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Title: Are country towns and villages sustainable environments for older people?
Authors: Brooks, Elizabeth
Issue Date: 2011
Publisher: Newcastle University
Abstract: This thesis asks the question of whether country towns and villages are sustainable environments for older people, through three case studies in the rural North East of England. The Introduction lays out the theoretical approaches of the study, in particular the 'critical human ecology‘ approach, within which is slotted the study‘s own proposed theory of ageing as a distinctive stage in the life-course characterised by strong temporal dynamics. The third chapter reviews research on rural ageing. The fourth chapter reviews the various national policies that impact on ageing in rural places. These introductory chapters result in three sub-questions about the physical, social and policy impacts on older people in rural places. The Methodology chapter describes the qualitative approach to data gathering that includes unstructured interviews, observational place audit and policy content analysis. Within findings that broadly confirm the literature on rural ageing in identifying a range of physical barriers and mixed social impacts, the study proposes understanding rural ageing in line with its own elaboration of 'critical human ecology‘. A series of interwoven environmental layers are posited that interact with people in later life, centring around two dynamics: a cohort/period dynamic and a transition/duration dynamic. As a study that is part central government-funded, the policy layer is of particular importance to this study‘s analysis. At this level several important trends are identified: grant revenue focused on urban places; spatial policy focused on 'city-regions‘ with notions of the rural economy centred on tourism and attracting and retaining younger age groups; while problems raised by spatial remoteness are to be solved largely through interventions such as broadband internet and 'assistive technology‘. The study concludes by counterposing such trends with rural elders‘ considerable community contributions and proposes a perspective within which greater recognition is accorded, and support provided, to elders‘ rural stewardship.
Description: PhD Thesis
Appears in Collections:School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape

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