in Deprived Neighbourhoods:
Social Exclusion and Quality of Life in Old Age
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The concept of social exclusion has emerged as an
important theme in recent social policy debates. Growing interest
in social exclusion reflects not only the deepening of social
inequalities over the course of the 1980s and 1990s, but also
the growing marginalisation of particular social groups (for example,
the long-term unemployed) and areas (for example, inner cities
and outer city estates). Since 1997, tackling the causes and consequences
of social exclusion has become a key concern for central and local
government in the United Kingdom.
A central focus of social exclusion debates concerns
loss of access to important life chances, especially those that
connect individuals to the mainstream of society. In later life,
the dangers of social exclusion potentially become even more pronounced.
However, despite recognition of such dangers, older people have
largely been neglected in policy responses to social exclusion.
In particular, social policy has failed to address the spatial
dimensions of social exclusion affecting older people. In this
respect, older people living in socially deprived neighbourhoods
may be even more prone to poverty and social exclusion than other
groups within the older population. Moreover, the impact of living
in such areas upon the quality of life of older people is unclear.
Against this background, this project seeks to examine
both the processes which may contribute to social exclusion in
later life (for example, lifelong poverty, poor health, biographical
factors) and the conditions of social exclusion (for example,
poor quality housing, social isolation, limited social participation,
restricted access to a range of goods and services). The study
will identify the implications for social policy of such factors.
Aims and Objectives
The study aims to:
The research draws upon existing studies of neighbourhood
deprivation. In order to account for regional variations, and
to ensure generalisability of findings, the study will be conducted
in three geographical areas: Liverpool, Newham (East London) and
Manchester. These areas have been chosen on the basis of their
rankings in the 1998 Index of Local Deprivation. To account for
the uneven distribution of deprivation within local authority
areas, fieldwork will be undertaken in the three most deprived
wards in each locality. Both primary and secondary data will be
collected in each study location.
The analysis of existing sources of data, at district
and ward level, will provide a means of comparing the circumstances
of older people in the study areas with those of the older population
as a whole. This analysis will provide important information about
socio-economic conditions, and health and social care needs in
the study areas.
In addition, information will be collected from
a representative sample of older people living in the selected
study communities. Quantitative data will be generated by face-to-face
interviews with 600 people aged 60 and over (200 in each district)
using a structured questionnaire. The survey will gather, first,
socio-demographic data about the circumstances of older people
living in areas of concentrated poverty; and, second, specific
information on the experiences of deprivation within a community
context. The survey will be followed up by in-depth interviews
with 90 older people (30 in each district). This part of the research
will give greater emphasis, first, to exploring older peopleās
views about quality of life in deprived areas; and, second, to
assessing the cumulative impact on individuals of exposure to
disadvantage across the lifecourse.
This research has a direct bearing upon important
current issues in health and social policy and practice. A significant
outcome from the project will be an assessment of the nature of
social exclusion specifically in relation to old age.
The study will generate reliable and generalisable
information about the social and economic circumstances
of a population group (people aged 60 and over living in
deprived neighbourhoods) about which policy-makers and planners
know relatively little.
||In the context of debates about
social exclusion, the research will address ways in which
older people living in deprived communities experience social
exclusion. Not only will the research illuminate the processes
which contribute to exclusion in later life, and the conditions
of social exclusion, but it will also reveal the extent to
which older people are actively engaged in challenging the
consequences of deprivation at a neighbourhood level.
||The research will explore the meaning
of 'quality of life' for people living in such communities
from the perspective of the individual. This should be relevant
in improving policy measures which seek to enhance quality
||The study will deliver information
that can be used to make policy more responsive to the needs
of older citizens.