Document Type



Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence


Social sciences

Publication Details

Irish Journal of Sociology, 20 (1), pp. 84-102. 2012.


This paper presents an analysis of the connectedness of older people in two sample areas, one urban and one rural in Ireland. The paper is based on a study of the communal participation of older people in two geographic localities, Rathmore, a suburban area of Dublin, and Rathbeg, a rural area in County Donegal, conducted between 2000 and 2005. A multi stage study that used both qualitative and quantitative methods examined significant communal interactions of older people across a range of arenas, including leisure interests, involvement in clubs, religious practices, voluntary work, relationships with kin, friends and neighbours, helping activities, use of social services and informal interactions in neighbourhoods and other communal settings. The paper describes their experiences of connectedness, explains how older people co-create and sustain communal ties and explores the significance of social practices and social groupings involved. The study demonstrated that among a diverse group of older adults engagement with others outside one’s immediate family was a significant source of satisfaction and meaning in life. It provided evidence that place-based friendships are important contexts for the development of collective solidarities and transformative relationships. The paper underlines the contribution of older people to the lives of others, and argues that community should be understood as involving both place and type of relationship instead of a symbolic attachment to identities. The policy implications of the findings are also briefly considered.