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'We must put ourselves in the position of the subject who tries to find his way in this world, and we must remember, first of all, that the environment by which he is influenced and to which he adapts himself is his world, not the objective world of science.'

W.I. Thomas
and
F. Znaniecki

Qualitative Sociology Review
2010
Volume VI Issue 1


Author-Supplied Abstracts & Keywords


John W. Murphy
     University of Miami, USA
Steven L. Arxer
     Belmont Abbey College, USA
Linda L. Belgrave
     University of Miami, USA

The Life Course Metaphor: Implications for Biography and Interpretive Research

This article examines how much of qualitative research in gerontology in the United States is undertaken in the context of life course theory. Some critics, such as Gubrium and Holstein, have criticized the naturalism in life course studies, particularly how such realism might divert attention away from the activity whereby persons constrict their lives. Nonetheless, critics continue to use metaphors to describe how a life is constructed that are consistent with this underlying naturalism. As a result of retaining this idiom, the life course can be easily reified. In this sense, this paper focuses on the likely problems caused by the use of these metaphors, while invoking some more recent theories, such as phenomenology, to demonstrate alternatives to constructing personal biography.

Keywords:
Life course; Interpretive research; Politics; Constructionism; Biography
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Dawn C. Carr
     University of North Carolina, USA
Lydia K. Manning
     University of Miami, USA

A New Paradigm for Qualitative Research in the United States: The Era of the Third Age

This paper reviews qualitative research in the United States, highlighting the ways research has changed in the era of the third age. With growing attention to positive and uplifting aspects of aging, qualitative research has played a critical role in the exploration of the ways in which older adults are engaging in meaningful ways with others. We describe two key methodological approaches that have been important to examining positive aspects of aging and exploring the extent to which a growing number of years of healthy retirement are redefining the aging experience: ethnographic research and grounded theory research. We also review key topics associated with qualitative research in the era of the third age. These topics fit within two dominant frameworks – research exploring meaning-making in later life and research exploring meaningful engagement in later life. These frameworks were critically important to raising attention to meaningful experiences and interactions with others, and we propose that the agenda for future qualitative research in the United States should continue contributing to these frameworks. However, we note that a third framework should also be developed which examines what it means to be a third ager through use of a phenomenological approach, which will assist in the important task of theory building about the third age.

Keywords:
Third age; Qualitative gerontology; Meaning making; Meaningful engagement
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Sheying Chen
     Indiana University, USA

Qualitative Research and Aging in Context: Implications to Social Policy Study in China

This article begins with a review of methods that gerontologists use in social and behavioral research. The value and focus of qualitative research are highlighted with their epistemological roots. Qualitative approaches and their uses are summarized in terms of "interpretive" and "critical" social sciences that drew the insights of sociological paradigms. With a further review of qualitative research on aging and gerontological studies in China, the article focuses on an integrated micro-macro model by illuminating the ideas of clinical sociology and the general public policy framework of an "economic state in transition". Implications to social policy study (particularly on aging in China) are discussed

Keywords:
Qualitative Research; Gerontology; Clinical Sociology; Social Policy and GPP; Aging in China
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Ian G. Cook
    Liverpool John Moores University, UK
Jamie Halsall
    University of Huddersfield , UK
Jason L. Powell
     University of Liverpool, UK

Comparative Aging and Qualitative Theorizing

The principal aim of this argument is to analyse the swift expansion in the proportion of older people across the globe, and to highlight the main social and economic forces causing this through methodological challenges especially through the lens of qualitative methodology. We recognise the enormity of the task. Drawing from a range of qualitative research studies provides enriched meanings about aging identity that can be used to shed light on how aging is experienced in equal to how it has been defined in macro or populational terms. Balancing micro and macro levels of understanding is key to open up broader level of explaining what it means to be an older person in different cultures Whilst this is a noble aim, there is no doubt that the rapid increase in population aging across the globe is signalling the most astonishing populational changes in the history of humankind that qualitative levels of understanding are uniquely placed to balance the huge figures in describing complex demography in that qualitative methodology unravels the facts and instead reveals the narratives, meanings and identity formation of research subjects; whereas statistical research has pre-dominantly made its findings looking at people as research objects or as a ‘number’ (Gruber and Wise 2004). The balance is key but this paper explores the issue of comparative aging underpinned by what Powell and Cook (2001) call ‘qualitative theorising’ in making sense of statistical and experiential aging.

Keywords:
Aging; Global understanding; Qualitative theorizing; Nation states
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