Despite the fact that within family sociology, intimacy in post-modern society is often talked about as being free from the procreational function and thereby not limited to a certain period of life, and despite the fact that in social gerontology, it is often claimed that the addition of healthy years to one's life has created a third age of enlightenment in which intimate relations can play an important role, very little research (either in Sweden or internationally) has taken an interest in new intimate relations in old age and the role these play in the lives of the elderly, either in Sweden or internationally.
This despite changed demographical conditions where people live longer and new generations with potentially new values reach a very old age.
In Sweden today there are just over a million single people (unmarried, divorced, widows/widowers) aged 60+, the majority of these women, and the proportion of elderly divorcees is on the increase.
The aim of this proposed project is to study expectations of, attitudes toward and experiences of new intimate relations in old age, based on a nationally representative, stratified selection of 3000 60-90 year-olds. We will examine the overall picture of this in the elderly population in general and in various groups defined by gender, class, stage in life, sexual orientation, degree of urbanity and history of intimacy. The study will illustrate the role that new relations play in elderly people's quality of life, and provide ideas on how support structures for elderly people may look in post-modern society.
Peter Öberg, University of Gävle, Faculty of Health and Occupational Studies, Department of Social Work and Psychology
Torbjörn Bildgård, Stockholm
Lars Tornstam, Uppsala