Accesso libero

Healthy and Somewhat Wealthy: The Lived Experience of Successful Aging



The idea of being active, healthy, happy and independent as long as is possible is strongly promoted in public discourse and in aging policies. Starting from the idea of investigating the serious leisure practices of the elderly, I sought to develop a qualitative research that captures perceptions and normative attitudes regarding the perceived and lived experience of aging. The study offers insights into the socially constructed nature of successful aging, by critically exploring the relation between the practice of Tai-Chi, considered a serious leisure activity among older adults, and the neoliberal ideology. During my fieldwork I conducted 14 in-depth semi-structured interviews and I have analyzed a specific typology of subjects - ‘healthy and somewhat wealthy’ as one of the respondents described himself - motivated by the fact that this category of the elderly is much more likely to internalize and promote neoliberal ideology. The goal of my fieldwork research was to determine how seniors operationalize the concept of successful aging and what strategies they use in order to ensure their experience matches their expectations. I also chose to focus on the way elders embrace a serious leisure perspective, which promises to give them a sense of purpose and progress. As shown by the accounts of the participants in the study, the need to be active, independent, healthy, and cheerful determine individuals to work with their own self and seek to engage in serious leisure activities.