Aging embodiment and the somatic work of getting into and out of a car Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • This study examines the embodied realities and sensory experience of vehicle ingress and egress from the point of view of older drivers. In-depth interviews were conducted with 15 women and three men, aged 57-81, and followed by ride-a-longs whereby the researcher observed participants in interaction with their automobile. Using the perspective of phenomenological gerontology and the concept of somatic work (Vannini, Waskul, & Gottschalk, 2012), older drivers are conceptualized as simultaneously sensing and making sense of somatic experience evoked by aging embodiment and the bodily movements required of entry and exit into an automobile. It is argued that older drivers acquire a sensory auto-biography of incorporated bodily memory regarding vehicle morphology and texture in their past and current life, which informs embodied capacities of movement, awareness, and response relative to practical knowledge about what is attainable (or unattainable) for a sensuous older body. Through reflective and reflexive engagement with the sensory realm and material world, participants report structuring their lives through the haptics of touch, adoption of somatic rules, consumerist practices, as well as, specialized bodily movements and footwork sequences to ensure safety and comfort when using their automobile.

publication date

  • January 2016