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ERIC Number: EJ989621
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2012-Oct
Pages: 9
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
ISBN: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-0743-0167
Voluntarism as a Mediator of the Experience of Growing Old in Evolving Rural Spaces and Changing Rural Places
Joseph, Alun E.; Skinner, Mark W.
Journal of Rural Studies, v28 n4 p380-388 Oct 2012
This paper examines voluntarism as a response to the challenges faced by people growing old in rural communities that are themselves being transformed in fundamental ways, both socially and demographically. Informed by evolving theorisations within the rural aging and geographies of voluntarism literatures, we outline the key processes in space and consequent impacts in place that have affected the experience of growing old in rural communities. We identify the changes in service systems that have led to concerns about "vulnerable people in vulnerable places" and explore this idea in regional contexts ranging from the agricultural heartland to the resource hinterland of Canada. We argue that a distinction needs to be made between the impacts of long and short cycles of change flowing across rural space and attention paid to voluntarism as a critical process at the intersection of broad shifts in service and settlement systems and particular changes in rural communities. Specifically, we suggest that the "local dynamics of voluntarism" involving the activities of voluntary organisations, community groups and individual volunteers in particular communities can be understood, at once, as a "barometer of change", a "mechanism of adjustment" and a "space of resistance", and we draw on recent case studies of rural voluntarism to illustrate this three-part distinction. In considering the transformative potential of voluntarism for the experience of aging in place, our findings suggest that public discourse, as reflected in media coverage, tends to romanticise voluntarism at the expense of a more nuanced and critical appreciation of its importance to the future of aging rural communities and their elderly residents. The research raises timely questions about academic-versus-popular conceptions of aging in evolving rural spaces and changing rural places. (Contains 1 figure.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Canada