Remembering My Hat

5th February 2020

Long gestation articles

Filed under: Uncategorized — rememberingmyhat @ 13:02
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Yesterday I heard that another one of my slow-burn articles has been accepted. Here’s the title and abstract:

Later life sex and Rubin’s ‘Charmed Circle’

Gayle Rubin’s now classic concept of the ‘charmed circle’ has been much used by scholars of sexuality to discuss the ways in which some types of sex are privileged over others. In this paper, I apply the concept of the charmed circle to a new topic– later life – in order both to add to theory about later life sex and to add an older-age lens to thinking about sex hierarchies. Traditional discursive resources around older people’s sexual activities, which treat older people’s sex as inherently beyond the charmed circle, now coexist with new imperatives for older people to remain sexually active as part of a wider project of ‘successful’ or ‘active’ ageing. Drawing on the now-substantial academic literature about later life sex, I discuss some of the ways in which redrawing the charmed circle to include some older people’s sex may paradoxically entail the use of technologies beyond the charmed circle of ‘good, normal, natural, blessed’ sex. Sex in later life also generates some noteworthy inversions in which types of sex are privileged and which treated as less desirable, in relation to marriage and procreation. Ageing may, furthermore, make available new possibilities to redefine what constitutes ‘good’ sex and to refuse compulsory sexuality altogether, without encountering stigma.

This one started as a talk within a symposium at the ‘Sexual Cultures’ conference held at Brunel University in 2012. The symposium was great, with brilliant papers from Meg-John Barker, Christina Richards and Ester McGeeney also applying Rubin’s charmed circle to sex therapy, transpeople’s sexuality and young people’s sex, respectively. A revised version of my own paper also went down well at a European Sociological Association conference in Turin the following year and it always felt like something I wanted to say and thought needed saying. So I’ve been pondering why it took me so damn long to get it published, and what that tells me about the barriers and enablers for me of writing for journals (I’ve always found writing in other forms much easier).



I see from my Word ‘planned publications’ folder that I had a complete first draft within 9 months of the original symposium, so it’s not that I got stuck on the transition from talk to writing, as I sometimes do. I remember that I presented that first draft at a Feminist Reading Group meeting, and that members of the group were polite but seemed to be most interested in the bit at the end about refusing sex, rather than what I saw as the main point of the paper. That made me think that I hadn’t managed to communicate what I wanted to communicate. I also had a senior colleague read it for me and, alongside many helpful and supportive comments, she remarked that it read a bit like the lit review section of a Masters dissertation. That hurt and was very discouraging but I realised it was true. This paper is not an empirical paper, it’s a conceptual one and I always find empirical papers easier to write. I was struggling to find a voice in which to write primarily about ideas rather than primarily about data and, at that point, I couldn’t find it. In retrospect, I also recognise that at the time I had two pre-schoolers, was chronically sleep-deprived, only employed 3 days a week, was drowning in teaching and quite honestly it was a miracle that I managed to write anything at all. But the whole neo-liberal higher education culture means that I have only been able to recognise that with hindsight.

My ‘planned publications’ folder tells me that I then did nothing on the paper until 2018. So what did enable me to start writing it again? Partly it was the contextual personal stuff – I was getting plenty of sleep, my kids needed me less, I was working 4 days a week, I had a better writing routine, and I found my more senior teaching and management roles more enabling of research than my more junior ones. But I think it was also about increased confidence and facility in writing for journals. In between, I’d had a couple of really positive co-writing experiences and also managed to write the one big sole-authored paper I really wanted to write, even though it was really hard and also took years (this one: Jones, Rebecca L. (2019). Life course perspectives on (bi)sexuality: Methodological tools to deprivilege current identities. Sexualities, 22(7-8) pp. 1071–1093.) That made the task of sorting out this paper much less daunting. I had also got interested in the topic of later life sex again, so it had moved in my mind from ‘old stuff’ to ‘current stuff’. I benefited hugely from a three day writing retreat paid for by my department. By the end of the three days I’d managed to find the voice for writing conceptually, and that pretty much cracked it. Although it feels like a bit of a cheat because I pretty much just treated the academic literature on the topic as a kind of data… But it seems to have worked, so I’ll settle for that.

I think the lessons I draw from this for myself are:

  • have faith in yourself
  • recognise the contextual stuff and cut yourself some slack
  • take the long view – it’s okay for some articles to take years (spoken from a position of huge privilege of being permanently employed and working in a supportive environment where I am not pressured to meet impossible targets).
  • keep slogging away at new voices, even though it will slow you down
  • go on writing retreats!

26th February 2019

Imagining feminist old age: Initial feedback to participants

Filed under: Uncategorized — rememberingmyhat @ 12:42

For the past 9 months I’ve been doing fieldwork for a small unfunded project which asks feminists to imagine a personal ideal feminist old age, using creative methods such as sketching, stickers and collage. The project is a response to this paper (Sandberg and Marshall, 2017), which calls for new visions of old age, and also builds on my own past work using creative methods to imagine alternative visions of personal ageing. The fieldwork is so much fun! And also really challenging and demanding, and much more personal to me than I expected. But really energising and exciting.

So far I’ve run 90-minute workshops with three groups of self-identified feminists. Participants in the workshops have wanted to know what I’m finding, so this post is a quick-and-dirty summary of some of the initial findings so far. It’s not proper systematic analysis yet, just some impressions of patterns I’m seeing at this stage. I’m also not describing the methods or the research rationale here, because participants in the workshops already know about that – if non-participant readers want to know more I’m happy to say more. All the names are self-chosen pseudonyms and the images are CC-BY (Rebecca L. Jones, link to this page if reusing). The groups have been quite diverse and I might later look at whether there are any differences between the groups in terms of the kinds of feminist futures they imagine, but that’s beyond the scope of this post.

