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‘We built this city’: Mobilities, urban livelihoods and social infrastructure in the lives of elderly Ghanaians

journal contribution
posted on 09.04.2019 by R. Wignall, K. McQuaid, Katherine Gough, James Esson
This article examines the experiences of an often-neglected population group in geographical scholarship, namely, elderly people living in African cities. Using qualitative research conducted in the Ghanaian cities of Accra and Sekondi-Takoradi, we demonstrate how investigating older people’s mobilities, and examining how they influence social and economic processes, has important implications for how agency in urban contexts is conceptualized. We do so using a novel analytical framework that combines mobilities and social infrastructure approaches to generate empirical insights that are more attuned to the spontaneity, heterogeneity, and informality of African urbanism as encountered by older residents. Our findings extend scholarship on ageing and urban studies in two key ways. First, we reveal the dispositions, practices and strategies older residents deploy as part of their efforts to navigate the urban terrain. Through doing so we qualify popular narratives in geography, and allied disciplines, of older people as either care givers or care receivers. Second, we further scholarship in urban studies which, while more considerate of insights from the majority world, especially the experiences of children and youth, has overlooked how older people are shaping urban dynamics in Africa.

Funding

This research is part of the ‘African Rural-City Connections’ (RurbanAfrica) research project. RurbanAfrica is funded by the European Union under the 7th Research Framework Programme (theme SSH), Grant Agreement no. 290732. More information can be found at: http://rurbanafrica.ku.dk/.

History

School

  • Social Sciences

Department

  • Geography and Environment

Published in

Geoforum

Volume

103

Pages

75-84

Citation

WIGNALL, R. ... et al, 2019. ‘We built this city’: Mobilities, urban livelihoods and social infrastructure in the lives of elderly Ghanaians. Geoforum, 103, pp.75-84.

Publisher

Elsevier

Version

AM (Accepted Manuscript)

Publisher statement

This work is made available according to the conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) licence. Full details of this licence are available at: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/

Acceptance date

28/03/2019

Publication date

2019-05-10

Copyright date

2019

ISSN

0016-7185

Language

en

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