Continuity and discontinuity: The case of second couplehood in old age

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Abstract

Purpose:Continuity and discontinuity are controversial concepts in social theories on aging. The aim of this article is to explore these concepts using the experiences of older persons living in second couplehood in old age as a case in point.Design and Method:Based on a larger qualitative study on second couplehood in old age, following the existential-phenomenological tradition, a theoretical sample of 20 couples was chosen. Forty individual semi-structured interviews were conducted, tape-recorded, and transcribed verbatim.Results:A continuity-discontinuity continuum and a value-attribution pole emerged from data analysis. Continuity was experienced as the exception and discontinuity as the rule.Implications:Findings are discussed in light of social theories on aging, raising questions regarding the role of continuity and discontinuity in old age development. Practical implications are suggested.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)687-698
Number of pages12
JournalThe Gerontologist
Volume51
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2011

Keywords

  • Continuity and discontinuity
  • Human development
  • Life-long marital relationships
  • Normative aging
  • Old age
  • Qualitative research
  • Second couplehood
  • Social gerontology theories

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Gerontology

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