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Queer Methods and Queer Practices: Re-examining the Identities of Older Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual Adults

King, A and Cronin, A (2010) Queer Methods and Queer Practices: Re-examining the Identities of Older Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual Adults In: Queer Methods and Methodologies. Intersecting Queer Theories and Social Science Research. Ashgate Publishing Company, pp. 85-96. ISBN 0754678431

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Abstract

The relationship between ageing and sexuality is contentious; older people are frequently represented as either being sexually inactive or not having a sexual identity. Aside from the issue of ageism, such a representation also occludes the lives of those who have been defined by their sexuality: people who identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual. Until recently, the lives of this group of older people had received little serious study (Cronin 2004, Heaphy 2007). This is despite the finding that they comprise an estimated 1 in 15 of the users of one of the UK’s largest charities for older people (Age Concern 2002). Research has now begun to develop across different regions of the UK (see for example Communities Scotland 2005, Davies, et al. 2006, Heaphy and Yip 2006, Stonewall Cymru and Triangle Wales 2006) demonstrating that despite similarities with older heterosexuals, older lesbian, gay and bisexual adults do have specific needs and issues, some of which will be discussed in this chapter. However, much of this literature represents ‘older lesbian, gay and bisexual’ as a largely stable, fixed, taken-for-granted identification. This appears to be at odds with other perspectives within the humanities and social sciences that contend that identities are unstable, multiple and produced contextually. In this chapter we consider this tension and its implications for methodology. Overall, we argue that developing and using methodologies to examine how older lesbian, gay and bisexual identities are produced or accomplished is important if we are to continue developing thinking that moves away from essentialism and avoids reinforcing existing heteronormative understandings of older age. The first section of the chapter begins by discussing the representation of older lesbian, gay and bisexual identities that emerges in previous research; a category of people who are similar yet different from older heterosexuals. In the second section we trouble, or queer, this identification, considering insights from queer theory, the post-structuralist feminism of Judith Butler, together with the sociological perspectives of ethnomethodology and conversation analysis. We then outline how we are developing a methodology in our own research that adopts these insights and that uses both membership categorisation analysis and narrative analysis, although for reasons of brevity we focus our discussion in this chapter on our use of the former. We outline and give examples of this work before discussing its advantages and disadvantages. Finally, we discuss the impact that taking the notion of ‘queering’ seriously has had on our own methodological practice and its potential for a wider application.

Item Type: Book Section
Divisions : Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences > Department of Sociology
Authors :
AuthorsEmailORCID
King, AUNSPECIFIEDUNSPECIFIED
Cronin, AUNSPECIFIEDUNSPECIFIED
Date : 16 August 2010
Uncontrolled Keywords : Social Science
Related URLs :
Additional Information : This is an electronic version of a chpater published as King A, Cronin A (2010). Queer Methods and Queer Practices: Re-examining the Identities of Older Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual Adults. In Queer Methods and Methodologies. Intersecting Queer Theories and Social Science Research. Editors: Browne K, Nash CJ. 85-96. Ashgate Publishing Company 16 Aug 2010 Available online at: http://www.ashgate.com/isbn/9780754678434
Depositing User : Symplectic Elements
Date Deposited : 10 Jul 2013 14:38
Last Modified : 23 Sep 2013 20:08
URI: http://epubs.surrey.ac.uk/id/eprint/774135

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