Rambler close up of figures

There has been lots of talk about the importance of maintaining independence – bodily, financial and personal independence. The photo above shows Rambler’s imagined future where new technology and financial resources enable her to keep doing an activity that’s really important to her- rambling. The figure on the left is Rambler, the figure on the right is ‘robodog’ who has GPS in his tail, carries first aid and survival supplies and will report back to a base unit if Rambler gets into difficulty.

Vanessa also imagined technology playing a role in enabling a feminist old age. She said that her creation shows “A future where gender ceases to have much significance and that this isn’t just a London-centric, Liberal indulgence. Specifically, that the rapid developments in AI allow coming generations of women to live their chosen lives unjudged and able to change those lives with advancing years.”

The two groups that were made up only of women talked a lot about personal and family relationships and the tension between wanting to be supportive and close to loved ones but also sometimes to feel less responsible for other people than they did at the moment. In one group, a lively debate developed between the majority arguing that they wanted immediate and extended family around them and one participant who stated she wanted to get away from family and that she had spent her life running around after people and just wanted solitude in old age. In another group, Christine wrote about the importance of family and loved ones but also said that she would no longer be delaying gratification and earning money to keep others, and that she would “finally […] have only responsibility for myself”

Becoming more yourself and less limited by other people’s expectations also seems to come quite up a lot. For example, Gabrielle said her creation showed “Living my best life. [… being] fierce and sassy with no limit and boundaries […] To be limitless […] To be powerful over my self”:


Participants also imagined futures where attitudes to older people, and especially older women, were different. For example, Simone imagined being “respected by society and family so one is not inhibited from being nosey and inquisitive”:

IMG_20190226_093754083Similarly, Gorgeous Grey, chose as one of the three main things that would enable her to have a feminist old age “Change of attitude amongst younger people to realise older women have a lot to offer.”

In these lists of the three main things that would enable a feminist old age, good health and sufficient money have been by far the commonest things mentioned, but supportive family, friends and communities of feminist or other like-minded people, have also been mentioned frequently. Other things include “to have a voice that is heard and role that is useful” (Olive), a more representative democracy, including more women and people of more diverse ages in government (Vanessa), better financial support from the state and a change of housing policy to make co-operative living easier (Gorgeous Grey) and “accepting and respecting care” (Peggy Tilly). Some people included personal attributes in these lists such as ‘courage’ (Christine) and “Ideally my wits” (Maddy).

One thing I’m noticing is that several people are mentioning being near water in their ideal feminist futures – often the sea but sometimes just ‘water’. Malaika said that she “would love to live next to a water body. Water calms my soul”. Jazzy’s creation shows “me swimming naked, brown as a coconut (i.e. tree) in ocean in HOT climate with grey bob [her hair]”:

I’m not sure what to make of all this water yet! Suggestions very welcome…

There’s so much more I could say – this is really rich and interesting data and I’d welcome any comments or questions.

I’m also still looking for one or two other groups to run workshops with, so if anyone knows any groups of people who would be happy to describe themselves as feminists (the group doesn’t have to be an explicitly feminist one, and the workshops are open to all genders and ages), not too far from Milton Keynes or London, please do let me know. I’d particularly like to find a group of younger feminists (but not younger than 18, because of ethics clearances) or people with caring responsibilities, or parents of young children, or people with disabilities, as these are some of the groups that are currently under-represented in my sample. Participants seem to really enjoy the workshops and I always supply cake and fruit!


27th November 2018

Applying to become a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy

Filed under: Uncategorized — rememberingmyhat @ 15:33

‘Finish SFHEA application’ has been one of my annual objectives for at least the last three years. I have now very nearly finished it and am pretty confident I will get it submitted by the next deadline for the OU scheme in January. In my 6k words of case, I have ended up making quite a lot of reference to entries in this blog ‘as evidence of my reflective approach to my pedagogic practice’ so it seemed appropriate to reflect in this entry on why it has taken me so damn long.

Like most people, I have tasks I procrastinate on but this is a really long procrastination for me. It’s also not the kind of task I usually procrastinate on – those are usually things I am scared I can’t really do, whereas I really am pretty confident that I deserve to be a SF of the HEA. Although putting it in writing like this feels horribly fate-tempting. And is not to say that I’ve got the case right yet, dear reader, if you are one of my reviewers. Of course I’ve had lots of competing demands on my time and things that felt (and undoubtedly were) more important than this, but really, in 3 years I couldn’t have found the approximately 10 days it has taken me to finally get there?!

So what has made it so difficult? One initial difficulty was that it felt a bit like applying for a job or a promotion in that it seemed to require the same kind of blowing-your-own-trumpet that is so uncomfortable for many British people and people-raised-as-women especially.


(cc Paul Williamson)

This included feeling that I was claiming credit for things that had actually been a team effort. My first draft was pages and pages of ‘I did this and here is the evidence that it was GREAT!’  and writing it was a really uncomfortable and drawn-out experience. And also quite discouraging because for some of the things I was writing about there wasn’t very good evidence that it was GREAT because it’s a complex system with many co-dependencies and a lot of my work as a Qualifications Lead is very slow burn. It helped when I realised that actually ‘I did this and it was GREAT’ was not what was required. Rather (I think), it needs ‘I did this because [reasons] and it led to [changes] which I evaluated [like this] and which has [these implications] for what we should do next’. That reframing of the task enabled me to access first a reflective voice and then a critical one, both of which come much more naturally to me than the ‘banging my own drum’ one.


