Negotiating well-being: older people's narratives of relationships and relationality

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This article discusses well-being in old age by drawing on findings from participatory research carried out by older co-researchers exploring how older people learn to sustain their own and others' well-being. It considers the way the in which research based in older people's experience can inform ethical policy and practice capable of delivering well-being. It critiques individualized notions of well-being and provides a counter- perspective based in relational understandings of what it is to be human drawn from feminist care ethics. This offers a different way of understanding the significance of social relationships and networks to older people's well-being from that offered by a focus on ‘community' which has emerged in the communitarian discourses of the UK Coalition government. It illustrates this with older people's accounts of well-being highlighting the ways in which relationships with people, places and spaces are negotiated with ageing. Finally it argues that this relational conceptualization of well-being embodies values and the ethical dimensions of responsibility based in lived experiences. This provides the basis for alternative values-based policies and practices which we need to distinguish from the instrumental expression of social relationships and ‘community' within communitarian discourses.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)293-305
Number of pages13
JournalEthics and Social Welfare
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 17 Jul 2014

Bibliographical note

This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Ethics and Social Welfare 2014, available online:


  • Older People
  • Relational Well-being
  • Feminist Care Ethics
  • Relationships
  • Relationality


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