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Introduction: Special Issue on Ageing, Biography and Practice

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  09 November 2018

Jan-Erik Ruth
Department of Social Policy, 00014 University of Helsinki, Finland
Gary M. Kenyon
Gerontology Programme, St Thomas University, Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada E3B 5G3


The experiences of maturing and ageing constitute a rather unexplored field within Gerontology. The ‘inner’ aspects of ageing have been left relatively untouched by researchers, largely out of methodological considerations. The ‘outer’ aspect of ageing, or ageing defined as behaviour, has been considered more fruitful due to its consistency with criteria for science created by logical positivism. Psychogerontologists in particular have been mesmerized by this research paradigm. However, this trend has also, for some time now, been criticized for underestimating the perceptions of the reality upon which we form our reasons for action (Runyan 1982; Carr 1986). Further, there are exceptions to this main stream of research. For example, the German psychogerontologist Thomae created a theory of ageing in 1970 based on the perceptual, evaluative and meaning – giving processes within the individual (Thomae 1970). In a series of studies (The BOLSA studies), he has been able to lend support to most of his theoretical claims (see Kruse and Schmitz-Schertzer 1995). Also the Canadian gerontologists Reker and Wong (1988) belong to the group of pioneers advocating the importance of personal meaning in successful ageing.

Research Article
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1996

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