(cc Linda Thomas-Fowler)

Another conceptual difficulty I experienced was the issue of drawing on the academic literature, because it felt like cheating. I don’t read pedagogic primary literature that often, so it felt as if I was retrofitting the academic literature on to decisions I had made for other reasons. Two things helped me deal with that. One, appropriately enough, was Wenger-Trayner’s notion of the community of practice and recognising that, while I don’t myself read the primary pedagogic literature that much, I am a fish swimming in a sea of pedagogic literature because the OU cares so much about teaching. I’ve gone to countless seminars and workshops on pedagogic issues, I read briefings and reports from primary researchers the whole time, I line manage people who undertake scholarship projects (and do the odd one myself) and I have conversations with colleagues in the corridors and during meetings about the best ways to teach things the whole time. So I am actually drawing on the pedagogic literature the whole time, just not always directly.


(cc) Ryan McMinds

The other thing that helped with this, also appropriately enough given that some of my case reflects on the 14 years I’ve been teaching at the OU, was thinking about some of the concepts I included in the first materials I ever developed, for K101 back in 2005. I wrote a section about evidence-based practice and explored some of the debates about whether ‘evidence’ just means academic studies or whether it also includes the knowledge of expert practitioners and service users. I’ve always been of the opinion that it has to include both (in critical dialogue with one another) but I realised that I’d been privileging the academic literature over my own, colleagues’ and students’ expert knowledges. That enabled me to reconceptualise what I am doing by citing the literature as tracing back the academic genealogy of an idea, rather than falsely claiming to have made this decision because the literature told me to (which anyway, would be a terrible way to proceed because you can hardly ever move straight from ‘the literature’ to ‘what you should do’ in this kind of complex world).

So there you are, some reflections on the process, which I will now link to in my case, to complete the self-referential circle. If nothing else, this should ensure I really do get the damn things submitted soon because how embarrassing would that be?!


(cc) Christine Mahler

11th July 2017

Updated reading list on bisexuality and ageing

Filed under: Uncategorized — rememberingmyhat @ 17:31

My 2012 reading list on bisexuality and ageing is one of my most popular posts, so here’s an updated version, to take account of some literature I’ve encountered more recently. The heading ‘Empirical literature’ is pretty exhaustive – this is everything I know about that focuses on bisexuality and ageing. If I’ve missed something, please do let me know! ‘Non-empirical literature’ is not exhaustive but these are some of the most cited and (I think) most interesting pieces (why yes, I do include one of my own chapters in there!) Do let me know if you would like to read any of these and are having trouble getting access.

Empirical studies of bisexuality and ageing

Special Issue of the Journal of Bisexuality on Ageing and Bisexuality (2016) 16:1:

  • BÉRES-DEÁK, R. (2016) “I’ve Also Lived as a Heterosexual”—Identity Narratives of Formerly Married Middle-Aged Gays and Lesbians in Hungary. Journal of Bisexuality, 16, 81-98.
  • HILL, B. J., SANDERS, S. A. & REINISCH, J. M. (2016) Variability in Sex Attitudes and Sexual Histories Across Age Groups of Bisexual Women and Men in the United States. Journal of Bisexuality, 16, 20-40.
  • SCHNARRS, P. W., ROSENBERGER, J. G. & NOVAK, D. S. (2016) Differences in Sexual Health, Sexual Behaviors, and Evaluation of the Last Sexual Event Between Older and Younger Bisexual Men. Journal of Bisexuality, 16, 41-57.
  • WITTEN, T. M. (2016) Aging and Transgender Bisexuals: Exploring the Intersection of Age, Bisexual Sexual Identity, and Transgender Identity. Journal of Bisexuality, 16, 58-80.

FREDRIKSEN-GOLDSEN, K. I., SHIU, C., BRYAN, A. E. B., GOLDSEN, J. & KIM, H.-J. 2017. Health Equity and Aging of Bisexual Older Adults: Pathways of Risk and Resilience. The Journals of Gerontology: Series B, 72, 468-478.

JONES, R. L. (2011) Imagining bisexual futures: Positive, non-normative later life Journal of Bisexuality, 11, 245-270.

JONES, R. L. (2012) Imagining the unimaginable: Bisexual roadmaps for ageing. IN WARD, R., RIVERS, I. & SUTHERLAND, M. (Eds.) Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender ageing: Providing effective support through understanding life stories. London, Jessica Kingsley.

JONES, R. L., ALMACK, K. & SCICLUNA, R. (2016) Ageing and bisexuality: Case studies from the ‘Looking Both Ways’ Study, The Open University, Milton Keynes, UK

ROWNTREE, M. R. (2015) The influence of ageing on baby boomers’ not so straight sexualities. Sexualities, 18, 980-996.

WEINBERG, M. S., WILLIAMS, C. J. & PRYOR, D. W. (2001) Bisexuals at midlife: Commitment, salience and identity. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, 30, 180-208.


Non-empirical literature on bisexual ageing

DWORKIN, S. H. (2006) Aging bisexual: The invisible of the invisble minority. IN KIMMEL, D., ROSE, T. & DAVID, S. (Eds.) Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender aging: Research and clinical perspectives. New York,ColumbiaUniversity Press.

FIRESTEIN, B. (Ed.) (2007) Becoming visible: Counseling bisexuals across the lifespan, New York, Columbia University Press.

JOHNSTON, T. R. (2016) Bisexual Aging and Cultural Competency Training: Responses to Five Common Misconceptions. Journal of Bisexuality, 16, 99-111.

KEPPEL, B. (2006) Affirmative psychotherapy with older bisexual women and men. Journal of Bisexuality, 6, 85-104.

JONES, R. L. (2016) Sexual identity labels and their implications in later life: The case of bisexuality. In: PEEL, E. & HARDING, R. (eds.) Ageing & Sexualities: Interdisciplinary perspectives. Farnham: Ashgate.

