The licensed social club

A resource for independence in later life

Virginia Simpson-Young*, Cherry Russell

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

7 Citations (Scopus)


Particular places may function as resources for older people in their efforts to actively maintain independence. In Australia, a place of this type is the licensed or 'registered' club which provides leisure facilities, restaurant and bar services and opportunities for informal social interaction. This paper draws on the findings of an ethnographic studywhich sought to understand the nature,meaning and role of registered club participation for members of one club in Sydney, Australia, to describe the role of club participation in maintaining independence for older people. Participant observation and in-depth interviewing over a four and half year period yielded qualitative data which were analysed using thematic, narrative and key-words-in-context methods of analysis. Club-use facilitated independence-conceptualised as self-reliance-by being an accessible resource utilised by older club-goers to manage daily living and to maintain 'everyday competence'. Independence-conceptualised as self-direction-was facilitated by the availability of a range of options enabling the exercise of choice and balanced reciprocity in relationships. Additionally, club-going was symbolic, for some, of continuing independence. The findings provide a valuable insight into a means by which older people manage later life's challenges, highlighting the active nature of these efforts and the role of local contexts that function as a resource for independence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)216-236
Number of pages21
JournalAgeing International
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • Australia
  • Autonomy
  • Ethnography
  • Independence
  • Licensed clubs
  • Older people
  • Place

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