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Ageing activists: who gets involved in older people's forums?



Based on research with members of two Senior Citizens Forums in the South East of England, this article examines the biographies and motivations of those who get involved in such activities, with particular emphasis on (a) how they see themselves in relation to ‘other older people’ and (b) their relationships with the places in which they live. We address these issues in relation to the characterisation of participants in such forums as the ‘usual suspects’ whose legitimacy to speak on behalf of others may be questioned, and by reference to a growing recognition of the significance of place in the lives of older people. Whilst the locations of the two Forums studied are geographically close, culturally they are quite distinct and we identify important differences in motivations, backgrounds and priorities of forum members in the two places that are associated with these differences. Our research confirms that place-based participation tends to engage those who are fitter and who have more social and cultural capital, but questions assumptions that this means they are spaces for the pursuit of self-interest.


Corresponding author

Address for correspondence: Marian Barnes, School of Applied Social Science, University of Brighton, Falmer, Brighton BN1 9PH, UK. E-mail:


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Ageing activists: who gets involved in older people's forums?



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