KEPPEL, B. & FIRESTEIN, B. (2007) Bisexual inclusion in addressing issues of GLBT aging: Therapy with older bisexual women and men. In: FIRESTEIN, B. (ed.) Becoming visible: counselling bisexuals across the lifespan. New York: Columbia University Press

RODRIGUEZ RUST, P. C. (2012) Aging in the bisexual community. In: WITTEN, T. M. & EYLER, A. E. (eds.) Gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender aging: Challenges in research, practice and policy. Baltimore, US: The John Hopkins University Press.


5th May 2017

Exploring sensory and material methodologies: Part 3

Filed under: Uncategorized — rememberingmyhat @ 16:56

Liveblog from a seminar. Much briefer notes because I’m tired now, not because the talks were any less fascinating.

Sarah Nettleton, Christina Buse and Daryl Martin

Making places for care: An exploration of materials and the liveliness of things in the design of residential care homes for later life.

Sociological study of architecture in context of health and social care. Building of care homes for older people

Tim Ingold ‘Making’ 2013 – anthropological approach to architecture. Yaneva ‘The making of a building’ 2012 – the social doesn’t explain the design but the building is itself social.

Following an architectural firm who won a tender to build a care home for a local authority. Design features a distinctive curved wall, architects aiming to invite people into the entrance and for smooth elegance, dynamism, being welcoming, anti-utilitarian. Curves communicate care. Stone communicates quality. CAD images to persuade that they will engender particular atmospheres.

Troubles within the team about expensive bricks. Bricks are both objects and social constructs. Becomes a matter of concern to the team. Economics of care.


(cc) Quinn Dombrowski

Monica Degen, Brunel

Sensory cities: A think-kit to research, curate and represent the urban experience

The city as a sensory-experiential space. Nauseating smell of rubbish bins, ring of a bicycle bell. Sensory regimes divide and structure spaces, favouring elites.

Public space is very politicised topic so this can lead to very abstract and polarised talk [and indeed many research topics are, to be intelligible and get funded!]. But if you ask people how a space makes them feel, what aspects of the space they perceive immediately and which they notice later, you get much more nuanced and interesting information.

Project with museums, urban planners, researchers and others. Important in cross-professional teams to clarify ‘what counts as a method’? Historian and social scientist often disagreed. ‘What is the relationship between body, mind and environment?’ ‘What is the nature (and number) of the senses?’ (beyond the classical 5). ‘What is the relationship between physical and cultural factors?’

Aiming to provide a resource to enable others to engage with cities through the senses – but had to mediate it through a website! 

Exploring sensory and material methodologies: Part 2

Filed under: Uncategorized — rememberingmyhat @ 15:38

Part 2 of a liveblog of a seminar at Brunel University. Part 1 here


Vanessa May and Camilla Lewis, Morgan Centre, Manchester

The use of sensory methods in researching atmosphere and place

Claremont Court – Edinburgh post-war modernist social housing, designed to foster a sense of community, on the edge of the New Town. Much housing sold off in 80s so now quite socially mixed. Modernist housing like this is often seen [in the UK] as unhomely and barren

Research interested in the bodily experiences which contribute to sense of belonging to a place. Difficult to verbalise, so need sensory methods. New mobilities paradigm in soc sci. Sit down methods where talking is the centre of attraction and everything else is pushed to the background (Kusenbach, 2003: 462). ‘Walking interviews’ seen as much better.

But their first interview with each participant was not focused on the sensory but on the biographical and sense of belonging but participants talked a lot about the sensory. Thought that, actually sit-down interviews were just as good at bringing sensory methods to the fore as mobile methods. Three factors help to explain why:

  1. Something particular to Claremont Court
  2. That home-making is inherently sensory
  3. That the interviews were conducted within the home, which was the topic of the interviews.


(cc) kaysgeog

Auditory geographies:

A quiet place. Some disturbances from cobbles and traffic for those who lived abutting the main road but generally described as quiet. Occassional changes e.g. events at the Tattoo and during the Edinburgh Festival.

Sound-proofing in the flats was commented on, both being a victim of other people’s rows and music and worries about your own activities (piano-playing and parties)

Moral issues in noise – good residents and neighbours are quiet. And yet silence can also be distressing and ominous. Being able to hear other people can be reassuring. Listening is as important in apprehending the world as looking.

Light and sunlight:

All participants commented on how lovely and light the flats are (most are south facing, all have large windows and balconies) and how warm the flats and balconies were as a result. Many used the term ‘suntrap’ and compared it to the Mediterranean, especially in contrast to the Edinburgh norm.

Some bits are dark – some stairwells, an underpassage entry. These spaces avoided whenever possible.

Affective qualities of light, especially natural daylight. Safety bound up with light. Same place became unsafe in the night but fine in the daytime. Sense of where the cold bits were in the flats. In the dark, sounds become more significant. Importance of paying attention to emotional impacts of spaces.


Want to rehabilitate the traditional sit-down interview a bit – not a lost cause for engaging people’s sensory imaginations. Sitting is just as much an embodied experience as walking! Can read traditional methods through a sensory lens.


Jen Tarr (LSE)

Sensory and arts-based approaches to chronic pain communication

‘A better pain chart’ by Hyperbole and a half

We know that pain doesn’t necessarily correlate with injury. MRI scans often show damage in pain-free patients. Still can’t see pain in the brain even with fMRI scans.

Self-reports are uni-dimensional – how much, not what other qualities it has.

McGill Pain questionnaire is more multidimensional via adjectives, line drawings etc. but this may actually standardise the language of pain and thus limit descriptions.

Unhelpful binaries around pain communication

  • Real/unreal
  • Physical/psychological
  • Mind/body
  • Visible/invisible


(cc) Krisztina Tordai

What might arts-based experiences contribute?

Held fortnightly workshops over 2 months with 6-13 participants

22 participants, 17 of whom only managed to attend one of the workshops (chronic pain!) + 3 researchers and 2 specialists to lead each workshop.

