Kees Knipscheer, born in Oosterhout, the Netherlands, in 1940. Ph.D. from Tilburg University. Professor of Sociology and Social Gerontology at the VU University, Amsterdam
Fellow (1 September 2002 – 30 June 2003)
Most of my time at the NIAS was dedicated to working on the plan I originally submitted as member of the research group “Older adults’ life strategies in preparing for the future”. I investigated how people between 65 and 70, who had been retired for at least 5 years, made sense of their lives through for example, daily routines, club memberships, voluntary work, educational activities, physical exercise and travel and to what extent they developed specific ambitions and motivations to contribute to society through some of these activities.
In gerontology, retirement has long been considered a disruptive life event that often results in depression and poor health. However, the empirical evidence for this is variable. In the LASA study, we followed a group of retired people over a period of 10 years and did see shifts in their activity patterns, for example, club memberships, voluntary work and education. In addition, we collected a great deal of information on many health indicators. This meant we had extensive empirical quantitative information about the changes that take place over ten years after retirement. My aim was to add qualitative information to this quantitative data. We did this by assessing subjects’ appreciation of their various activities: how they started, did they achieve what they had hoped for and what ambitions did they have for the next ten years?
During the NIAS year, I interviewed another 33 respondents in three areas in the Netherlands, over a period from September 2002 and May 2003. The core of the work has evolved with a focus on experiences and outcomes of these retirees as presented at the seminar organised by the NIAS theme group. However, in order to put these findings in a broader societal context and come to a more extensive interpretation I plan to work on these data and produce a book provisionally entitled: “The social and cultural identity of an invisible generation”.