This research project is in line with work in the humanities and social sciences which studies the way in which senior citizens - understood here as retirees aged 65 and over - cope with the social and psychological challenges posed by retirement. Entering retirement is a time of transition that marks the beginning of a stage in the life course that is sometimes more vulnerable than others. But it can also be an opportunity to develop new commitments and skills. Based on a participatory and comprehensive approach, and drawing on the experience of the seniors themselves, this research project studies the voluntary involvement of seniors in associations, and its possible effects on their quality of life. It also aims to encourage associations and society in general to better recognize the skills and commitments of older people, and to better understand the impact of their contributions on their quality of life and on intergenerational relations more generally.
The research is based on the collection of qualitative data through focus groups, individual interviews, and life calendars. The fieldwork is carried out in the cantons of Vaud and Valais, with the hypothesis that these two contexts (one urban, the other rural) may have consequences on the opportunities and forms of voluntary involvement of seniors. In order to reach senior volunteers, we collaborate with a dozen volunteer associations in the two cantons.
The project started on 1st December 2019 and lasts for 3 years. The fieldwork during the first year was largely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, we were able to conduct a first series of focus groups and interviews, and collected life calendars. We also brought together our support group (composed of representatives of the project's partner associations) and began our analyses.