Global environmental change in an aging world: The role of space, place and scale
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'Space' and 'aging in place' are central concepts in the geography of aging. Yet little geographic work compares aging across or within places globally, with a virtual disregard to aging in low and middle income countries. With aging now an axiomatic backdrop for research and policy on 21st century populations, this paper explores how space and place are used in theory and practice within the geography of aging. Drawing from literature within the discipline, this paper discusses how space and place are often theorized as dichotomies - conceptualized as macro space and micro place. This results in the neglect of multiscalar processes that shape aging dynamics globally. While the geographies of aging have become a substantive discipline within human geography writ large, the full repertoire of geographical concepts has yet to be applied within the sub discipline. In order for the discipline to reflect current and emerging global aging dynamics, the paper advocates how and why engagement with scale is needed on two interrelated fronts. First, we propose the need to scale out, illuminating the diversity of aging in global regions undergoing profoundly diverse demographic transitions. Second, we propose the need to scale up, connecting processes across micro place and macro space, bearing in mind all global regions. Engaging questions of scale would elucidate how 'aging in place' is informed by multiple relational dynamics, operating across innumerable scales worldwide. This would reposition 'aging in place' as a fluid process shaped by factors across scales. Drawing fully on geography's conceptual repertoire would immeasurably strengthen sub-disciplinary substantive knowledge, theoretical knowledge, and policy relevance. The paper concludes with a discussion of these shifts in scale for aging research, emphasizing the need for geographic (aging and health sub disciplines) and related social science research.
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