How ageing and quality of life is influenced by social relationships: An exploration of rural midlife women in Ireland
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Herbert, Alison. (2018). How ageing and quality of life is influenced by social relationships: An exploration of rural midlife women in Ireland. Sociální studia / Social Studies, 15(1), 45-64.
The aim of this article is to examine and contribute to the existing body of knowledge on gendered rural ageing by exploring, from a lifecourse perspective, the pivotal role of social relationships in shaping the quality of life for rural women at mid-life and beyond. Quality of life is examined in relation to the contributing factor of social relationships, and the article further explores concepts that intersect with social relationships to influence quality of life, including those of place, work, and health. As part of the examination of social relationships, complementary concepts of social inclusion and exclusion, social isolation, and loneliness are also explored. Findings from qualitative interviews with 25 women in rural Ireland aged 45 65 years, together with grounded theory analysis, suggest that the quality of life experienced by rural women at mid-life is primarily influenced by the presence, absence, and quality of social relationships experienced with family, friends, and other members of the community. Although a number of influencing factors contribute to perceived quality of life, meaningful social connectivity takes precedence. In considering life beyond middle-age, rural women envisage social inclusion as playing an increasingly vital role in shaping their ageing and their quality of life.