Article Information


Konstantin Galkin (

Sociological Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, a Branch of the Federal Center of Theoretical and Applied Sociology of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Saint Petersburg, Russia; European University at Saint Petersburg, Saint Petersburg, Russia

Citation: Galkin K. (2020) Ontologicheskaya sborka sred stareniya [Ontological assembly of aging environments]. Zhurnal sotsiologii i sotsialnoy antropologii [The Journal of Sociology and Social Anthropology], 23(2): 67–86 (in Russian).

Abstract. The article considers a new way of conceptualizing aging as a condition of people that depends on material objects and social life and differs in different environments where individuals are located. The article answers the question of how aging is created in the practices of interaction of older people with various actors, people and objects in the physical and social environment of a boarding school and when living separately. Based on an empirical study that was conducted in the Republic of Karelia in a residential home for the elderly and among elderly people living separately, both in the city and in the village, the article examines various cases and how each of the cases is the process of aging and what are the subjective meanings of aging in biographical interviews. The theoretical basis and methodology used in the study belongs to the interdisciplinary research of aging and reveals the possibilities of interdisciplinary research of aging and the application of STS optics and the material approach. The author suggests looking at aging as a process that is created and depends on two key actors — social life and material objects that create subjective meanings for understanding aging of elderly people.

Keywords: aging, aging systems, residential care for the elderly, elderly people living separately, aging research, material approach, research of science and technology (STS).


The study was supported by the fellowship program of the Oxford Russia Fellowship 2019–2020. The research project: Population aging: environment vs. community.


Ash J. (1996) Memory and objects. In: Kirkham P. (ed.) The gendered object. Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press: 219–224.

Barad K. (2000) Reconceiving scientific literacy as agential literacy. In: Reid R., Traweek Sh. (eds.) Doing Culture + Science. London: Routledge: 221–258.

Barad K. (2003) Posthumanist performativity: Toward an understanding of how matter comes to matter. Signs: Journal of women in culture and society, 28(3): 801–831.

Barad K. (2007) Meeting the universe halfway: Quantum physics and the entanglement of matter and meaning. Durham, Nord Carolina: Duke University Press.

Bergeron J., Paquette S., Poullaouec-Gonidec P. (2014) Uncovering landscape values and micro-geographies of meanings with the go-along method. Landscape and Urban Planning, 122: 108–121.

Bogdanova E. (2019) Rezhim zaboty o pozhilyh malomobil'nyh lyudyah v periferijnyh poseleniyah: uspekhi i neudachi v preodolenii social'nogo isklyucheniya [Care regime for elderly people with limited mobility in peripheral settlements: successes and failures in overcoming social exclusion]. In: Borozdina E., Temkina A., Zdravomyslova E. (eds.) Kriticheskaya sotsiologiya zaboty [Critical Sociology of Care]. St. Petersburg: European University at Saint Petersburg Publ. (in Russian).

Chapman S.A. (2006) A ‘new materialist’ lens on aging well: Special things in later life. Journal of Aging Studies, 20(3): 207–216.

Elyutina M. E. (2009) Pozhilye lyudi i starye veshchi v povsednevnoj zhizni [Elderly people and old things in everyday life]. Sociologicheskie issledovaniya [Sociological studies], 7: 101–109 (in Russian).

Elyutina M.E., Trofimova O.A. (2017) Odinokoe prozhivanie i perezhivanie odinochestva v pozdnem vozraste [Living alone and experiencing loneliness later in life]. Zhurnal issledovanij social'noj politiki [Journal of social policy studies], 15(1): 37–50 (in Russian).

Gehlen A. (2009) Der Mensch. Seine Natur und seine Stellung in der Welt. Wiebelsheim: AULA.

Gilleard C., Higgs P. (2015) Aging, embodiment, and the somatic turn. Age, Culture, Humanities: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 2: 17–33.

Golubeva E.Y., Danilova R.I., Kondratova E.A., Koskinen S. (2008) Vzaimodejstvie i otvetstvennost' sem'i i gosudarstva po uhodu za pozhilym chelovekom v Rossii i Finlyandii: krosskul'turnyj kontekst [Interaction and responsibility of the family and the state to care for the elderly in Russia and Finland: cross-cultural context]. Klinicheskaya gerontologiya [Clinical gerontology], 14(5): 3–10 (in Russian).

