Exploring Community Perceptions of the relationship between age and social exclusion in rural areas
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Walsh, K., O'Shea, E., Scharf, T. (2013) 'Exploring Community Perceptions of the relationship between age and social exclusion in rural areas'. Quality In Ageing, 13 (NO. 1):16-26.
This paper aims to explore, for the first time, community perceptions of the relationship between age and social exclusion in rural areas of the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. Design/methodology/approach The paper builds on learning from a previous baseline cross-border rural ageing study and draws its methodology from a broader ecological multi-level approach. The research was conducted through focus groups with community stakeholders, which were undertaken in ten communities in different rural settings (village, near-urban, island, dispersed, and remote) in both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.Findings In total, four interconnecting thematic areas emerged as important in determining exclusion or inclusion for older people living in rural areas: place, economic circumstances, social provision, and social connectedness. Within these themes, various tipping points emerged as important for pathways into and out of exclusion, most notably local systems of social support and the mindset of older people themselves in relation to participation. Originality/value This research lays the foundations for understanding the lived experiences of older people on the island of Ireland and the pathways for their inclusion and exclusion in diverse rural areas, as seen through the lens of community stakeholders.