Five eye-openers in my life of critical gerontology

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Stephen Katz

Abstract

This paper is a personal account of five “eye-opening” career experiences in the author’s life that illustrate how biographical events shape opportunities and inspire knowledge- making in critical gerontology. Borrowing from Pierre Bourdieu’s methodological concept of “fieldwork in philosophy,” this account suggests that critical thinking only becomes eaningful in the lived contexts in which it is grounded, negotiated, transformed, and shared. Thus theoretical ideas about ageing, despite their abstract nature, have historical and unpredictable stories of their own that are worthy of a “fieldwork” approach. The paper also emphasises that the “critical” in critical gerontology includes a strong reflexive and self-critical dimension about the subjective conditions of doing gerontological research, especially in the face of gerontology’s claim to be an objective science.

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