The Social Construction of Ageing Masculinities in Neoliberal Society – Reflections on Retired German Men

Bühring, Lisa-Nike (2020) The Social Construction of Ageing Masculinities in Neoliberal Society – Reflections on Retired German Men. PhD thesis, University of Gloucestershire. doi:10.46289/MEDA0012

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Low fertility rates, advances in medicine and improved living standards have dramatically altered the worldwide demographic landscape of age and ageing. The world’s population is growing older, and as a result of this demographic trend, scholarly research in a variety of academic disciplines in the West have turned their focus towards socio-cultural understandings of old age. Research-based in cultural gerontology suggests that within the context of western neoliberal societies perceptions of older age mainly unfold within two hegemonic narratives, namely ageing as related to decline, frailty and dependency and successful ageing characterised by youthfulness, productivity and continued personal autonomy. Since recent multi-disciplinary approaches to age presume that western views of ageing are shaped by the socio-cultural environment and its hegemonic narratives, the role media play in the dissemination and preservation of these hegemonic narratives has been an important site of investigation, particularly in relation to the portrayal of older women. However, the media depiction of older males and related cultural narratives and how older men experience these narratives within a cultural environment other than the U.S. have received less academic attention. Paradoxically, whilst the representation of older male ageing is strikingly less in the focus of scholarly debate than female ageing, the action film genre has recently brought older male characters into focus through the revival of tough-guy action films featuring older male protagonists. This thesis analyses three ‘geri-action films’, The Expendables, The Expendables 2 and The Expendables 3, in order to explore current representational contextualisations of masculine ageing within the hegemonic socio-cultural constructions of successful ageing and ageing as decline. In so doing, it furthers an understanding of the dominant socio-cultural frames of reference which influence older men’s constructions of older male identities. Subsequently, this thesis explores the ways that ageing impacts on the later lives of men who would have been judged during their working lives to fulfil the criteria of hegemonic masculinity in that they are heterosexual, white and were, before retirement, in white-collar, affluent, middle- and upper-managerial positions. The in-depth semi-structured interviews with four retired German men offered genuine and novel views of older German men’s inner worlds in relation to the specificities of their life-course narratives and self-perceptions within the socio-cultural and theoretical contexts of ageing and masculinity. Through qualitative research underpinned by theoretical and conceptual understandings of media, ageing and representation, cultural gerontology and masculinity studies, this thesis offers a critical analysis of previously unheard narratives about ageing and masculinity.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Thesis Advisors:
Thesis AdvisorEmailURL
Uncontrolled Keywords: Older males; Media depiction; Older male identities; German men
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN1990 Broadcasting
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN1992-1992.92 Television Broadcasts
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN1993 Motion Pictures
Divisions: Schools and Research Institutes > School of Creative Arts
Depositing User: Susan Turner
Date Deposited: 18 May 2021 14:10
Last Modified: 08 Aug 2023 19:55

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