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This article explores conceptual and empirical aspects of the social exclusion/inclusion debate in later life, with a particular focus on issues of place and space in urban settings. Exploratory findings are reported from two empirical studies in Belgium and England, which sought to examine experiences of social exclusion and inclusion among people aged 60 and over living in deprived inner-city neighbourhoods. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with an ethnically diverse sample of 102 older people in Belgium and 124 in England. Thematic analysis of interview data identifies four issues in relation to the neighbourhood dimension of social exclusion/inclusion in later life: experiences of community change; feelings of security and safety; the management of urban space; and strategies of control. The results suggest that neighbourhoods have a significant influence on shaping the experience of exclusion and inclusion in later life, with a number of similarities identified across the different study areas. The article concludes by discussing conceptual and policy issues raised by the research.
This paper takes the quality of life in the neighbourhood as a starting point and appeals to the framework of Age-friendly Cities to gain insights in how ‘the neighbourhood as a physical surrounding’ can either promote or hinder feelings of unsafety in later life. It examines the impact of the perceived design of the neighbourhood on feelings of unsafety in later life. Literature on the relationship between feelings of unsafety and the neighbourhood mainly concentrates on incivilities and disorder. Other physical-spatial features of the neighbourhood are rarely taken into consideration. Using data generated from the Belgian Ageing Studies (N=25,980) multivariate analyses indicate that a neighbourhood which is perceived to be physically adapted to the needs of older people (in terms of accessibility and distance to services) heightens feelings of safety. The findings demonstrate the need to reduce behaviour constraints by redesigning fear-related physical features. This conclusion raises practical implications and formulates a number of policy recommendations to tackle feelings of unsafety in an ageing society.
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