Title

The occupation of divestiture: Belongings as a vehicle for identity maintenance, personal control and social connection as people age

Presenter Information

Elizabeth Hunter

Start Time

26-10-2007 11:45 AM

End Time

26-10-2007 1:45 PM

Abstract

The objects we surround ourselves with are more than just whims or impulses. What we value enough to protect, maintain and perhaps pass down is very significant in terms of who we are and what we believe. As a person ages, these items may become even more important and symbolically significant. By exploring the meaning of things and their potential importance in terms of adult development, maturation and identity maintenance the connection elders have with cherished possessions and the importance of maintaining these connections becomes clear. Thirty-nine women participated in this qualitative study exploring legacy transmission. Through the study it became clear that legacy was transmitted in three broad ways: through belongings, body (genetics, children and one's body) and being (one's values and beliefs). This presentation focuses on the theme of belongings. Four sub-themes emerged under the rubric of belongings, the dispersal of belongings via wills, heirlooms, cherished possessions and everyday possessions. Different types of belongings resulted in different divestiture behavior and plans. Culture, health and age all influenced those things found to be of particular importance for passing along one's identity and values. The theme related to belongings revealed that possessions help to maintain identity, to allow for an arena of control for individuals, and finally possessions can project an individual's sense of self, family and culture.

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Oct 26th, 11:45 AM Oct 26th, 1:45 PM

The occupation of divestiture: Belongings as a vehicle for identity maintenance, personal control and social connection as people age

The objects we surround ourselves with are more than just whims or impulses. What we value enough to protect, maintain and perhaps pass down is very significant in terms of who we are and what we believe. As a person ages, these items may become even more important and symbolically significant. By exploring the meaning of things and their potential importance in terms of adult development, maturation and identity maintenance the connection elders have with cherished possessions and the importance of maintaining these connections becomes clear. Thirty-nine women participated in this qualitative study exploring legacy transmission. Through the study it became clear that legacy was transmitted in three broad ways: through belongings, body (genetics, children and one's body) and being (one's values and beliefs). This presentation focuses on the theme of belongings. Four sub-themes emerged under the rubric of belongings, the dispersal of belongings via wills, heirlooms, cherished possessions and everyday possessions. Different types of belongings resulted in different divestiture behavior and plans. Culture, health and age all influenced those things found to be of particular importance for passing along one's identity and values. The theme related to belongings revealed that possessions help to maintain identity, to allow for an arena of control for individuals, and finally possessions can project an individual's sense of self, family and culture.