Ageing in the city: geographies of social interactions and everyday life

Negrini, Chiara (2015) Ageing in the city: geographies of social interactions and everyday life. (PhD thesis), Kingston University, .


The ageing of the population in the United Kingdom poses urgent challenges to urban policy and planning committed to create accessible and inclusive public spaces. Issues of accessibility of outdoor environments have been addressed extensively in terms of design and service provision. However, the same attention has not been paid to more intangible factors related to older people’s personal experiences of navigating the built environment. In particular, everyday encounters and social interactions between older people and other users of public spaces have been identified in policy and academic research as significant in influencing the usability of places, but there has been far less engagement with how these interactions actually unfold. The gap is addressed in this thesis through the investigation of older people’s social experiences as they navigate the urban environment. Research subjects provided nuanced interpretations of outdoor sociability. The research demonstrates that sociability manifests in different ways, not all of which are positive. Older people’s everyday life is explored in the thesis by relating sociability to mobility, recreational activities and perceptions of the urban landscape. In this way the research addresses the knowledge gap into the ways in which older people spend their time outdoors and on the physical and social features of cities that they do or do not enjoy. This research problematises issues of urban sociability that are often overlooked in policy discourses on sustainable communities and inclusive public spaces and it deepens our understanding of older people’s day-to-day life outdoors. This is of significant importance if we want to advance our knowledge on how to enhance quality of life in old age through informed policy and practice. The research contributes also to geographers’ engagement with innovative research methods, as it develops a mixed-methods approach that combines ethnographic investigation with mobile and visual data.

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