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Perspectives on ageing, later life and ethnicity: Ageing research in ethnic minority contexts

Zubair, M and Norris, M (2015) Perspectives on ageing, later life and ethnicity: Ageing research in ethnic minority contexts. Ageing and Society, 35 (5). pp. 897-916. ISSN 1469-1779

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Abstract

Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2015. This special issue focuses broadly upon questions and themes relating to the current conceptualisations, representations and use of 'ethnicity' (and ethnic minority experiences) within the field of social gerontology. An important aim of this special issue is to explore and address the issue of 'otherness' within the predominant existing frameworks for researching those who are ageing or considered aged, compounded by the particular constructions of their ethnicity and ethnic 'difference'. The range of theoretical, methodological and empirical papers included in this collection provide some critical insights into particular facets of the current research agendas, cultural understandings and empirical focus of ethnic minority ageing research. The main emphasis is on highlighting the ways in which ethnic cultural homogeneity and 'otherness' is often assumed in research involving older people from ethnic minority backgrounds, and how wider societal inequalities are concomitantly (re)produced, within (and through) research itself - for example, based on narrowly defined research agendas and questions; the assumed age and/or ethnic differences of researchers vis-à-vis their older research participants; the workings of the formalised ethical procedures and frameworks; and the conceptual and theoretical frameworks employed in the formulation of research questions and interpretation of data. We examine and challenge here the simplistic categorisations and distinctions often made in gerontological research based around research participants' ethnicity, age and ageing and assumed cultural differences. The papers presented in this collection reveal instead the actual complexity and fluidity of these concepts as well as the cultural dynamism and diversity of experiences within ethnic groups. Through an exploration of these issues, we address some of the gaps in existing knowledge and understandings as well as contribute to the newly emerging discussions surrounding the use of particular notions of ethnicity and ethnic minority ageing as these are being employed within the field of ageing studies.

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