This project will increase our understanding of, and support for, the wellbeing, agency, and inclusion of older people living in the Nordic Arctic. It pays particular attention to members of diverse cultural minorities and to gender. The focus is on how older women and men experience their own wellbeing and agency in relation to their social welfare needs and entitlements. Specifically we examine how evolving Nordic welfare regimes affect the welfare experiences and wellbeing of diverse groups of Arctic elderly, and whether ageism plays a role in how services are perceived and delivered. The project seeks to promote ways in which older people can have their voices heard and can become active in their communities and in the maintenance of their rights. The methods follow from the purposes of the study. We will engage older women and men from diverse groups as participants in an exploration of their perceived needs whether these are met or unmet and how this relates to their agency and social inclusion. We will discuss what concerns need to be addressed and how. We will facilitate ongoing networking among stakeholders and older people in response to this new knowledge as it emerges. These stakeholders in older people’s welfare and wellbeing include those from local communities and multiple levels of governmental and non-governmental agencies within in the Nordic region. They will be in a position to use this networking and the findings of the study to develop innovative policies and educational initiatives.
Advancing Elderly People’s Agency and Inclusion in the Changing Arctic and Nordic Welfare System (AEPA-Wel)
Päivi Naskali, Professor, Unit of Gender Studies, University of Lapland, Finland.
Researcher & coordinator:
Shahnaj Begum, Unit of Gender Studies, University of Lapland, Finland.
Site of Research:
Unit of Gender Studies, Faculty of Education, University of Lapland
Duration of the Project:
3 Years (August-2016 – August-2019)
First workshop, January 2017 >
The project focuses on analyzing how older people themselves are heard while defining their welfare needs and human rights, how they are negotiated when planning the welfare services and whether the needs are met of unmet.
The concrete tasks for the project are:
I. To investigate the concepts of agency and inclusion of elderly people in relation to the transformation of the welfare state in the Arctic context:
The Nordic welfare states represent a value based model including a normative view of well-being. This has the potential to engender exclusion based on difference especially for traditional societies and minority groups living in remote northern areas, for instance the Sámi in Scandinavia, Tornedalens in Sweden and Kvens in Norway from whom the subjects in this research will be drawn.
We will examine the impact of normative concepts of well-being, in the context of changes in Nordic welfare states, on the daily lives and experiences of older members of minority groups.
II. To analyze the rights of elderly people in the Arctic specific Nordic context, with special reference to their right to physical and mental health:
A normative concept of well-being is linked to ageist stereotypes of older people and their rights and needs. Older people’s rights to services are included in many rights instruments including the United Nations Charter on Universal Rights (1948). Yet the manner in which these rights are interpreted through ageist conceptualizations of ageing raise questions about the efficacy of such instruments in ensuring right. This is especially the case for older members of diverse and isolated communities such are those of the Arctic. In the study rights issues are treated as central to considerations of welfare eligibility and inclusion.
III. To develop an understanding of the gendered meanings and processes
in elderly people’s social inclusion and wellbeing in the Arctic
Power relations between men and women based on political and
socioeconomic factors have shifted in recent decades and become more
complex. Negative stereotypes of elderly women remain more common than
those of men - yet men may also be the objects of ageism. So new
conceptualizations of gendered ageism must inform definitions of
To create an opportunity for elderly people to produce
knowledge about the drivers of exclusion they experience, and to use
their knowledge in the promotion of social wellbeing.
formulate policy recommendations aimed at preventing exclusion based on
both the dialogue amongst the project participants and the knowledge
experienced by older people themselves in the region.
A multidisciplinary network of scholars from six countries, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Iceland and Canada will come together in order to build innovative methods to address needs both for new knowledge and new activities with regard to advancing elderly people’s agency and inclusion in the changing Arctic context.
Our research design incorporates six different strategies. These include:
1. Document collection and analysis;
3. Focus groups;
4. Field Notes;
5. Theory Building, and
6. Communication of results.
Qualitative methods will be developed with the collaborative participation of the older people who are the subjects of study. This includes discussion of questions to be asked of individuals and groups, the conduct of the interviews, and the development of case studies as a means of triangulating the data.
The project primarily aims to engage in network
based functions including the promotion of research in the above
mentioned field, and extensive dialogue among the project participants,
stake-holders and policy makers. At its final phase, the project will
result in four outcomes:
a) the formation of a strong network of experts
in ageing research focusing on the Nordic upper North;
b) an edited
volume which will include a policy recommendation report highlighting
the issues of promoting “inclusion” of elderly people, and offering a
gender dimension for such inclusion; and
c) the creation of a platform
for the preparation of bigger research project to be filed, for example,
EU Horizon 2020, Nordforsk, ;
d) workshops and seminars throughout and
at the end of the project to share and discuss findings with interested
The project will
include participants from academia who are involved in aging and/or
gender research, the stakeholders and policy makers. This includes
researchers working within the theme of the projects, primarily from
educational institutions in Finland, Norway, Sweden, Iceland, Denmark
and Canada. The project plans to invite participation from stakeholders,
such as professionals working with older people, representatives of
elderly associations, and older people themselves. Amongst policy
makers, representatives of governments or local authorities, for
example, members of the Sami Parliaments will be invited to take part in
the dialogues. The project will organize a kick off meeting and three
workshops within its life.