Geography Geographies of Age
Peter Hopkins, Anna Tarrant
  • LAST REVIEWED: 26 February 2013
  • LAST MODIFIED: 26 February 2013
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199874002-0058


Attention to the geographies of age is becoming increasingly important, given that large proportions of Western populations are aging. Qualitative approaches to aging in geography, which examine it as a socially constructed element of identity, have emerged only since the mid-1990s or so and are relatively new. While this bibliography is titled “Geographies of Age,” research in this area is incredibly interdisciplinary in character. Consequently, articles, books, and book chapters from a range of disciplines that have relevance to the spatial and environmental facets of aging are discussed.

General Overviews

Despite the volume of research and publications that focus on geographies of age, there are surprisingly few contributions that reflect upon the field as a whole, because most tend to focus on specific age groups such as children, young people, or older people. A useful overview of trends about aging is offered in Harper 2006, although this book is generally about older people and aging populations and offers few reflections on the experiences of younger people. Laz 1998 makes a useful contribution in emphasizing the social dimensions of age and in setting up its connections with other forms of social identity and difference. Of the few contributions that have focused generally upon geographies of age, Hopkins and Pain 2007 advances a relational approach, arguing that it is important to explore the relations within and between different generations rather than looking only at specific age groups on their own (see also Pain and Hopkins 2010).

  • Harper, Sarah. Ageing Societies: Myths, Challenges and Opportunities. London: Hodder Arnold, 2006.

    Rather than focusing solely on the challenges, complications, and burdens of aging societies (both in the Global North and South), this book draws attention to the realities and opportunities that aging populations present for social change. It includes discussion about theoretical approaches to age, age discrimination, and population change, as well as family, work, and health.

  • Hopkins, Peter, and Rachel Pain. “Geographies of Age: Thinking Relationally.” Area 39.3 (September 2007): 287–294.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-4762.2007.00750.x

    The agenda for this article is to encourage a more critical approach to the geographies of age, by focusing on the relationalities between different age groups. Three useful concepts are proposed: lifecourse, intergenerationality, and intersectionality. In bringing these concepts into geographies of age, this article proposes that a more critical and relational understanding of age and place will emerge.

  • Laz, Cheryl. “Act Your Age.” Sociological Forum 13.1 (1998): 85–113.

    DOI: 10.1023/A:1022160015408

    This article outlines a strong theoretical argument that age is more than chronological; it is socially constructed and is an accomplished and performed facet of identity. Complementing current theorizing in human geography, the article argues that age aids in understanding human agency and the ability for individuals to interpret, manage, and alter social structures through the enactments of age identities. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

  • Pain, Rachel, and Peter Hopkins. “Social Geographies of Age and Ageism.” In The SAGE Handbook of Social Geographies. Edited by Susan J. Smith, Rachel Pain, Sallie A. Marston, and John Paul Jones III, 78–98. Los Angeles and London: SAGE, 2010.

    An extended version of Hopkins and Pain 2007, this chapter expands relational thinking about age and place by exploring different frameworks and approaches useful for understanding landscapes of age. The social construction of age, the place of the body, and the role of agency, competency, and resistance are considered. Observations about researching geographies of age are offered by way of conclusion.

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