Researchers undertook a small pilot study to investigate how older people think and talk about human rights. The study used a discussion group methodology and made comparisons between two groups of older people who identified themselves as activists or non-activists.
The study worked with two groups of older people, activist and non-activist, and met with each group three times over a period of two months between February and April 2008. Research findings were published in a report in October 2008.
The research team wanted to explore what the concept of human rights meant to older people and the language that they used when talking about it.
Society has changed towards a rights-based rather than a needs-based frame of understanding and has moved towards more consumerist approaches to care and services. The team was keen to find out whether older people feel comfortable with these shifts.
Being aware of significant activism within the older people’s movement the team also wished to consider any differences in the views on human rights between how those who defined themselves as activist within older people’s issues, and those who did not.
Groups were encouraged to discuss human rights in the context of issues like: pensions and housing, care and health, technology and transport and empowerment and discrimination. Discussions were analysed in two ways. Researchers conducted a themed analysis on five areas:
The project enabled reflection on the differences between the two groups, the participants’ experience and potential areas for further work.
Professor Marian Barnes
Professor Paul Stenner
Barnes, M, Smith, N and Stenner, P (2008) So what do human rights mean to you? A study of how older people think and talk about human rights. SSPARC, University of Brighton, Brighton.