Doing Change and Continuity. Age identity and the micro-macro divide

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


This paper is a study of the discursive management of notions of change and
continuity in interview talk. It presents selected short empirical examples from
interviews with 22 Finnish baby-boomers, and discusses the methodological and
theoretical issues that arise. Following a review of the major approaches to the
study of age identity, the analytic intersection between qualitative gerontology
and discursive psychology is explored. The analysis identifies how the frequent
use of a ‘provisional continuity device’ enables speakers simultaneously both to
acknowledge and to distance themselves from factual notions of physical or
psychological lifespan change. The key methodological argument is that the dis-
cursive analysis of age-in-interaction cannot necessarily be achieved through the
myopic micro-study of discursive strategies, but rather two suggestions are made.
First, it is argued that analytically-anchored and rigorous discursive gerontology
that both systematically draws on and contributes to the broad field of discursive
research provides a means by which to test empirically post-modern concep-
tualisations of age identity. Second, it is suggested that analyses of age-talk
in everyday and institutional settings provide an analytical and theoretical
middle-ground between the macro versus micro or ‘microfication’ debate in
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)863-881
Number of pages18
Publication statusPublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • age identity, baby-boom cohort, provisional continuity device, discursive gerontology, micro and macro, microfication. Introduction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)


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