Civic Socialising: A revealing new theory about older people's social relationships

Joan Stewart, Colette Joy Browning, Jane Sims

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


The research reported in this article investigated the nature and the purpose of older people's social interactions in their local neighbourhood shops. Data were collected through face-to-face interviews with and observation of 11 shoppers, aged 67 years and older, and six shopkeepers. Classic grounded theory analysis method revealed a previously uncharted psycho-social process associated with these interactions entitled by the authors as Civic Socialising; it highlights that older people's interactions in their local neighbourhood shops embody authentication of themselves as individuals and as community members, and their co-construction and co-preservation of the milieu of their local neighbourhood shopping precinct with a view to sustaining their ongoing autonomy. The new conceptual theory Civic Socialising highlights that older people can be proactive, resilient and capable, dimensions integral to human fulfilment, and demonstrates that older people can play an active role in their communities where the environment is enabling. The new conceptual theory Civic Socialising has significance for the way we determine and view older people's social relationships. Crucially, in light of a burgeoning older population world-wide, it is clear that policy makers and social planners must ensure that older people can continue to interact in their communities if ageing in place is to be a satisfying and cost-effective experience. Without such consideration, ageing in place could well create dependency and despondency.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)750-764
Number of pages15
JournalAgeing & Society
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 25 Apr 2015


  • ageing in place
  • classic grounded theory
  • local environment
  • local neighbourhood shops
  • older people
  • person-centred environment
  • social interactions
  • social relationships

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