Narrative foreclosure in later life: Preliminary considerations for a new sensitizing concept

Ernst Thomas Bohlmeijer, Gerben Johan Westerhof, W. Randall, T. Tromp, G. Kenyon

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38 Citations (Scopus)
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Abstract

The objective of the paper is to explore narrative foreclosure as a sensitizing concept for studying the ways in which narrative identity development falters in later life. Two main characters in famous movies are contrasted to provide a better understanding of narrative foreclosure. The concept is further clarified by discussing similarities and differences with other theories about lifespan identity development. Last, the concept is related to theories in social gerontology to provide a better understanding of narrative foreclosure in later life. It is concluded that narrative foreclosure can be defined as the conviction that no new interpretations of one's past nor new commitments and experiences in one's future are possible that can substantially change one's life-story. In terms of the metaphor of a book, one is not only convinced about its ending and does not add new chapters anymore, but also refrains from enjoying, rewriting, and editing earlier chapters. Several interpersonal–social and structural–ideological factors are identified that promote narrative foreclosure in later life. Finally it is discussed that the narrative study of later life and of narrative foreclosure in particular, should be conducted in an interdisciplinary framework. Narrative foreclosure only exists within a certain constellation of personal, social, and societal characteristics, drawn together in a mutually dependent system
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)364-370
JournalJournal of aging studies
Volume25
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2011

Keywords

  • IR-86406
  • METIS-281414

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