20h video recordings, fieldnotes, arts outputs (drawings, photographs, sound recordings) and evaluation forms.

Workshops as performative social science (Law and Urry, 2004). Workshop foci:

  1. Imaging and imagining chronic pain – about mri
  2. Body Mapping
  3. Soundscapes
  4. Spatial mapping

Different ways of relating to your pain. Someone with nerve pain that fees like electric shocks, thought about humorous ways of earthing the shock (balloons attached to a electrical plug and cable).

Sound was a really good metaphor for chronic pain. Often very aversive sounds like spoons being scraped on grater. Sound artist created a soundscape that combined these sounds into a listenable form – goal not to eliminate the sounds/pain but to rework them into something bearable.

Workshops enabled new questions about pain:

  • Is it inside you or something that comes from outside?
  • Is it more helpful to tune in, building awareness, or to shut it out and abstract yourself
  • Is the pain an inevitable part of you?
  • How and to what extent has pain shaped your personhood?
  • Can there be a ‘you’ without pain?

People gave very different answers, partly to do with the type of pain but also to do with how they conceptualised it.

Methodological outcomes:

  1. Prioritise process over product. Had originally intended to display results of workshops but concluded this wasn’t appropriate (too personal, worried about making them look stupid for naïve styles of drawing – these weren’t artists)
  2. Co-constituting what you aim to measure
  3. Importance of uncertainty in disrupting established roles and narratives. Being out of your comfort zone as a researcher, not being in charge because the specialist workshop leaders were (and sometimes said things the researchers didn’t agree with).
  4. ‘Liveness’ of improvised space



Think of the outputs as versions rather than representations? [not sure that helps me]

[The old issue of how do you analyse the non-textual]




Exploring Sensory and Material Methodologies

Filed under: Uncategorized — rememberingmyhat @ 15:18

More incomplete and partial liveblog notes from a seminar. This one being held at Brunel University, London, hosted by the Welfare, Health and Wellbeing research theme

Stephen Katz, Trent University, Canada

Hold On! Gravity, ageing and the materiality of falling

How does it feel to grow older? Ageing seen as a stripping away of the senses (‘sans teeth, sans sight, sans hearing’ etc.) not as an accumulation of a lifetime of senses. Older people often do become sensorally isolated.

Sheldon 1970s paper ‘natural history of falling’. Taxonomy.

Falls are very common among older people, lead to hospitalisations (2nd most common cause in Canada) and to further risks and negative outcomes.

Children fall all the time, but it’s seen as a sign of failing in older people. Transforms a person into ‘a faller’ someone who has ‘had a fall’ rather than ‘fallen over’.

OP tend to describe falls as trips, slips, loss of balance, accidents but care professionals tend to describe them as risks.

Enormous, well-funded industry has arisen for falls prevention. Active ageing as the panacea – life style choice. Also bone density scans, grab bars, age-friendly housing.

Institutional settings contribute to falls through staff shortages and trivialisation of falling.

OP don’t want to join fall-prevention programmes because it’s stigmatising. Special shoes and padded pants add to the stigma, especially for women, who fall more than men and suffer more injuries from those falls. Connects to views of women as weaker, needing to be careful and not take risks, especially post-menopause. Gender relations of power contribute.

Gravity as a fundamental part of our experience as humans. Standing up is a risk. If we expect OP to be responsible self-carers (active ageing) then we have to allow them to take reasonable risks.



(cc) Jean-Maki Simon


Christina Buse (York) and Julia Twigg (Kent)

Dress as a material method for researching the experiences of people with dementia

Hoskins (1998) biographical objects – starting with an object prompts discussion of intimate topics

Mason and Davies (2009) ‘creative interviews’ using visual prompts, physical environment

Sophie Woodward (2015) ‘object interviews’ e.g jeans in ‘Denim’ project.

Weber and Mitchell (2004) dress as a ‘method of enquiry’  – work as a springboard for discussion. Materialises qs of identity (Woodward, 2007). Ageing and embodiment ‘Hocket et al. 2013 on shoes. Twigg (2013) on age ordering of clothes.

Reminiscence with people with demetia has used objects and creative methods for a long time, now being extended to research methods. Walking interviews too.

‘Wardrobe interviews’ Banim and Guy (2001); Sophie Woodward (2007). Show and tell. Interview alongside wardrobe – very revealing and intimate.

Mostly talking about the care home bit of their study.

In their study, handling and touching garments prompted PWD to remember. Changes in ordering of wardrobe and changes in clothing type revealed things about care (different clothes that were more practical for current physical needs). ‘Kept clothes’ capture thing s about the self and self-image, hanging on to past identities. Ex-builder who liked to wear his old work clothes for pottering in the garage and garden – reinhabiting his working identity.

Lots of women had lots of handbags they hung on to.

Discarded and forgotten clothes (Bury, 1982 biographical disruption). Sometimes old clothes not recognised, forgotten and abandoned. Transitions into care homes often a point when wardrobes change radically – traumatic for family to have to go through clothes making these choices. ‘Dressing up’ clothes and jewellery usually didn’t go into the care home. Scruffy old clothes also often thrown out at this stage.

Sensory elicitation (Pink, 2012). Used vintage clothes as sensory prompts. Hats and silk stockings. Non-verbal older people would often respond with smiles and pleasure to velvets and silks.

Also looked through photograph albums at the clothes they wore.

Observational methods (ethnography in the public areas of the care home) enabled the inclusion of people with advanced dementia who couldn’t take part in interviews. Smoothing a skirt, ripping off a bib at mealtimes.

Women with dementia still did complementing one another on clothes.

