Dr. Alison HerbertResearch Affiliate, University of Galway

Dr. Alison Herbert is a Research Affiliate with the Irish Centre for Social Gerontology at the Institute for Lifecourse and Society in the University of Galway. Alison researches older rural women and diverse relationships with rural place and ageing.


Herbert, Alison (2024) What Is the Relationship between Remote Rural Island Place and Perspectives on Ageing of Mid-life Women? Journal of Social Studies https://journals.muni.cz/socialni_studia/issue/view/2603

Herbert, Alison (2021) ‘Why older rural women in Ireland want to work: it’s not all about the money’. Ageing and Society, 1-23. doi:10.1017/S0144686X21001501. https://www.cambridge.org/core/services/aop-cambridge-core/content/view/55424E5B58CBB7B3199298D394E57427/S0144686X21001501a.pdf/why-older-rural-women-in-ireland-want-to-work-its-not-all-about-the-money.pdf

Herbert, A (2020) ‘What Role Does Rural Place Play in the Lives of Mid-Life Women in Sweden and Ireland?’. Societies Journal [http://hdl.handle.net/10379/16294] (doi: 10.3390/soc10040084)

Herbert, A (2018) ‘Social exclusion and inclusion of mid-life women in rural Ireland: exploring social relationships and space’. Journal of Social Studies (https://journals.muni.cz/socialni_studia/index)

Doctoral thesis (2017) ‘What are the perspectives on ageing of mid-life women in rural Ireland?’ PhD, NUI Galway. [Available at: http://hdl.handle.net/10379/6312]

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Careers to date include: research, teaching, public relations, journalism.

27th Nordic Congress of Gerontology in Stockholm, Sweden, June 12-14, 2024

Ageing WITH Place: What is the relationship between ageing and therapeutic landscape amongst mid-life women in rural Sweden, Ireland and Scotland

This research examines the natural environment as therapeutic landscape alongside the ageing of mid-life rural women. The concept of ageing ‘with or alongside place’ has received less academic attention than that of ageing ‘in place’ within the home but is equally worthy of further exploration.

Three distinct studies over separate time periods of 2013-2021 were conducted within selected rural areas of Sweden, Ireland and Scotland to explore the relationship between the natural environment and the ageing of older women. Qualitative data from face-to-face interviews were gathered and analysed from a lifecourse perspective and informed by constructivist grounded theory.

Findings from these three studies extend existing narrative on the relationship between perspectives on ageing and the natural environment. Whilst the research sites of these studies are all rural, nuanced socio-demographic and geographic differences exist that produce deep participant diversity on ageing and the natural environment as therapeutic landscape. Overall, the natural environment was perceived as a positive, therapeutic contributor to ageing, but from different perspectives, for which three descriptors have been created. Ten participants of Värmland in Sweden viewed therapeutic landscape from a ‘utilitarian’ perspective, 25 participants of Connemara in Ireland from a ‘pragmatic’ perspective, and 12 participants in the Outer Hebridean islands of Scotland from an ‘aesthetic’ perspective.

Such diversity of perspective is important to note as it suggests that mid-life rural women use their rural environments differently over the lifecourse and follow culturally heterogeneous pathways towards ageing. The influence of therapeutic landscape on women at mid-life needs to be more fully understood by academia and policy in order to foster positive gendered rural ageing with place.

Hear Alison talk more about this research