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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

(p.97) Three Lifetimes, meaning and listening to older people
Ageing, insight and wisdom

Ricca Edmondson

Policy Press

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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