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Ageing, insight and wisdomMeaning and practice across the lifecourse$
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Ricca Edmondson

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9781847425935

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781847425935.001.0001

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Lifetimes, meaning and listening to older people

Lifetimes, meaning and listening to older people

Chapter:
(p.97) Three Lifetimes, meaning and listening to older people
Source:
Ageing, insight and wisdom
Author(s):

Ricca Edmondson

Publisher:
Policy Press
DOI:10.1332/policypress/9781847425935.003.0004

This chapter offers a threefold division in gerontological approaches to meaning and insight in older people’s lives. ‘Meaning’ may, first, stress connectedness between individuals and some wider set of circumstances: having values or practices going beyond oneself. This may include ‘spiritual’ meaning, in the sense of transcendence, a feeling of connectedness with some wider aspect of existence; this is not limited to religious spirituality, and also embraces commitment to ethical meaning. Secondly, meaning may explicitly highlight the life-course, taking special account of the role of time. This includes ideas about personal development and ‘tasks of life’ – challenges in relation to community, work or relationships. It includes pride or lack of it that people may take in their own life-courses; generational meaning; and ‘generativity’. The third group focuses on meaning in the sense of insight. First, older people’s very existence can be a source of insight for others; secondly, life-course meaning may refer to familiarity with the human condition. Thirdly, there is meaning or insight in the sense of wisdom, explored in more detail in the subsequent chapter.

Keywords:   meaning, connectedness, spirituality, insight, wisdom, reconstructive ethnography, time, narrative, practice

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