Becoming who you are. Aging, self-realization and cultural narratives about later life



In her dissertation, Becoming who you are. Aging, self-realization and cultural narratives about life, Hanne Laceulle addresses how dominant cultural narratives about aging and later life tend to identify aging with inevitable decline, whereas aging well is equated with staying young for as long as possible. Problematically, however, both decline- and age-defying cultural narratives about aging fall short of acknowledging the positive potentials of later life. Moreover, these dominant cultural narratives cannot provide us with the necessary resources to integrate confrontations with existential vulnerability in our lives in a meaningful way. Drawing on the rich philosophical tradition of thought about self-realization, critically exploring the value of constitutive ethical concepts like autonomy, authenticity and virtue for the context of aging well, this book suggests contours for alternative cultural counter narratives about later life. Through these counter narratives, older individuals are supported in the search for a meaningful age identity, whereas society is evoked to recognize its older members as moral agents of their own lives, and stimulated to include them as valued participants.
... De Wetenschappelijke Raad voor het Regeringsbeleid heeft in 2006 wel een studie uitgebracht getiteld Geloven in het publieke domein (Van deDonk et al. 2006) waarin ook (op basis van eenmalig onderzoek) een hoofdstuk over leefstijlen en zingeving is opgenomen(Kronjee en Lampert 2006). Aan de Universiteit voor Humanistiek wordt de laatste jaren bovendien onderzoek verricht naar zingeving bij ouderen in het bijzonder(Derkx et al. 2019;Laceulle 2016) en Fokke Obbema heeft een mooie reeks interviews voor de Volkskrant geschreven over zingeving die recent ook in boekvorm zijn uitgebracht(Obbema 2019). Systematisch, herhaald en kwantitatief onderzoek naar zingeving in Nederland ontbreekt echter. ...
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Religie in een pluriforme samenleving Diversiteit en verandering in beeld Deel 3: Buiten kerk en moskee Nederland is geen gelovig land meer. Atheïsten en agnosten vormen inmiddels een meerderheid onder de bevolking. Religieuze groepen zijn nu minderheden in Nederland. Daarmee is voor de meeste mensen de zoektocht naar zingeving en zelfverwezenlijking een individuele zaak. Deze maatschappelijke ontwikkelingen hebben niet alleen gevolgen voor individuen, maar ook voor de verhoudingen tussen verschillende groepen, en onze samenleving als geheel. Dat blijkt uit het onderzoek Buiten kerk en moskee van het Sociaal en Cultureel Planbureau (SCP).
... […] People are 'connected' 24/7 but they feel isolated and unhappy" (Gordon-Lennox, 2017b, p. 12-13). This underlines an aspect of globalisation which has the potential to increase connection between people, but could also lead to the dissolution of social bonds (Laceulle, 2016). ...
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Although the world we live in is changing, few qualitative studies have been done of its effects on the transition into adulthood for young people, also called emerging adults. Nor is there much insight in how emerging adults cope with its effects. The aim of the present study therefore was to explore the experience of emerging adults with existential anxiety, together with their ritualized acting, when transitioning into adulthood against the backdrop of a changing world. Interviews with ten respondents aged 20-29 were analysed via qualitative content analysis. ‘To suffer and celebrate’ emerged as a common theme and represents both the sometimes distressing experience of existential anxiety and the ritualized acting as way of coping, or celebrating, during the transition into adulthood. The theme contains the most prominent existential anxiety concerns, such as Performance Anxiety, Loneliness, Disruption of Grasp, General Anxiety and Lack of Validation, as well as examples of ritualized acting via three components: Intentions, Activity and Outcome. The findings show that the ritualized acting of the respondents has the potential to reduce anxiety, give a sense of control and enhance feelings of meaning. It is further discovered that the respondents are open to ritualizing to help mark, transition into or celebrate adulthood. The respondents’ suggestion that the concept of the 21 dinner can be an effective celebration is discussed, but not before the seriousness of experiencing existential anxiety is emphasized. Further research is suggested, such as an innovative approach to develop and evaluate ritual designs for the emerging adult, to help them cope with suffering and celebrating their transition into adulthood.
Old age can be considered a radicalization of the human condition. In this phase of life, its fundamental relationality is experienced in its extremes; in its dependency and loneliness as well as in the intensification of personal relationships of love and friendship. In dominant discourses of modernity, relationality competes with – or is at the most additional to – autonomy, understood as individual independence. By contrast, this chapter develops a responsive understanding of human life which comprises both individual agency and dependency in their dynamic interplay.
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