Time to spare: Everyday activities among newly retired people in a middle-sized city

Marianne Abramsson
Jan-Erik Hagberg

Retirement has recently been studied as a complex process that affects people’s lives in many different ways (Teuscher 2010; Grenier 2011; Halleröd, Örestig and Stattin 2013). Retirement implies changes in time-space use, interruption in routines and changed social patterns. Leisure activities, shopping, errands and rest are no longer determined by the working life rhythm. New time-space constraints might at the same time occur that limit the individual’s actions, such as reduced income, new or increased commitments towards children and grandchildren, involvement in associations or part-time work (Kleiber and Nimrod, 2009; Szinovacz et al., 2001; Van den Bogaard et al., 2013).

A vast amount of research from different fields has focused on the implications of retirement for wellbeing (Bender 2012; Wang 2007), adjustment (Van Solinge and Henkens 2008), identity (Teucher 2010), volunteering (Van den Bogaard et.al., 2013) and physical activity (Lahti et al. 2011). So far, only a few studies have investigated everyday activities and timespace use among older people in general and the post-World War II generation in particular (Chatzitheochari and Arber 2011; Gauthier and Smeeding 2003). In many studies of  time-space use, the aim has been to illuminate the juggling of everyday activities that occurs and to deal with the balance between work, leisure and family (Schwanen and de Jong 2008; Kwan 2000; Scholten, Friberg and Sanden 2012). Naturally, retired people have not been included in those studies, although many older people play an important role in the lives of families with small children (Schwanen 2008) and seek supporting and leading roles as citizens (cf. Gagliardi, et al. 2007; Leinonen 2011; Liechty, Yarnal and Kerstetter 2012; McCormack et al. 2008; Nimrod and Adoni 2006; Sperazza and Banerjee 2010). Little is known about the expectations this generation has on retirement and its demands for activities. The aim of this study is therefore to explore newly retired peoples everyday activities. What activities do they take part in and where are these activities carried out? In what respect, and for what reasons, do activities change or stay the same upon retirement?

The remaining of this paper begins with a discussion of the implications of retirement on everyday activities in accordance to previous research. The time-geographical perspective and concepts used here for studying activities is then presented. That is followed by a description of methods, data and analysis, before the empirical analysis of travel diaries and qualitative interviews is given. The paper ends with a discussion of the results in relation to previous research.

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