The Grey Nomad phenomenon: Changing the script of aging

Publication Type:
Journal Article
International Journal of Aging and Human Development, 2007, 64 (4), pp. 381 - 398
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This article explores a relatively new and little understood phenomenon, that of the Australian Grey Nomads. Every year increasing numbers of older Australians take to the road. This article explores the phenomenon both empirically and theoretically. A grounded approach is used by which the experience is explored from an ethnographic account involving interviews with some 400 travelers, including in-depth taped interviews with 26 traveling groups. The data is analyzed and discussed in terms of "Ulyssean" aging. The Ulyssean lifestyle requires the freedom to pursue personal choice and new, personally risky experience. Issues of health, personal development, and social networks are discussed in relation to the literature on aging. In particular, it is argued that the Grey Nomad phenomenon fundamentally challenges the dominant decline model of aging. It presents a picture instead of these older Australians taking active and very positive control of their lives, regardless of financial and health conditions. In doing so, they are rewriting the dominant social script for aging. © 2007, Baywood Publishing Co., Inc.
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