Handbags – meanings actively negotiated. Lots of women always had handbag with them and spend a lot of time rummaging in their handbags. Suggests the care home is an unhomely or, at best, a liminal space. Would sometimes say they were looking for the bus fare home. Difficult to get privacy in care homes – encouraged to be in public areas in the daytime, and bedrooms not truly private. Handbags used as territorial marker to keep seat if temporarily left it.

Previous research has looked at ‘handbag audits’ – what the contents say about the owner. IN care home context, noticeable absence of money and keys, symbolising loss of autonomy.

Often contained apparently random objects that were actually hugely meaningful. Former hairdresser had hairdressing scissors and an old ballet shoe (had been a keen dancer) + momentos of parents and uncle. Acted as an aide memoire

Some men used pockets in similar ways.

Observed laundry work in care homes and did walking interviews with laundry workers. Lots of practical constraints which limited choice for residents. Delicate fabrics discouraged, like cashmere, real wool, silk. Lined to infection control measures – soiled garments have to be washed hot.

Stressful and hot work, never-ending. But some laundry workers did make connections between the clothes and the person – would take special care of beloved garments or be able to recognise whose it was even though the name label had fallen off. But this depended on long-term relationships – casualization of care home staff prevents this.

People with dementia continue to enact their identities through dress, albeit limited by the practical constraints of being in a care home.

Christina runs network for researchers.


(cc) Victor Camilo

Questions and discussion

Falling as a liminal experience – from one space to another, and also from competent adult to ‘faller’. And handbags signifying care home as a liminal space. Do women hang on to their handbags as they fall?!

Identity threat of having a fall when you are already having health/disability issues is compounded. Has less impact on the carer because they already have an identity as a carer, maybe?

Importance of the environment and class/wealth (better/worse housing, money for adaptions) in causing falls – but it’s all pushed back to the individual.

Tai chi, dance and visualising the body activities as potential ways of understanding the body rather than medicalised one.

If care home residents want to look scruffy, or wear pyjamas in the public areas, they should be able to, but care homes then become vulnerable to inspection agencies and to the judgements of visitors that they are not caring properly. Also happened in private homes – being a good carer and keeping the personhood of the person alive through keeping them well-dressed, but they might not want that themselves.

Big debate in the US at the moment about whether people with dementia should still be able to have their guns, and not just unloaded ones. Direction of travel seems to be ‘yes’.

You could use food as a sensory method – taste to prompt memories.

Glasses and wallets [maybe mobile phones in the future]

26th January 2017

New Towns Heritage Seminar: Milton Keynes (Part 2)

Filed under: Uncategorized — rememberingmyhat @ 15:04

Last post from me today as this afternoon we’re off on a bus tour of MK, guided by David Lock, which I’m looking forward to hugely and expect to find fascinating, but I’ll get travel sick if I try to blog at the same time.

Dave Chetwyn, Historic Towns Forum and Urban Vision CIC

Planning for heritage in new towns

Oversupply of new housing in some parts of country but conversation is all about south-east housing crisis. Growth agenda is driven by London, not the whole of the country. New work/life patterns – big growth in home working.

Difficulty of understanding MK – where are the pavements?! [And the houses – that thing people say about ‘I drove round the outer ring road once’ – ‘no you didn’t, you drove through the middle’]. But actually the town centre is very permeable to pedestrians. Need a handbook to explain how it works.

Same issues about conservation and regeneration for MK as for any other city. But in most cities declining industrial and commercial areas preserve architectural heritage and then are regenerated by creative and knowledge-based start-ups (because cheap rents) [and liking for edgy urban atmospheres]. But MK it isn’t about the decline of industrial and commercial areas. More about housing areas. E.g. Netherfield only meant to have a 25 yrs life and problem of isolation because of car-centricness of the design [and it doesn’t give you an edgy urban vibe].

Neighbourhood planning as the answer – bringing micro local interests into the planning process. Links with Third Sector.



(cc) Tim Ebbs

David Lock, David Lock Associates

A plan for Milton Keynes: A framework, not a blueprint

Story of new towns is all about the wider political context of the model of state intervention.

MK is on the turn of a page between state planning and private sector development of new towns

Initial plans for MK were on this model, CMK, gridroads etc. Then under Thatcher all became much more privatised. Christ the Cornerstone built only because managed to get office blocks on either side to pay for it – social goods could only be delivered by the private sector.

First new town planners were all demobbed architects, no profession of town planning [is that true?] – built a town as objects with spaces in-between. MK built the spaces in-between, then other people do the infill. MK plan as trellis – what flowers grow is entirely separate. You should judge the quality of MK on the flexibility and resilience of the trellis [he would say that though, wouldn’t he!]

People moving into a new town, as they continue to do in huge numbers to MK, buy the vision of a city in a way they don’t in an old town [?]

People say MK is too big and spread out, but actually all the infrastructure (flood defence measures, sewage, industry etc.) are within the grid, whereas old towns impinge on their surroundings loads.

Photos of MK only ever show the rigidly gridded city centre, whereas the rest of the city is fluid and bendy.

Deliberate plan to build roads right up to the edge of the grid, to allow for future expansion – but this has not been done for newest estates.

City centre is still only about 60% built. Cornish (now Chinese) granite for kerb stones. Covered porches to encourage pedestrians to cross road at particular points, no pedestrian crossings needed. Design for cars to recognise the realities of people’s preferences. Separation of cars from pedestrians.

Closing off of underpasses and breaking of the boulevard line in the city centre (Intu) was based on the usual (non-MK) planning assumption of buildings up to the grid-edge. And doesn’t work at all because the edges are air-conditioning units and blank staff entrances to shops – not the kind of liveable urban spaces that designers wanted.


  1. Pioneers and new arrivals have unusually strong commitments to ‘the promise’ of their new town
  2. The framework and the buildings are not the same thing
  3. The pressures from outsiders and passers-through to ‘normalise’ new towns are very strong
  4. Respect, understand, celebrate and cultivate the difference of new towns!




