“Ageing Well” in Changing Times and Places. Further Notes on Anchoring and Stakes in a Brazilian and an Italian Context

  • Alberta Contarello University of Padua
  • Brigido Vizeu Camargo Federal University of Santa Catarina
  • João Wachelke Federal University of Uberlandia
  • Chiara Piccolo University of Padua
  • Daniela Xavier Morais Federal University of Santa Catarina
Keywords: ageing-well, anchoring, stakes, implicit/explicit, hegemonic social representations


The rapid ageing of the world population has led social scientists to speak about an

ageing society, posing new questions and concerns, and to advance different theoretical

perspectives. Among these, Positive Aging, Successful Ageing, Active Ageing

constitute social psychological and social policy models explicitly designed to help

people face later phases of life at their best. Various studies also exist on the Social

Representations of ageing, while less attention has been given directly to ageing-well.

The aim of this study is to explore the issue as considered by people living in contexts

characterized by different societal situations and trajectories: an Italian and a Brazilian

context. Geopolitical belonging and age were taken into account: 360 participants, with a

2 (geopolitical context) Å~3 (age group: young, adult, elderly) design, equally balanced

by gender, were invited to complete a free associations task on “ageing-well” and to

answer an open question on what they see as being most important in order to live longer

and better. Results relating to the more implicit level of analysis highlight a hegemonic

representation enhancing individual accomplishments and resources in both contexts, as

well as relational bonds to the detriment of societal commitment. The importance of

societal concern is clearly advanced in the explicit argumentations made mainly by

Brazilian respondents, while Italian ones place high expectations on research but

basically interiorize the individualization of risks and demands brought by ageing. These

and other results are discussed – theoretically and methodologically – in relation to the

proposed models and to urgent challenges that the ageing society is posing on a

worldwide scale.

Author Biographies

Alberta Contarello, University of Padua

ALBERTA CONTARELLO is Full Professor of Social Psychology at the University of Padua,

Italy. Currently her research interests regard: change and continuity in social knowledge,

including social representations of ageing; social psychology and qualitative research; social

psychology and literary texts.

Brigido Vizeu Camargo, Federal University of Santa Catarina

BRIGIDO VIZEU CAMARGO is Full Professor at the Federal University of Santa Catarina,

Brazil and coordinator of the Social Psychology of Communication and Cognition Laboratory

(LACCOS). He carries out research about social representations on chronic diseases, body and


João Wachelke, Federal University of Uberlandia

JOÃO WACHELKE is Adjunct Professor at the Federal University of Uberlandia, Brazil. His

past research has focused on the contents and structure of social representations and social

knowledge systems related to aging in Brazil and Italy, as well as basic theory and methodology

of the structural approach.

Chiara Piccolo, University of Padua

CHIARA PICCOLO is PhD student in Social Sciences: Interactions, Communication, Cultural

Constructions, University of Padua - Department of Philosophy, Sociology, Education and

Applied Psychology. Her research interests regard social representations, ageing, welfare, social

policy and social changes.

Daniela Xavier Morais, Federal University of Santa Catarina

DANIELA XAVIER MORAIS is Master's student in Psychology at the Federal University of

Santa Catarina, Brazil, and a researcher of the Social Psychology of Communication and

Cognition Laboratory (LACCOS). Her Master's dissertation concerns the relationships between 

the social representations of aging and elderly people's social networks.