Voluntarism in rural ageing: new spaces of care and stewardship

Authors: Sophie Yarker*,
Topics: Social Geography, Rural Geography
Keywords: Rural, Ageing, Volunteering, care, stewardship
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/11/2018
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Napoleon A3, Sheraton, 3rd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

This paper will explore the concept of stewardship through the formal and informal voluntary activities of older people in rural communities. In the literature on ageing, contributing to local civil society through volunteering is regarded as having the potential to enhance feelings of wellbeing, social connections and purpose for those in later life (Casiday et al., 2008; Li & Ferraro, 2006; Tabassum et al., 20016). Volunteering has also become a central part of state-driven active-, or successful-ageing agendas within many developed economies. As well as recognising the embodied and emotional experience of volunteering for the individual (Smith et al., 2010; Conradson, 2003; Jupp, 2008) this paper considers the wider contribution of older volunteers to rural communities and organisations. Practices of wildlife conservation, the sharing of knowledge about rural environments with younger generations, and the building of a sense of community through social enterprise all evidence the emergence of new spaces of care in rural civil society (Skinner & Joseph, 2007), and are used in this paper to identify older volunteers as stewards of place. It argues that stewardship - conceptualised through the domains of knowledge, care, and agency (Andersson et al., 2017) - are rooted in volunteer’s practices of care for place and local quality of life, and concludes by calling for a social-ecological framework of stewardship.

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