Wray, Sharon (2005) Making sense of mid-life: Women, ethnicity and culture. In: The British Sociological Association Annual Conference, 23rd March 2005, University of York. (Unpublished)

Middle age, with its connotations of decline and disengagement, is often referred to as 'mid-life', a shifting category that is not simply
defined by chronological age. It has been argued that individual perceptions and experiences of mid-life are influenced by the growth of a
new consumerism specifically targeting this age group (Featherstone and Hepworth, 1991). This is evident in the proliferation of
consumer products that claim to 'fight' the ageing process through diet, cosmetics, exercise and other forms of intervention. It is often
assumed that those defined as mid-life have a strong desire to remain 'youthful' in outlook and /or appearance and avoid growing older.
Although this may be the case for some individuals, it is equally likely that what is prioritised during this life stage will differ according to
previous life events, class position and cultural and ethnic affiliation. Hence an argument of this paper is that instead of celebrating
ideologies of difference, such a position tends to overlook the complex meanings attached to mid-life and how these are often bound up
with past, current and future ethnic and cultural belief systems and values. Based on empirical research, with mid-life women from
diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds, this paper seeks to examine the different meanings women attach to mid-life and how these are
connected to previous life events and differences in ethnic and cultural background.