Empowering the elderly ‘whole person’: a cultural analysis of the relational practices within a municipal home-health visit

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A positive discourse about ‘healthy aging’ and ‘active aging’ shapes many health policies targeting the elderly. Rather than portraying old age as a life stage of passivity and decline, this discourse transforms late life into a period of physical activity and fulfilling social involvement – especially in terms of engagement with one’s family, friends, and ‘community’.
Based on ethnographic fieldwork conducted in a Danish municipality, the chapter examines how health-promotion activities targeted at the elderly function in practice, and discusses the various forms of ‘community’ that the municipality strives to cultivate among its older citizens. It also explores how certain positive paradigms of ‘healthy aging’ and ‘the good life’ have been constructed, and how they may be reproduced and reinforced within Danish public-health policies.
By analysing the actors, practices, and interactions that may constitute different collectives within the politically delineated geographic borders of the municipality, the chapter describes some of the social, cultural, and political practices that connect various forms of ‘community’, and how these practices may affect (and be affected by) elderly citizens’ civic engagement and continued participation in society.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAlter(n) als soziale und kulturelle Praxis. : Ordnungen – Beziehungen – Materialitäten
EditorsCordula Endter, Sabine Kienitz
Number of pages21
Place of PublicationBielefeld, Germany
PublisherTranscript Verlag
Publication dateMar 2017
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2017

Bibliographical note

Amy Clotworthy, M.A. in applied cultural analysis, is a Ph.D. Fellow at the Department of Ethnology, University of Copenhagen. Her current research project is investigating the various practices that may promote better health and engagement between actors within the context of specific programmes, activities, and health interventions targeted at elderly citizens in a Danish municipality. This project is associated with the Center for Healthy Aging (CEHA) at the University of Copenhagen.
With an academic background in the qualitative study of healthcare systems, medical education/training, and everyday practices of health, Amy is particularly interested in understanding how public-health policies, programmes, and initiatives affect (and are affected by) both healthcare professionals and the people they treat.

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