KWI – Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities (Kulturwissenschaftliches Intitut Essen, KWI)

Research areas

Project Active Ageing – Migration – Biography

Research coordinator: Dr. des. Thea D. Boldt-Jaremko
Research assistant: Eva Schwab

Funded by: Ministry for Health, Equalities, Care and Ageing of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany
Duration: 08/2010 - 03/2011

European societies are currently urged to face the challenge of the demographic change. We have to acknowledge the fact that at times of declining birth-rate the average life expectancy in Europe is constantly increasing. In this context many social, political and scientific questions have to be raised anew.

One set of these questions is connected with the multicultural consistency of the ageing European societies. Taking the prognosis into account that the inner and cross-national migration will increase in the future and that the total amount of elderly migrants in Europe is continuously increasing makes the great relevance of the topic for the sustainability of European societies plausible. In this context we argue that it is necessary to focus on the biographical resources of elderly people with migration background.

This project aims to give an overview of the existing regional, national and international research literature on the interface between the phenomenon of active ageing, migration and biography in order to identify the research desideratum and formulate research questions for further scientific studies. Especially with regard to the concept of active ageing the biographical meaning of the transition to pension as turning point shall be focused on.

In the state of the arts report it shall be explored whether and how the existing research literature takes into account which biographical concepts and everyday life strategies elderly women and men with migration background pursue, which needs, hopes and attitudes are connected to the biography in the advanced age and in the frame of which social and historical contexts are they produced. Subsequently, it has to be asked which linkages are constructed biographically between migration and integration experiences and how these influence the biographical transition to the advanced age. Against this backdrop, the question of the participation of elderly migrants in the voluntary work can be raised. Which biographical motives and motivations play a role in the voluntary work and how are these connected to institutionalized and everyday integration processes? And last but not least, what is the meaning of the active engagement in the voluntary work for the migrants to overcome the turning point and to cope with the process of ageing? These and other research questions shall be developed on the basis of the state of the arts report and shall be discussed at a workshop that assembles pertinent international scholars in the fields of biographical, migration, integration, multiculturality and gerontology research. The results of the workshop will be published in a collective volume.

This project perceives the migrants as active agents that use their biographical and cultural resources in order to actively shade the process of ageing. It wants to contribute to the inclusion of the life experience of elderly people to the mainstream of societal knowledge production. It pursues a perspective that regards migrants as enrichment and not as a problem of European societies.