New Towns Heritage Seminar: Milton Keynes

Filed under: Uncategorized — rememberingmyhat @ 13:36

My usual incomplete and partial notes from a seminar. [My own thoughts and reactions in square brackets like this]. This one is slightly off my usual focus – the room is full of architects and town planners (and there are far more white older men in suits than I’m used to!)

Sabine Coady Schaebitz, Coventry Uni

The AHRC New Towns Heritage Project

[Image of MK shopping centre just as I remember it from when I first lived here, with the flat marble edged planters instead of the current benches which seat many fewer people. But this picture is from 1972 – the woman is wearing a very early 1970s hat and coat and the man is wearing a shirt and tie. To my eye, they look completely out of place with the architecture which still looks contemporary.]

Destructions of 2WW brought huge awareness of loss of heritage but also paradoxically equally great intentional destruction of (especially) Victorian architecture as part of post-war reconstruction. Betjeman setting up Victorian Society as a response.

Firestone building (1920s) destroyed over a BH weekend in 1970, allegedly in order to avoid imminent listing. Catalyst to big increase in listing of in 20th C modernist architectural heritage. Stevenage town centre one of the first to be listed.

Significance of community/cohesion and sustainability to heritage


(cc) Ian

MK train station

Stephen Ward, Oxford Brookes Uni

New towns: A European perspective

New towns are not new! Humans have always intentionally created new towns – new territories captured, replacing previous settlements that have become untenable (e.g. after natural distasters) etc.

But 30-35 yrs from 1945 are a European peak. UK, Sweden and Socialist states from 1940s, then another wave in 1960s in Netherland and France. Lots outside Europe too of course.

All relied on state sector to lead their development – belong to era of much bigger government than nowadays. Aims:

  • To relieve current or impending housing pressures (6 yrs of no building + huge destruction of housing stock + baby boom)
  • To decentralise, to not just add on to the edges of existing cities
  • To improve existing settlement and housing patterns
  • A few to colonise new lands
  • To promote regional or local economic development
  • To promote new urban ideals (urbanism)
  • Other ideological reasons

Lots of local resistance to the first UK New Town (Stevenage), especially about compulsory purchase. 1949 cartoon of planners choosing where New Towns should be situated by throwing darts at a map of south east England while blindfolded.

Stockholm played out a bit differently. UK most urbanised country in Europe (80% pop in urban areas since beginning of 20th C), Sweden very different. Advert saying ‘Don’t come to Stockholm – 21,000 people are already homeless here’. Vaellingby had advertising campaign with attractive young women ‘Miss Vaellingby’ employed as information officers.

In Socialist states big focus on moving economy from an agricultural one to an industrial one e.g. DDR Stalinstadt ‘Germany’s first socialist city’. Created with reference to Stevenage etc. – socialism can do this as well / better.

Netherlands lots of new towns were about reclaiming the Zuider Zee. Totally new territory.

France first new town 1969. Part of move from an agricultural economy. French, and especially Parisian town expansion was even more chaotic and uncontrolled than the UK pre war.

New towns contested almost everywhere [presumably less overtly in socialist states]. Also jealousies over alleged favouring of NTs over other towns. Costs. Getting what was promised e.g. a hospital for MK. Creaming off the best of local existing populations?



(cc) Tom Parnell

This mural is in MK central library

Steven Bee, Academy of Urbanism and Historic Towns Forum

How new is new? Commonality and distinctiveness among ‘new’ settlements

Romans built 6 big new cities in UK (Silchester, London). Contrast in fortunes of these two! Normans didn’t build many new settlements – added to existing ones. Georgian is next big wave – e.g. Edinburgh New Town. Then industrial revolution back-to-backs. Response from philanthropists/capitalists like Port Sunlight and New Earswick.

New influences on town building in 20C

  • Technology
  • Post-war reconstruction (1WW too)
  • Welface state
  • Municipalisation
  • Green Belts
  • Town Planning

Poundbury as reaction to New Towns

Academy of Urbanism aims and objectives on their website – better towns, in a nutshell. New book ‘Urbanism’ has lessons learned from lots of towns.

Three cities that are currently going through current huge growth (same kind of rate as MK when originally built). All old cities.


  • Long term strong leadership (popular mayor for 20 years!)
  • Clear vision for growth – not just more of the same but a specific idea (not necessarily a good one! Just an idea)
  • Investing in public assets like transport – only 300,000 residents but amazing public transport system
  • French appetite for Grands Projects
  • Faith in high-profile masterplanners
  • Antigone = neo classicalism on a grand scale in concrete (1980s) and now Parc Marianne
  • Creating a bipolar centre which eases pressure on the historic centre



(cc) David Olivari

Montpellier Antigone


  • Restored historic core (nearly all destroyed in 2WW)
  • Layout responsive to physical setting
  • Walkable suburbs – almost all within 20 mins walk of city centre
  • Good public transport
  • Culture of communal responsibility and tolerance
  • Green coalition politically – commitment to low energy lifestyle
  • Mixed tenure housing, lots of co-housing and cooperatives. City helps people form housing coops. Private sector raises it’s game because co-housing and self-building is such a good alternative. (Can also see this happening a bit around Cambridge, an audience member says)
  • Long-term leadership
  • Strong cross-border connections with France and Switzerland
  • Green space threaded throughout, lots of pedestrianised streets, corridors for fresh air from Black Forest to get into city – sense of public ownership of all space
  • City paid for basement layer to enable parking under houses which is expensive, then individuals/developers paid for the rest of the houses.


