Shifting Masculinities in Later Life - a Review of Research 2000-2015

Wednesday, 13 July 2016: 17:00
Location: Hörsaal 42 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Miranda LEONTOWITSCH, Goethe Universität Frankfurt am Main, Germany
Insa FOOKEN, Goethe Universität Frankfurt am Main, Germany
Rafaela WERNY, Goethe Universität Frankfurt am Main, Germany
Frank OSWALD, Goethe Universität Frankfurt am Main, Germany
Research on the lives of ageing men has undergone something of a renaissance in the past fifteen years. This has not only let the field of research grow rapidly but it has also meant taking on new approaches and new themes, including opening up a broader understanding of bereavement, caring, grandfatherhood, sport, sexuality, health, retirement and social networks among other roles and activities that are central to older people’s lives in contemporary societies. The vast majority of these studies are qualitative, which allows us to understand the personal experiences of older men at the same time as viewing these within the changed parameters of later life. However, the role of masculinities in how older men make sense of their later life and how their sense of masculinity may have changed over the life course is not a consistent theme within the field of ageing men research. This may be due to an ongoing resistance within gerontology to acknowledge the role of gender, as well as an echo of a 20th century men’s studies tradition of viewing masculinity as a topic of youth and fatherhood. This paper will present the central themes that have been developed from a review of literature on ageing men and masculinity from 2000 to 2015. The analysis will show that viewing the lives of older men through a traditional or dominant lens of masculinity does not help to understand what older men do or not do, or why and how they do it. Instead it appears that shifts to masculinities however nuanced are important to recognize if we are to gain a better understanding of older men’s lives. What is still missing are biographical approaches to mapping changes to masculinities across the life course as well as the respective historical context in which they took place.