Conformity and resistance in older women´s life stories
Department of social work Umea university Umea, Sweden
The main obejctive of the presentation is to highlight aspects of conformity and resistance as described in older women's oral life stories. The life stories are part of an ongoing dissertation project, at the Department of social work, Umea university, Sweden. The data consists of ten women's life stories, aged 75 to 85, living in the rural countryside in the county of Vasterbotten in northern Sweden and the region of Ostrobothnia on the west coast of Finland. The meaning of old age cannot be separated from the rest of the course of a person's life, and by conducting life story interviews ageing as a process is emphasised. Life stories not only give us information about the individual, but also about cultural and societal conditions in two similar, but still different countries. Hence, the purpose of the presentation is to make visible women's diverse circumstances during life course, at both a structural and individual level, and how these are articulated through different strategies of adaptation and/or opposition.
The women taking part in the study are all born and raised in an agrarian community. During the women's life course the society has undergone many transformations. The Second World War, modernisation and the development of the welfare state are some of the changes that have taken place during their life course, as well as reassessment about women's work and family life. Despite many similarities between the two countries, there are also disparities that must be considered when trying to understand and interpret the life stories of these women. The national economical conditions after the Second World War were completely different, which has also influenced political and ideological attitudes and values about men's and women's responsibilities and positions. How such circumstances have shaped strategies of conformity and resistance used by women in different situations, concerning i.e education, work and relationships is therefore of interest to investigate.