Golubeva E.Y., Khabarova L.G., Solovyev A.G. (2017) Priyomnaya sem'ya kak novaya tekhnologiya uhoda v politike aktivnogo stareniya v otdalennyh severnyh territoriyah [Foster care as a new technology of care in the policy of active aging in the remote Northern territories]. Ekologiya cheloveka [Human Ecology], 11: 42–46 (in Russian).

Grigoryeva I.A. (2006) Social'naya politika i pozhiloe naselenie v sovremennoj Rossii: vyzovy i vozmozhnosti [Social policy and the elderly population in modern Russia: challenges and opportunities]. Mir Rossii. Sociologiya. Etnologiya [World of Russia. Sociology. Ethnology], 15(1): 29–49 (in Russian).

Grigoryeva I.A. (2018) Smena paradigmy v ponimanii stareniya [A paradigm shift in the understanding of aging]. Zhurnal issledovanij social'noj politiki [The Journal of Social Policy Studies], 16(1): 5–6 (in Russian).

Höppner G., Urban M. (2018) Where and how do aging processes take place in everyday life? Answers from a new materialist perspective. Frontiers in Sociology, 3(7). Doi: 10.3389/fsoc.2018.00007.

Höppner G., Urban M. (2019) Materialities of age and ageing. Frontiers in Sociology, 4(14). Doi: 10.3389/fsoc.2019.00014.

Irni S. (2013) The politics of materiality: Affective encounters in a transdisciplinary debate. European Journal of Women's Studies, 20(4): 347–360.

Kusenbach M (2003) Street phenomenology: The go-along as ethnographic research tool. Ethnography, 4(3): 455–485.

Latour B. (2005) Reassembling the social: An introduction to actor-network-theory. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Latour B. (2015) Pasteur: vojna i mir mikrobov, s prilozheniem “Nesvodimogo” [The Pasterization of France]. St. Petersburg: European University at St. Petersburg Publ. (in Russian).

Law J., Vakhshtayn V. (2006) Ob"ekty i prostranstva [Objects and spaces]. Sociologicheskoe obozrenie [Sociological review], 5(1): 30–42 (in Russian).

Mol A. (2002) The body multiple: Ontology in medical practice. Durham, North Carolina: Duke University Press.

Nijt T., Hejdmets M., Kruusvall Y. (eds.) (1985) Social'no-psihologicheskie osnovy sredoobrazovaniya [Socio-psychological foundations of environment formation]. Tallinn: Estonian Branch of the Society of Psychologists of the USSR (in Russian).

Rowe J.W., Kahn R.L. (1997) Successful aging. The gerontologist, 37(4): 433–440.

Rutherford B.R., Taylor W.D., Brown P.J., Sneed J.R., Roose S.P. (2017) Biological aging and the future of geriatric psychiatry. Journals of Gerontology Series A: Biomedical Sciences and Medical Sciences, 72(3): 343–352.

Rutkevich A.M. (2001) Teoriya institutov A. Gehlena [Theory of institutions by A. Gehlen]. Sociologicheskoe obozrenie [Sociological review], 1(2): 4–25 (in Russian).

Shabanov L.V. (2004) Sredovoj podhod v psihologii i ego rol' v formirovanii tolerantnyh ekologicheskih prostranstv. [Environmental approach in psychology and its role in the formation of tolerant ecological spaces]. Sibirskij psihologicheskij zhurnal [Siberian psychological journal], 20: 71–75 (in Russian).

Shagidaeva A.B. (2014) Emocional'naya sfera v starosti: vozrastnye i regional'nye razlichiya [Emotional sphere in old age: age and regional differences]. Psihologicheskaya nauka i obrazovanie [Psychological science and education], 6(2): 102–115 (in Russian).

Sinyavskaya O. (2018) Starenie kak social'no-ekonomicheskij fenomen [Aging as a socio-economic phenomenon]. Report. Moscow: KGI Pabl. (in Russian).

Sinyavskaya O.V. (2006) Rossijskie pensionery: v chem ih bednost' i uyazvimost'? [Russian pensioners what is their poverty and vulnerability]. SPERO, 4 66–91 (in Russian).

Sivkov D.Y. (2015) Takoj raznyj ateroskleroz [Such a different atherosclerosis]. Sociologiya vlasti [Sociology of power], 27(1): 267–277 (in Russian).

Starodubov V.I., Schhepin O.P. (2014) Obshchestvennoe zdorov'e i zdravoohranenie: nacional'noe rukovodstvo. Moscow: GEOTAR-Media Publ. (in Russian).

Twigg J., Buse C.E. (2013) Dress, dementia and the embodiment of identity. Dementia, 12(3): 326–336.