A Sense of the Sacred
Altering or Enhancing the Self-Portrait in Older Age?
Fifty white and 12 African-American elderly, middle class women were interviewed regarding their life history, self-concept and financial circumstances. The middle class women were a contrast group to women living in poverty. The latter was the focus group for the research project, "Chronic Poverty and the Self in Later Life." Using two case studies (1 from each middle class group), the women's spirituality was explored through their narratives. The study shows that aspiration to middle class norms, such as financial security and acquiring the accouterments of success, holds a complex relationship to a spiritual worldview. Spirituality meshed with the family, work and volunteer oriented lives of the women. Themes of gender were complexly interwoven into women's spirituality. Material acquisitions and financial success remained important to the women interviewed. Age did not lessen a need for, or enjoyment of "things" in the women's lives. (Ethnographic narration, Older women's identity, "Middle-class" spirituality)
Published online: 17 April 2000