Wray, Sharon (2004) What constitutes agency and empowerment for women in later life? Toward the development of a culturally sensitive theoretical framework to examine ageing. The sociological review, 52 (1). pp. 22-38. ISSN 0038-0261

Ageing ‘successfully’ in western society has often been associated with material issues relating to declining health, social care and welfare. Indeed, it has been suggested that these topics have dominated the study of ageing leading to overly pessimistic
accounts of later life (Phillipson, 1998). It is also the case that the concepts used to measure agency and empowerment, such as autonomy and in/dependence,
are often uncritically understood and applied from a Western (British/American)standpoint. Here success is associated with individual potential, or the ability to
adapt to the ‘challenges’ of growing older. Ultimately, this means that culturally diverse interpretations and experiences of what constitutes agency and empowerment,
that may challenge such an account, are rendered invisible. In response, this paper examines and reflects upon the meanings that older women from different ethnic backgrounds give to agency and empowerment in later life. The empirical
accounts discussed in the paper suggest that the meanings attached to autonomy, independence and agency and empowerment are contextually based.

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