Angelika Gabauer


Spaces of Age(ing): Towards an Understanding of Being and Growing Old in an Urban Environment

Photo © L.Sanchez    

The topic of age has received growing attention in recent decades; not only in terms of the absolute number of old and very old people and their relative population share, but also with regard to its dominance in political, media and scientific debates. Consequently, city governments and professionals in planning, architecture and urban design are increasingly confronted with questions of how to create and provide urban environments that meet these ongoing demographical changes. The overall aim of this doctoral project is to contribute to the conceptual debates around ‘ageing societies’ with a specific focus on ‘the old subject’ in the context of an urban environment. It aims at unraveling the role and meaning of spaces and spatial arrangements of constituting old persons. The envisaged research seeks to scrutinize the interplay of age(ing), space and subjectivity. Therefore, the guiding research questions are: What are urban spaces of age(ing)? How are age and oldness discursively and spatially constituted? Which role do spaces play and which effects do they have within the complex processes of subject formation? This includes the questions of how to frame old(ness), and also: What does it mean to be old and grow old under current patterns of urban development and urbanization? This also requires a theoretical clarification of how to perceive space in general, and urban space in particular, and a theoretical investigation of the complex process of subject formation that involves both, subjection and subjectivation. The research project empirically focuses on the city of Vienna, and consists of 1) a qualitative field research employing qualitative interviews and ethnographic research with old and very old persons in Vienna, and 2) a policy analysis employing qualitative content analysis of policy papers, documents and expert interviews with relevant governmental, political and civil society actors.

Betreuung   Prof. Dr. phil. DI (FH) Sabine Knierbein (TU Wien, Österreich)