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The paradoxes of gerotranscendence: The theory of gerotranscendence in a cultural gerontological and post-modernist perspective

Author(s): Kirsten Thorsen

Journal: Norsk Epidemiologi
ISSN 0803-2491

Volume: 8;
Issue: 2;
Date: 2009;
Original page

 ABSTRACTThis article presents a theoretical analysis and discussion of the theory of gerotranscendence, formulatedby Lars Tornstam (University of Uppsala, Sweden). The theory is presented as a meta-theory ofageing, as a theory of universal and general ageing processes. Ageing is seen as an urge (a drive)towards a less engaged posititon in the wordly life, moving towards a higher degree of transcendence,with a more cosmic outlook and another definition of reality. In this article the theory is discussed fromanother theoretical position; Ageing seen in a cultural gerontological perspective, as a varied culturallyand historically situated phenomenon – differing in different times and different cultures. The theoreticalperspective underlines that ageing is complex dialectical processes, an intertwined interplay betweenindividual development and cultural change. The varied individual ageing processes are not seenas the result of «drives». In Western post-modern cultures the ageing processes are becoming manifold,often contradictory. Elderly present versions of the selves that are becoming complex, multiplied (multipleselves), acting at different scenes, stamped by varied cultural values, presenting mixed versions ofactivity and passivity, engagement and retractment, wordliness and transcendence.Key words:  Ageing theories; gerotranscendence; cultural gerontology; postmodernism
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