9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN01 Ageing in Europe

2009-09-04 13:30:00 2009-09-04 15:00:00 Friday, 4 September 13:30 - 15:00 Images of Ageing Building II, C5.07

Emergence of romantic relationships in old age

Different aspects in the life of older people are changing rapidly. These changes are reflected in popular media and new identities of old age are constructed through media. In this paper we are interested in how romantic relationships of older people are dealt with in the most popular general-interest magazine for people over 50 years of age in Finland. The data comprised the volumes 2006-2008, (54 magazines, 69 articles).

The analysis focused on the following questions by using discursive reading: In what way is written about lifelong marriages, sex, divorces, re-marriages, cohabitation, widowhood and single life in old age? Are there differences on how long marriages or new relationships and cohabitation are valued? How are widowhood and single life seen in old age?

Our preliminary analysis revealed that a wide range of romantic and erotic life was represented in articles from secret love affairs to Internet dating. But the vast majority of articles were about heterosexual relationships, old ones or new bliss. The overall amount of articles about relationships increased each year. When there were articles about widowed or divorced people, mostly the focus was on finding a new partner. A few happy and content single persons were all female and mainly some sort of creative people. Although different kind of ways of life are possible and were dealt with seemingly objective way, having a relationship was constructed as a normative way of life in old age.