live and attach to places; how memory works and mediates lived experiences of the city; and how we might research-with (rather than on) older people. Specifically, this thesis responds to calls for the incorporation of relational and more-than-representational approaches into the geographic study of older age to strengthen research on ageing. I bring together life-course and more-than-representational theories to advance current debates surrounding age relationality. I illustrate how more-than-representational theories foreground how pasts, presents and futures emerge together as time is lived, demonstrating how memories are not locked in a past but are multiple and mobile. I show how using a flexible combination of different methods over time and attuning to the possibilities and potential of methods as they unfold produces detailed, non-linear biographical accounts. This thesis demonstrates how more-than-representational approaches can speak to policy in ways they are often deemed unable. I caution how impact does not have to be an end point: benefit can be found in the doing of research through capacity building. Geographical research on ageing must continue to foreground those more-than-representational dynamics which are often overlooked in favour of a simple narrative.
Date of Award1 Aug 2020
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorChristopher Perkins (Supervisor) & Kevin Ward (Supervisor)


  • Place
  • Representation
  • Life-course
  • Non-representational theory
  • Affect
  • Older age

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