Leisure in 21st Century later life

  • Tania Wiseman

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    This research acknowledges that ideas about ageing as a matter of public concern have been shared widely and explores the impact these ideas have in the everyday lives of ordinary people. It is concerned with the freedom to enjoy later life leisure and the politics of active ageing. My research aims to separate the study of leisure in later life from notions of illness and vulnerability with an empirical study of later leisure lives. The background chapter explains that most older people in the UK are not ill, poor or alone. The literature review explores constraints to leisure in a healthy later life. This is mainly focused on outdoors sports, which is a niche activity in later life in the UK.

    My research asks how the general population of less active people negotiate leisure in the context of everyday later life; and how they interact with metanarratives about ageing. The methodology recognises that leisure identities are publicly constructed, but leisure is a private affair. Methodologies that successfully illuminate later leisure lives are narrative with reflective accounts of participation. Mass Observation Archive directives provoke candid open accounts that enable leisure lifestyles to be analysed, they provide opportunity to analyse how leisure lives are negotiated and illustrate relationships between self and culture. Thematic analysis of narrative of these materials was conducted to address the research questions.

    The findings illustrate plural understandings of what it means to be an ‘active’ ager for these 26 correspondents at this time. They illustrate that much leisure in later life is home based. It is cheap, familiar, comfortable and hidden from prying eyes. The correspondents choose to be at home, enjoying passive, educational and connecting leisurely pastimes. There are no individuals in this study, no independent active agers, because the very idea of an individual is undermined by their stories. When we think about the ‘active ager’ we are thinking about the individual in the liberal sense as a self-determining actor, where individuals can calculate whether certain activities are worth pursuing. But I did not find these self-interested individuals, I found deeply connected, concerned unique people. We need to pay close attention to how these ideas of active ageing impact on how honoured people feel, about how they may have to write themselves as less successful agers than others, or how it may cause discord in their homes.
    Date of Award19 Sept 2019
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • University of Brighton
    SupervisorAndrew Church (Supervisor), Neil Ravenscroft (Supervisor) & Paul Gilchrist (Supervisor)


    • Leisure
    • later life
    • critical active ageing
    • passive leisure
    • mass observation archive
    • secondary data

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