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Ageing, Social Roles and Norms


Thu 27. 8.  11:00 - 12:30
room FA 204

The specifics of "Carnival space" – description of the intimate customs and social life of elderly in sanatoria


Szczepankowska, Urszula Anna
University of Warsaw, Poland

Behavioural aspects themselves generates ever more interest among researchers active in various areas of learning. In Polish research literature, contemporary customs are still presented in a fragmentary manner. I am of the impression that in Poland only marginal interest is evoked by intimate customs of older people. While the sexual and emotional life of senior citizens, particularly set in the context of life-span psychology is a popular topic of research, in Poland this aspect of life of the elder social group still continues to be taboo. In this paper I’d like to present the results of my research – quasi-standardised individual interviews with elderly will be supplemented using 5 psychological scales and tests, observation (open and no-open) – in the 3 spas most popular with older people in Poland. Holiday circumstances were defined by me as time of stays in sanatoria, when one “can afford to do more”. This, in a way, is the clash between something that can be termed as strictness, conservatism of customs with lust and somewhat liberal sensuality. Carnavalising culture and customs is nothing new – it was described by, among others, Bakhtin in his volume entitled Issues in Dostoyevski’s Poetics. His literary expert approach may be related to liberalising attitudes, effacing the rules normally applicable in the world and officially adopted hierarchies. A stay in a spa understood in such context is as though 2-3 weeks of “letting one’s hair down”, return to days of youth, gowns, going outside the daily roles. The question is whether this is really so, and if so, what sort of behaviour is it and what is behind it. In sanatoria, besides lasting or short lived love, including romances, some friendships are also struck.