How Can We Understand Senior Camps in Relation to Social Policies and Images of Ageing?

Sunday, 10 July 2016
Location: Hörsaal 33 (Main Building)
Distributed Paper
Gabriella NILSSON, Department of cultural sciences, Sweden
Janicke ANDERSSON, CASE, Sweden
Since the beginning of 2000 senior camps have been established on several places in Sweden,with the purpose to decrease social exclusion and improve health amongst old people. These senior camps build on notions of what it means to age and to ”be old” in relation to activity, health, functional abilities and participation in society. In addition, the camps are firmly grounded in cultural norms on how to "do camps", and what is important values for well-being, often connected to nostalgia and national icons. In a cross-scientific and holistic study at CASE, Lund university these senior camps have been studied from three perspectives 1) History of ideas. What is the cultural meaning of senior camps? 2) Ethnology: how is age made visible and important at senior camps? 3) Occupational Science: What are the individual social and health aspects of the senior camp?

In this presentation we focus on the results from part study 1, that is, the cultural and historical meaning of senior camps.The data consists of material from the camps and interviews with directors for the senior camps.  We will frame senior camps in a cultural context and discuss them in relation to discourses of active ageing and care. Furthermore, we will show examples of how the organisation of, and the rhetoric surrounding senior camps is similar to the child camp tradition in Sweden  where culture, the idea of nature, activity and governing becomes central issues.  What structural and ideological values about age and "Swedishness" are made visible in these utterances? We will discuss this in relation to our findings.