Everything old is new again: a social and cultural history of life on the retirement frontier, 1950-2000 Public Deposited

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Last Modified
  • March 21, 2019
Creator
  • Otis, Katherine Ann
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of History
Abstract
  • Everything Old is New Again explores the history of aging in mid-to-late twentieth century America through the lens of retirement life in Florida, a state long synonymous with shuffleboard and park benches. Such images present a stereotypical view of old age as boring and staid. Nothing could be further from the truth. Seniors were engaged in a social, cultural, and political transformation of later life. The mass retirement of older people from the work force, combined with the creation of countless governmental programs as well as commercial projects designed specifically for the elderly, segregated growing numbers of seniors from the larger society and stimulated the development of an age-based group-consciousness and culture. The evolution of this dynamic new peer group and the day-to-day experiences of its diverse membership – particularly among those who settled in Florida - is the subject of this dissertation. The manuscript is divided into two thematic sections that draw on a wealth of sources including retirement literature and advice books, letters and oral histories, gerontological and sociological works, government reports and demographic data, sexual studies and surveys, institutional newsletters and meeting minutes, newspapers and magazines, advertisements, films, and photographs. Part one, My Grandparents' World: The Construction of a Senior Culture, documents the promises and pitfalls of post-war retirement through a examination of daily life among senior migrants to Florida. It considers the ways in which retirement communities spurred the development of a unique subculture among older adults and helped to support senior activism when the realities of retirement left growing numbers of elders stripped of their savings, in poor health, and unable to afford basic necessities such as safe and comfortable housing, prescription drugs, and long-term care. Part two, Waltzing with Nonno: Older Americans Negotiate New Family and Community Roles, explores the changing nature of older Americans' interpersonal relationships. Retirement and migration, the economic and health challenges which often accompanied old age, the increasing segregation of older people from the wider community, and changing inter-generational expectations all affected retirees' relationships with one another, their families, and their communities.
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  • In Copyright
Advisor
  • Hall, Jacquelyn Dowd
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  • Open access
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