Lund University

Vanessa Stjernborg is a Ph.D. student on the department of Technology and Society, Transport and Roads, Lund University. She is here a part of the competence centre Traffic Environment for Older and Disabled Persons. She has a master’s degree in social sciences with cultural geography as her main subject. Vanessa Stjernborg’s research area is mainly the everyday life mobility of older persons and she is working with her dissertation “Gerontomobilities: the Everyday Life Mobility of Older People.”

Urban Gerontomobilities? A Case Study of Ageing in a Deprived Neighbourhood in Sweden

The elderly population in western countries is growing and one large challenge is creating opportunities for their mobility in order to avoid social isolation and enhance the quality of life. Concurrently, safety and security issues are often regarded as fundamental for a neighbourhood to reach social sustainability. Features as fear and insecurity can work limiting on the mobility and elderly are often regarded especially vulnerable. There are however several gaps in the research of elderly related to urban neighbourhoods. The intention with this project is therefore to gain a deeper understanding of everyday life mobilities of older persons living in a deprived neighbourhood in Sweden.

Study district is an inner-city neighbourhood in Malmö in south of Sweden. Malmö is, besides a modern, expanding and dynamic city, a city struggling with severe problems of segregation. The neighbourhood is ethnically segregated and is facing major social challenges. The area has been extremely exposed in media foremost with focus on criminality, drugs and youths.

The term ‘gerontomobilities’ is a product of the illuminated shortcomings in both transport research and the research of environmental gerontology, and is about the older person’s resources and capacities to stay mobile in everyday life. The theoretical base lies foremost in the theories of mobilities and the new ‘mobilities paradigm.’ Furthermore, mobile methods are about reaching wholeness and the study is an ethnographic case study which has been accomplished during one year, 2012. During this year the researcher has been attending activities arranged for the elderly in the neighbourhood almost every week. Semi-structured interviews and analysis of newspaper articles have been conducted as well. Results show a special group, here called urban elderly, which tries to adapt to life in the neighbourhood.