This book focuses on older people as makers of meaning and insight, highlighting the evolving values, priorities and ways of communicating that make later life fascinating. It explores what creating ‘meaning’ in later life really implies, for older people themselves, for how to conceptualise older people and for relationships between generations.
The book offers a language for discussing major types of lifecourse meaning, not least those concerning ethical and temporal aspects of the ways people interpret their lifecourses, the ways older people form part of social and symbolic landscapes, and the types of wisdom they can offer.
It will appeal to students of gerontology, sociological methodology, humanistic sociology, philosophy, psychology, and health promotion and medicine.
"Ricca Edmondson’s truly remarkable book demonstrates that wisdom is not a collection of proverbs but an expression of a deeply humane quest for insight which may intensify as people grow older. An inspiring, deeply reflected work that looks beyond the dominant agendas of contemporary ageing." Jan Baars, University of Humanistic Studies, The Netherlands
"In five succinct chapters Ricca Edmondson provides an eminently valuable and useful exploration of the nature of meaning in later life, both as meaning attributed to old age and as found and realised within it. Mixing together the narratives of people known as friends and colleagues with the accounts of people as research subjects, she provides a welcome overview of issues and themes to which other books on ageing often give scant or only passing regard. Highly recommended." Chris Gilleard, Visiting Research Fellow, UCL, London
"This is a book of rare distinction and import. Tremendously learned yet modest, quietly powerful in its advocacy of meaning and wisdom in gerontology. In a word, liberating." Thomas R. Cole, The University of Texas
"Ricca Edmondson’s critical expedition into the wisdom of the ages and keen observations of everyday life in the West of Ireland transform our understanding of ageing as artful, ethical, meaningful and deeply human." Stephen Katz, Trent University
Ricca Edmondson (died June 2021) was Professor of Political Science and Sociology at the National University of Ireland, Galway. After studying philosophy at the University of Lancaster and writing her D.Phil. at Oxford on reasoning in the social sciences, she carried out research at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin. She then joined the School of Political Science and Sociology at the National University of Ireland, Galway, specialising in interdisciplinary and intercultural approaches to life-course meaning and wisdom, and their history, landscapes and social settings.
Foreword by Rick Moody;
Life Courses, Insight and Meaning;
Diminishing Older People: Silence, Occlusion and ‘Fading’;
Lifetimes, Meaning and Listening to Older People;
Languages for Life-Course Meanings;
Meaning and intergenerationality: approaches by younger people;
Conclusion: Morality, Insight and Wisdom in Life-course Construction.