What links personal narrative and the individual identity and how are they connected to collective levels of narrative and identity? The case study for this ethnographic work is a group of thirty older people from a prestigious Retirement Country Club on the Gold Coast in Queensland Australia. Relatively advantaged older people are a socio-economic group under-represented in past studies of this kind despite the fact they have a wealth of accumulated stories.
Using Social Constructionist notions of life narrative and aspiring to a personal immersion of sorts in the research community's life, I collected personal narratives from participants and observed social practices and milieus. With these I sought to understand from the participants' perspectives the integral role of varied narrative forms in the construction, reconstruction, and conveyance of personal, social, and collective identities. The reflexive nature of the study produces another narrative - mine, as researcher.
The distinct and discrete character of the chosen research location facilitates an intimate study of the 'aged identity' and the personal narratives of older people on three levels: the personal, the communal and the wider societal. Specific identities and particular narratives of older people offer insight into an 'aged identity', ameliorated in this sample by economic advantage. A sense of changing attitudes toward the ageing process emerges from the stories - both the individual and the collective - across the three levels of research, driven by factors like advancing technology and shifting demographics. The personal stories herein reveal changing social status as crucial to the aged identity and well-being of older people, and the manner in which they used personal narratives - stories - to reconcile and manage these changes.
Understanding the way in which this process contributes to their social status, both individual and collective, and the manner in which individual stories influence cultural narratives contributes to the body of knowledge on ageing processes.