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Aging in Twentieth-Century Britain$
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Charlotte Greenhalgh

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780520298781

Published to California Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520298781.001.0001

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Talking with Peter Townsend

Talking with Peter Townsend

Elderly Britons at Home

(p.46) Chapter Two Talking with Peter Townsend
Aging in Twentieth-Century Britain

Charlotte Greenhalgh

University of California Press

The family lives of elderly people attracted fresh concern in the postwar years when more old people lived alone and used welfare services. Sociologist Peter Townsend spent many hours speaking with each of 203 interviewees when he researched the topic in East London in 1954–1955. Townsend highlighted ignored contributions of older people to family life. He showed that families, not the state, did the real work of aged care. During interviews, older people told life stories that illustrated their hard work and stoicism, and that challenged sociological theories. Most did not fear death, but only the suffering of loved ones. While a few could not find the words, the majority were confident storytellers: this chapter explores their unpublished stories.

Keywords:   Peter Townsend, interviews, working class, postwar, home, family, health, retirement, marriage, widowhood

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