  • Prob oldest city in Europe – wonderful geographical location, which is why it’s survived so long
  • Substantial geological threats – major earthquake expected in next 10 years and 2m houses not earthquake proofed
  • Huge population growth, into areas which traditionally grow food. Huge scale of building programme.
  • History of adaption and survival
  • Investment in infrastructure

Saltaire has survived remarkably well. Bournville also still works well – 50% still rented. Newhall within Harlow is now being developed further with a focus on public spaces, live/work accommodation, good modern houses.


25th November 2016

Reproduction, Sexuality and Sexual Health research group symposium

Filed under: Uncategorized — rememberingmyhat @ 15:41
Tags: , , , ,

The Open University, Camden, London

My usual partial and incomplete liveblog from a seminar, focusing only on things I was particularly interested in, rather than a representation of what people actually said. Also, I forgot my laptop charger, so I’ve only got two hours of battery so I’ll probably not get to the afternoon sessions at all. You can see the whole programme here. [My own thoughts in square brackets like this].

Introduction to the conference: Alison Hadley, Univ of Bedfordshire

Entitlement to sexual health services services, although paid lip-service, isn’t enough to get services funded and commissioned – you have to demonstrate that there is a problem. And this then leads to services focussing on negative outcomes (avoiding teenage pregnancy, reducing STIs) and the only things that get counted are negative outcomes. Services don’t usually count positive outcomes (increased knowledge about sexual health, increased pleasure). We need measures and metrics for positive outcomes too.

Having the right targets is key – you should never have a target of X% uptake of long-acting reversible contraception (LARC) because that runs counter to the principle of choice.

Safeguarding has become the over-arching lens through which everything to do with young people’s sexuality is read. This distorts other important issues (pleasure, development, intimacy).


(cc) velo_city

Panel 1: Pleasure and intimacy

Ann Furedi, CEO of BPAS

Birth control, pleasure and intimacy: a matter of personal choice or public health?

Gone back to using the old-fashioned term ‘birth control’ because it covers both contraception and abortion and her sense is that young people increasingly see them as ends of a continuum. A less-effective contraception method with abortion as a back-up plan may be what people want, rather than LARCs.

If you frame it as women’s choice to have as few children as they want, or even, increasingly to have no children at all, you generally get quite a sympathetic response in the UK these days. But if you start talking about women’s choice to have as many children as they want, people start judging you – environmenal reasons about over-population are increasingly invoked for everyone [as well as older classist/racist ones] Marie Stopes racism and classism

Free contraception on the NHS is bound up on it being seen as a health issue. If you make it about women’s autonomy, does this become about risk?

Family ‘planning’ – but of course ‘unplanned’ doesn’t equate to ‘unwanted’.

Every service they have has an imposed target for LARC uptake from women who have had an abortion. What women want is entirely different. They are concerned about effectiveness but they are equally concerned about lack of side-effects (‘your erratic bleeding will settle down after about a year’ is not acceptable, especially to young people).

Me: Positive visions of queer ageing and sexual relationships

[A talk about my Imagining Bi Futures project, focusing on the positive visions].

Peter Keogh, Open University: Pleasure and intimacy in HIV research


(cc) Jo

First job in sexual health 25 years ago was ethnographic project on gay men and public sex – mostly about cottaging and cruising. Project was framed as ‘what is this weird behaviour, how can we stop it?’ No consideration that it might be fun. Pathologising framing of it as about sexual compulsivity and the ‘bisexual bridge’.

Trying to find out ‘who are the people who are really driving this epidemic’. Over the years, the groups that are thought to be driving the epidemic have changed, but the focus on identifying the problematic group has remained the same.

Folk devil 1 was cottagers

Folk devil 2: By about 1994 Backroom and super-saunas (as they opened up in London, especially). Focus on venues for sex, and whether some were more risky than others.

Folk devil 3: Internet users! For hook-ups.’Meaningless virtual sex’. Would lead to huge increase in number of sexual partners and somehow not ‘real’ sex – re-emergence of compulsivity and addiction framing.

Folk devil 4: Early 2000s onwards. Barebackers, bugchasers, seeders etc. Barebacking becoming an identity.

Folk devil 5: Sero-sorters (having sex only with people of the same HIV-status as yourself). This one comes from researchers – as an explanation of barebacking – it’s not reckless after all. But also taken up by communities as well as a way of promoting safer sex. But researcher’s then got worried about people acting on less than full knowledge ‘sero-guessing’ as a risk.

Folk devil 6: Now. Truvada whores – pre-exposure prophylactics –

Folk devil 7: Now. Chem sex

Two overall tendencies in all these stages

Pathologising – reckless, compulsive, in deinal, deluded, promiscuous

v. Rationalising – risk-taking, inventive, calculating, liberal, transcending social differences, sexually open

Can we move away from the latest hot topic and think more widely about the ways HIV has transformed sex for men, now that we are late in this epidemic?

Claire de Than, City University: Supporting the human right to have fun

Disabled people’s right to sex is being routinely denied by families and care homes [see the OU’s Sexuality Alliance for lots more resources on this especially in relation to people with life-limiting conditions].

Current plans for compulsory sex education for children explicitly exclude disabled people.

Cannot legally give sex education to deafblind adults (although can to deafblind children!)

Her summary:

Adult? Non-carer (of anyone in the room)? Can communicate (in whatever way)? Consenting? Has capacity? Private? All these present, it’s a human right to have sex. Anything missing? Possibly criminal, so check and work through the guidance.

Helping or supporting someone to do something that is their own choice (if they have capacity) is not a crime.

Biggest reasons needed changes haven’t  gone through in care services is the Daily Mail fear factor.

People think they have duty to protect vulnerable people from risk. But they don’t, they have a duty to protect them from known, real and immediate risk to life or safety. Most consensual sex doesn’t have these kinds of risks.

[Battery perilously low at the end of the morning, so no more from this].

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