Tactics, Spaces, and Networks of Older People in the City: A Spatial-Ethnographic Study

Andrea Benze, Anuschka Kutz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Our societies are ageing to an unprecedented level. This ongoing demographic process presents our cities, architecture, and urban space with new challenges, prompting us to creatively reconsider well-known spatial and urban strategies. While we have made substantial progress in defining frameworks that seek to increase age-friendliness, such as the WHO’s “Global Age-Friendly Cities: A Guide,” which calls for better accessibility and increased embedment and participation of older people within our communities, we have still a fairly limited understanding of how older people actually partake in urban life and how they root themselves within its context, particularly from a spatial point of view. The work presented in this article seeks to bridge this perceived gap in current research by contributing a qualitative spatial ethnographic pilot study from the field of architecture and urbanism that explores the experiential realm of the city and the lived spaces of older people, specifically with regards to the tactics older people use in order to root themselves and partake in the city. The lived context is often far more diverse and complex than quantitative studies might imply, pointing to a need to redefine common assumptions about community, participation, and locality. The aim of the study is neither to verify a hypothesis nor to offer straightforward solutions, but to uncover the often hidden dimensions of older age, in order to generate new questions and ambitions. The wider aim of the research is to exceed the demand for an “accessible city” implemented through various practical measures by uncovering significant themes within the daily lives of older people that have the capacity to provide starting points for new urban and spatial strategies for the future city.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)27-44
Number of pages18
JournalAging & Social Change
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 29 Jan 2018


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