Advanced

Åldrandet och språket : en språkhistorisk analys av hög ålder och åldrande i Sverige cirka 1875–1975

Rosengren, Anna LU (2011) In Studia Historica Lundensia 16.
Abstract (Swedish)
Popular Abstract in Swedish

Vad är åldrande? När började man över huvud taget tala om ”åldrande”? När fick ordet ”pensionär” den betydelse vi är vana vid idag?

I Åldrandet och språket studeras ord och uttryck för att ringa in vad man har menat med hög ålder och åldrande i Sverige under hundraårsperioden mellan 1875 och 1975. Frågor kring hög ålder och åldrande har stor aktualitet idag. I Sverige och Europa talar politiker om ökade kostnader för äldrevården och om behovet av att höja pensionsåldern i takt med att medellivslängden stiger. I avhandlingen ges en historisk bakgrund till dessa frågor – en diskussion om höjd pensionsålder fördes till exempel för mer än femtio år sedan.

I de tre källmaterialen –... (More)
Popular Abstract in Swedish

Vad är åldrande? När började man över huvud taget tala om ”åldrande”? När fick ordet ”pensionär” den betydelse vi är vana vid idag?

I Åldrandet och språket studeras ord och uttryck för att ringa in vad man har menat med hög ålder och åldrande i Sverige under hundraårsperioden mellan 1875 och 1975. Frågor kring hög ålder och åldrande har stor aktualitet idag. I Sverige och Europa talar politiker om ökade kostnader för äldrevården och om behovet av att höja pensionsåldern i takt med att medellivslängden stiger. I avhandlingen ges en historisk bakgrund till dessa frågor – en diskussion om höjd pensionsålder fördes till exempel för mer än femtio år sedan.

I de tre källmaterialen – födelsedagsnotiser, ansökningshandlingar till privata ålderdomshem samt statliga förslag och utredningar – har åldrandet inte haft någon distinkt och oföränderlig kärna. Medicinska perspektiv som vanligen förknippas med åldrande hade länge en undanskymd plats. I stället har idéer och händelser i det omgivande samhället påverkat hur åldrandet manifesterades i en pendelrörelse mellan kropp och kronologi. Avhandlingen visar hur förståelsen av åldrandet sett olika ut beroende på tidpunkt, person och situation. (Less)
Abstract
This thesis analyses how old age and ageing were manifested and understood in Sweden from approximately 1875 to 1975. It thus aims to provide historical background to current debate about for instance the retirement age and how to best care for the elderly.

Encyclopaedia entries from both the beginning and the end of this period describe ageing as a medical process of physical decline. Since much current research also uses such a medical perspective on ageing, it is tempting to conclude that ageing always was (and is) seen as a medico-biological phenomenon of physical decline. But has this medical perspective always dominated? The three sources studied in this thesis show that this was not always the case. The sources were... (More)
This thesis analyses how old age and ageing were manifested and understood in Sweden from approximately 1875 to 1975. It thus aims to provide historical background to current debate about for instance the retirement age and how to best care for the elderly.

Encyclopaedia entries from both the beginning and the end of this period describe ageing as a medical process of physical decline. Since much current research also uses such a medical perspective on ageing, it is tempting to conclude that ageing always was (and is) seen as a medico-biological phenomenon of physical decline. But has this medical perspective always dominated? The three sources studied in this thesis show that this was not always the case. The sources were birthday notices for women and men aged sixty or more, application letters to private old-age homes and, lastly, legislative material related to reforms for elderly people.

Rather than establishing certain a priori criteria before conducting the empirical analyses – methods often used in previous historical research – I approached old age and ageing indirectly by examining related expressions. The theoretical perspective of the thesis builds on the work of, among others, German historian Reinhart Koselleck and British historian Quentin Skinner. The approach relies on the assumption of a mutual relationship between language and reality, and on the agency of individuals. I call this perspective “linguistic-historical research” (“språkhistorisk forskning”) to underline its reliance on both language and historical context.

