Older men's participation in community life: Notions of social capital, health, and empowerment

Judith Sixsmith (Lead / Corresponding author), Margaret Boneham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


This article presents findings from a U.K. Health Development Agency project on the relationship between social capital, health, and gender. This was a qualitative case study of a socially deprived community involving interviews with 77 community members. Of these, 39 men took part, including 18 older men. For these older men, community life was constructed around health, family, and employment status. The deterioration of their health status necessitated renegotiation of their sense of manhood within the context of community decline. Many failed to participate in community life, feeling physically vulnerable, undervalued, and socially and psychologically disempowered. Moreover, mistrust of young men on the estate, together with perceived dominance of older women in community spaces, excluded the men from venues affording them the potential to develop social capital. For the few who did participate in community life, informal helping of neighbors was more common than collective action, thereby developing the capacity for building social networks, albeit on a limited basis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)372-388
Number of pages17
JournalAgeing International
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2003

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