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An unequal world: Class, leisure and health outcomes in older people

An unequal world: Class, leisure and health outcomes in older people

McGovern, Pauline (2014) An unequal world: Class, leisure and health outcomes in older people. In: International Sociology Association Third Forum of Sociology, RC13RC28: Leisure and the Reproduction of Inequality, 13-19 July 2014, Yokohama, Japan. (Unpublished)

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In this presentation, we look beyond the direct physical and social effects of leisure activities on health and wellbeing. Instead, we explore the effect of leisure on the health of older people within the context of social class and structural inequalities.

Occupational class, as a proxy for social class, may be less theoretically robust in defining stratification and life chances once people retire. In Bourdieusian terms, it is reasonable to suppose that the secondary properties (lifestyle) linked to occupational class may be more important in determining the life chances of people post-retirement, than the specific occupational capitals that marked their social position during working life. In retirement, people may maintain their former lifestyles (tastes and leisure activities) but may also develop new activities that are linked to their material circumstances, social connections and skills. In this way, the leisure activities of older people may be central to their ‘space of possibilities’ for a happy and healthy retirement.
This presentation outlines the results from a longitudinal path analysis of the relationships between social class, wealth, leisure activities and health status, conceptualised within a Bourdieusian framework. This study used panel data from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (2002-2010) with variables lagged at different time points to maintain temporal/causal order. The findings show that the main effect of occupational class on health for these older respondents was indirect, via economic assets, cultural and social activities and perceived social status.

In terms of the role of leisure in promoting healthy ageing, the strongest effect from cultural and social activities was via perceived social status. It seems that activities such as museum-going and attending the theatre may make older people feel better about themselves and, as a result, be good for their health.

Item Type: Conference or Conference Paper (Paper)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Bourdieu, Capitals, Path analysis, Subjective social status
Faculty / School / Research Centre / Research Group: Faculty of Business > Department of International Business & Economics
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Last Modified: 14 Oct 2016 09:36

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