The analyses show that old age and ageing tended to be linked to the body and to chronology, alternating and combining the two, with no apparent evolution in a specific direction. By contrast, it is possible to discern a trend from societal to more individual manifestations of old age and ageing. Furthermore, the sources more than once exhibit a correspondence between the manifestations of old age and ageing, and contemporary ideas and events. This thesis therefore suggests that old age and ageing have not had a single well-defined essence at any point in time. Rather, their understanding and manifestations have changed with time, situation and person.

Returning to my initial question, the thesis shows that medical perspectives on ageing were clearly distinguishable only towards the 1950s. Finally, the sources shed light on two common hypotheses: that women were perceived to age earlier than men, and that retirement could be seen as a form of “social ageing”. The three sources do not support either hypothesis. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
opponent
  • Docent Jönson, Håkan, Lunds universitet
organization
publishing date
type
Thesis
publication status
published
subject
keywords
Ageing, cultural ageing, elderly, history of concepts, conceptual history, life-writing, auto/biography, retirement, elderly care, welfare studies, Sweden, 19th century, 20th century.
in
Studia Historica Lundensia
volume
16
pages
234 pages
publisher
Södertörns högskola
defense location
Sal MB416, Södertörns högskola, Alfred Nobels allé 7, Huddinge
defense date
2011-12-16 10:00
ISSN
1652-7399
ISBN
978-91-86069-36-0
language
Swedish
LU publication?
yes
id
c263cb63-5fc3-4c3f-bd10-3586997ac3f3 (old id 2203885)
date added to LUP
2011-11-14 15:59:53
date last changed
2016-09-19 08:44:45
@phdthesis{c263cb63-5fc3-4c3f-bd10-3586997ac3f3,
  abstract     = {This thesis analyses how old age and ageing were manifested and understood in Sweden from approximately 1875 to 1975. It thus aims to provide historical background to current debate about for instance the retirement age and how to best care for the elderly.<br/><br>
 Encyclopaedia entries from both the beginning and the end of this period describe ageing as a medical process of physical decline. Since much current research also uses such a medical perspective on ageing, it is tempting to conclude that ageing always was (and is) seen as a medico-biological phenomenon of physical decline. But has this medical perspective always dominated? The three sources studied in this thesis show that this was not always the case. The sources were birthday notices for women and men aged sixty or more, application letters to private old-age homes and, lastly, legislative material related to reforms for elderly people.<br/><br>
 Rather than establishing certain a priori criteria before conducting the empirical analyses – methods often used in previous historical research – I approached old age and ageing indirectly by examining related expressions. The theoretical perspective of the thesis builds on the work of, among others, German historian Reinhart Koselleck and British historian Quentin Skinner. The approach relies on the assumption of a mutual relationship between language and reality, and on the agency of individuals. I call this perspective “linguistic-historical research” (“språkhistorisk forskning”) to underline its reliance on both language and historical context.<br/><br>
 The analyses show that old age and ageing tended to be linked to the body and to chronology, alternating and combining the two, with no apparent evolution in a specific direction. By contrast, it is possible to discern a trend from societal to more individual manifestations of old age and ageing. Furthermore, the sources more than once exhibit a correspondence between the manifestations of old age and ageing, and contemporary ideas and events. This thesis therefore suggests that old age and ageing have not had a single well-defined essence at any point in time. Rather, their understanding and manifestations have changed with time, situation and person. <br/><br>
 Returning to my initial question, the thesis shows that medical perspectives on ageing were clearly distinguishable only towards the 1950s. Finally, the sources shed light on two common hypotheses: that women were perceived to age earlier than men, and that retirement could be seen as a form of “social ageing”. The three sources do not support either hypothesis.},
  author       = {Rosengren, Anna},
  isbn         = {978-91-86069-36-0},
  issn         = {1652-7399},
  keyword      = {Ageing,cultural ageing,elderly,history of concepts,conceptual history,life-writing,auto/biography,retirement,elderly care,welfare studies,Sweden,19th century,20th century.},
  language     = {swe},
  pages        = {234},
  publisher    = {Södertörns högskola},
  school       = {Lund University},
  series       = {Studia Historica Lundensia},
  title        = {Åldrandet och språket : en språkhistorisk analys av hög ålder och åldrande i Sverige cirka 1875–1975},
  volume       = {16},
  year         = {2011},
}