The victims of a sorted life : ageing and caregiving in an American retirement community
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This thesis is an ethnographic analysis of a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) in the American Midwest. I examine salient aspects of American culture, and how persons in the American Midwest understand relationships and themselves in the context of eldercare, and particularly, how issues of personhood and kinship are conceptualised in a long-term care facility. Rather than focusing exclusively on just the labour of caregivers, or how the residents in the CCRC receive care, my study is grounded in the interaction and relations that obtain during specific regimes of caregiving. Because the exigencies of ageing are met with certain exigencies of care, this study touches upon three dominant themes that make sense of the tensions that emerge when principles and practices do not square up. The first theme deals with how ageing and care are constituted, and made relational to one other. Secondly, I demonstrate that in the CCRC where I conducted fieldwork, ageing is constructed as a process and institutionalised, resulting in a distinctive way in which space and time are dealt with and unravelled from their inextricability. The resulting consequences affect not just the older residents and the CCRC staff, but also impacts how caregiving takes on specific forms and meanings. Thirdly, I investigate how formal (professional) caregivers and care receivers produce a type of social relation, which cannot be understood alone by conventional studies of kinship and economic relations. Ultimately, this thesis sets the frame for future debate on the ontological commitments involved in eldercare, and how the segregation of care and of the elderly in society relate to wider social norms regarding ageing and marginality.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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