Ageing bodies, technological shifts - retired fire fighters and the embodied implications of instrumental development by Jennie Olofsson

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A presentation by Jennie Olofsson at the BSA Futures of Ageing Conference held on 19 July 2010 at the British Library Conference Centre, London, UK.

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Ageing bodies, technological shifts - retired fire fighters and the embodied implications of instrumental development by Jennie Olofsson

  1. 1. <ul><li>Ageing bodies, technological shifts – retired fire fighters and the embodied implications of instrumental development. </li></ul><ul><li>[email_address] </li></ul><ul><li>www.ltu.se </li></ul>
  2. 2. MSB (Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency) <ul><li>coordinates the structure for the Swedish civil emergency planning. ”The task of the MSB is to enhance and support societal capacities for preparedness for and prevention of emergencies and crises.” </li></ul><ul><li>is divided into three agencies of which the Swedish Rescue Agency is one. </li></ul><ul><li>For more information, please visit http://www.msb.se/en/About-MSB/ </li></ul>
  3. 3. The project Gender and Rescue Service <ul><li>takes place in collaboration with the Swedish Rescue Agency. </li></ul><ul><li>engages around twenty researchers from four universities in Sweden </li></ul><ul><li>is estimated to run between the years of 2010 and 2013 </li></ul><ul><li>The purpose is to change the working conditions within the Swedish rescue services, from male dominated working sites to more gender equal organizations that mirror socety in large. </li></ul>
  4. 4. <ul><li>” The MSB is pushing forward and supporting municipalities in their efforts to increase the number of women in local fire brigades, as well as the number of individuals of a non-Nordic ethnicity. Currently only a couple of percent of Swedish firefighters are women, and even fewer are of non-Nordic ethnicity.” </li></ul><ul><li>http://www.msb.se/Upload/English/About_MSB_fact/Development%20of%20equality%20and%20diversity%20in%20municipal%20fire%20brigades.pdf.pdf </li></ul>
  5. 5. The research proposals <ul><li>Generational discrepancies among fire fighters are pivotal in order to understand the pofession as labelled male. </li></ul><ul><li>Ageing is a socio-material ( Østerberg 1998) process. </li></ul>
  6. 6. A contradictory breeding ground <ul><li>Age is a negation of masculinity (Thompson 1994) </li></ul><ul><li>Age, at least when it comes to men, is often equated to experience, growth and maturity (Sandberg 2007) </li></ul>
  7. 7. The current proposal <ul><li>Processes of ageing at once frustrate and endorse constructions of masculinity </li></ul>
  8. 8. Collection of empirical material <ul><li>Interviews with retired fire fighters in the city of Luleå (the veterans of the local fire brigade) </li></ul><ul><li>Participation in the weekly gatherings of my informants. </li></ul>
  9. 9. Conveying masculinity - story telling and comemoration <ul><li>Through acts of story telling the retired fire fighters conflated age and experience, which in turn allowed them to enjoy a crucial position at the local fire brigade despite the fact that they were no longer active as fire fighters </li></ul>
  10. 10. Technological use <ul><li>1950 </li></ul><ul><li>Ladders equipped with manual cranks </li></ul><ul><li>Manual water pumps </li></ul><ul><li>Fire engines equipped with 80 – 90 HP </li></ul><ul><li>2000 </li></ul><ul><li>Hydraulic ladders </li></ul><ul><li>GPS </li></ul><ul><li>Fire engines equipped with 400 HP, automatic transmissions and power-assisted steering </li></ul>
  11. 11. <ul><li>The generational differences within the fire brigade of Luleå are intimately linked to utility of professional equipment. </li></ul><ul><li>Adequate use of technology serves to conflate age and experience </li></ul>
  12. 12. Continued inqueries: <ul><li>to further explore the ways in which my informants’ position as experienced fire fighters is upheld as they get older. </li></ul><ul><li>to specifically attend to how age, the use of tools and spatial occupation is crucial in order to retain (or attain) the position as an experienced fire fighter. </li></ul>

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