From Users to Adherents Anti-Aging As a Way of Life. Qualitative Interviews and Biographical Perspectives

Wednesday, July 16, 2014: 8:54 AM
Room: Booth 52
Oral Presentation
Larissa PFALLER , Institut for Sociology, University of Erlangen - FAU, Erlangen, Germany
At least since the founding of the A4M (American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine) in 1993, anti-aging medicine has formed a discrete discipline, implementing scientific findings for purposes of prevention, early diagnosis, reversal or treatment of age-related changes and loss of body functions. In recent years, anti-aging has also been established in Europe, as the institutionalization of anti-aging medicine in Germany shows in an exemplary way.

Despite the growing significance of anti-aging, its impact on the users’ everyday life has hitherto been under-explored. This presentation focusses on users of anti-aging products and services in Germany and is based on 15 narrative interviews conducted in the context of the research project “Biomedical life plans for aging”.

The interviews show the profound impact of anti-aging on the individuals’ biographies: Although users cannot observe the effectiveness of their practices, they are invested with biographical meaning. Therefore, it is supposed that the persistence and attractiveness of anti-aging practices goes far beyond their scientific persuasiveness. Within the reconstruction of the significance of anti-aging for the interviewees‘ biographies, the symbolic and emotional potential of the practices are to be examined: Anti-aging turns out to be an ideal staging ground for presenting oneself as a rational actor and a self-caring subject. Anti-aging can thus be described as a form of lifestyle that is committed to an ideal of scientific rationality and the moral values of individuality and responsibility.