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Controlling active ageing: a study of social imaginaries of older people in Chile

Meersohn Schmidt, Cynthia; Yang, Keming

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Cynthia Meersohn Schmidt


Cynthia Meersohn


A key issue in understanding the social lives of older people is how active they are in coping with the demands of ageing. Often the ‘successfulness’ of ageing is measured with medical and biological criteria. While the notion of ‘active ageing’ is more appealing and neutral, its meaning is often obscured, fragmented or inconsistent. Our aims in this study were to establish ‘active ageing’ as a process in which older people try to take control of their lives by conforming to or resisting different social imaginaries of later life, and to explore individuals’ strategies for making the best use of available resources and fending off potential risks of social exclusion. We adopted a two-stage research design. First, we produced artistic images that corresponded to social imaginaries of tensions in ageing in three social domains (politics, mass media and older people). Then, we used these images as stimuli in interviews with a balanced sample of 32 middle-aged and older residents of Santiago, Chile, to discover their strategies for coping with these tensions. Although imaginaries of ageing tended to describe ageing in terms of restrictions and stereotypes, we found diverse and increasingly flexible life projects and expectations of activity in later life.


Meersohn Schmidt, C., & Yang, K. (2020). Controlling active ageing: a study of social imaginaries of older people in Chile. Ageing & Society, 40(7), 1428-1454.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Nov 22, 2018
Online Publication Date Mar 1, 2019
Publication Date Jul 1, 2020
Deposit Date Jan 17, 2019
Publicly Available Date Jan 18, 2019
Journal Ageing and Society
Print ISSN 0144-686X
Electronic ISSN 1469-1779
Publisher Cambridge University Press
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 40
Issue 7
Pages 1428-1454


Accepted Journal Article (1.2 Mb)

Copyright Statement
This article has been accepted for publication in a revised form in Ageing & society This version is free to view and download for private research and study only. Not for re-distribution, re-sale or use in derivative works. © cCambridge University Press 2019

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