Crime, disorder, and territorial stigmatization: Older adults living in deprived neighborhoods

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BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: The existence of social problems, crime, and a diminishing sense of community are acknowledged challenges to residents of deprived neighborhoods. In research on deprived neighborhoods in Sweden, the perspectives of young residents and adults of working age dominate. This study explores how older adults in deprived neighborhoods in Sweden experience crime and disorder, and how they adapt and respond to these problems and the neighborhood's poor reputation.

RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 22 older adults who had lived five years or more in deprived areas of two cities in Sweden. Data were analyzed using Hirschman's theory of exit, voice, loyalty with a thematic analysis.

RESULTS: Most residents had positive things to say about their homes and neighborhoods, even if criminal acts such as shootings, drug dealing, arson, burglary, and knife attacks were part of everyday life. The residents attempted to manage these events with various strategies. Exit strategies included relocation and forms of adaptation and detachment. They used several voice strategies to actively try to solve the problems and engage with the community. Loyalty strategies-and relativizing-were used to defend their neighborhood reputation.

DISCUSSION AND IMPLICATIONS: The findings show we should move on from generalized notions of older adults as passive victims of their environment and highlight that some older adults are active agents in building communities in deprived neighborhoods. City improvement programs should extend support to older adults who wish to engage. Approaches are identified which may strengthen older adults' contributions in such neighborhoods.

TidskriftThe Gerontologist
StatusE-pub ahead of print - 2022

Bibliografisk information

© The Author(s) 2022. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The Gerontological Society of America.

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