Ageing Identities and Women’s Everyday Talk in a Hair Salon  book cover
1st Edition

Ageing Identities and Women’s Everyday Talk in a Hair Salon

ISBN 9780367245511
Published January 16, 2020 by Routledge
262 Pages 9 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

The ageing of the world’s populations, particularly in Western developed countries, is a well-documented phenomenon; and despite many positive images of later life, in the media and public discourse later life is frequently depicted as a time of inevitable physical and cognitive decline. Against this background, Heinrichsmeier presents the results of her two-year sociolinguistic study examining how a group of older women of different ages negotiated their way through their own and others’ expectations of ageing and constructed different kinds of older – and other – identities for themselves. Through vivid and nuanced analysis of their chat and practices in a small village hair salon, Heinrichsmeier reveals these women’s subtle and skilful manipulation of stereotypes of ageing and the impact of the evolving talk on their identity constructions. Her study, which provides numerous short extracts of talk in both the hair salon and interview along with more detailed case studies, highlights the importance of such apparently ‘trivial’ sites – for both studying older people’s identity work and as loci for positive identity constructions and well-being in later life. This book will be of particular interest to graduate students and scholars working in sociolinguistics, discourse analysis, conversation analysis, and gerontological studies, as well as those interested in approaches integrating ethnography and language.

Table of Contents

List of figures

List of tables


Transcription notation



Chapter 1 Ageing in society and in interaction

Chapter 2 Researching identities in a hair salon

Chapter 3 Ageing: Manoeuvring around decline

Chapter 4 Not only old: Negotiating ageing in salon talk

Chapter 5 First impressions

Chapter 6 Negotiating stances to appearance

Chapter 7 Ageing well in stories of daily life

Chapter 8 Being more than ‘older women’

Chapter 9 Looking back, looking forward



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Rachel Heinrichsmeier is a Visiting Research Fellow at King’s College London. Her research focusses on identity construction in interaction, particularly older-age, gender and institutional identities, and combines a conversation analytic-informed discourse analysis with ethnographic methods.


"This inspiring book, full of living narratives of older women, invites readers to think critically about ageing against a background of increasing longevity." - Jing Wu, University of Gothenburg, Ageing and Society 

"[This book] makes a convincing case for approaching ageing and age identity as contextual, co-constructed by participants, and as intersecting with other aspects of our identities...I highly recommend the book for anyone interested in talk and (age) identity constructions, women and ageing, or the application of CA/MCA/IS on talk and interaction." - Virpi Ylänne, Cardiff University, Journal of Pragmatics