From abominable to estimable (or tolerable) “home”: reconfiguring representations related to institutionalization
Keywords:Aging, Institutionalization, Social Representations
This study aims to identify and analyze representations of institutionalized elderly regarding the residential facilities where they live. The hypothesis formulated in this study is that elderly people, when institutionalized, may change their representations, which entail negative evaluative contents, depending on the scenario they encounter. This study used a qualitative approach, with a semi-structured interview specifically designed for empirical data collection. Serge Moscovici’s social representation theory was used as the theoretical framework to test the hypothesis that the experience of being admitted to and staying in a residential care facility for the elderly can contribute to changes in the peripheral system of social representations of the object, reducing the negative weight on its central core as a hegemonic representation. The results indicate that transformation of social representations is associated with experiential and contextual factors, occurring mainly as a result of new social practices within institutional daily life. Two of the major contributions of this study consisted in the identification and analysis of a tripartite typology of practices driving transformation of negative representations regarding residential care facilities, namely: (1) physical and material comfort; (2) escape from loneliness; and (3) preservation of family connections.