Doing Retiring - The Social Practices of Transiting into Retirement and the Distribution of Transitional Risks

Dr. Anna Wanka

With the ageing of the Baby Boomer cohort, more and more adults are transiting from working life into retirement. This transition is shaped by different institutions and societal discourses and entails risks and chances that are coped with in diverse ways by different groups of persons. The research project focuses on the social practices of retiring, asking: How is retiring being done? Which societal institutions shape transitions into retirement? How are transitions into retirement articulated discursively? And how do these differ in regard to persons from different status groups?

Methodologically the project will follow 15 older adults throughout their process of retiring from before to three years after retirement. It follows a longitudinal mixed-methods design with a qualitative focus, combining episodic interviews, daily diaries and non-participant observations.

With this the research follows three aims:
a) to describe doing retiring as a process in a holistic and comprehensive manner, considering the involved institutions and discourses from a praxeological perspective,
b) to compare how older adults of different status groups do retiring and if these doings can be linked to the reproduction of social inequalities across the life-course, and
c) to explore the practical potential of educational institutions (e.g. counselling) at the transition from work to retirement.

Results shall be linked to and discussed with researchers working on related topics in the research program, like the transition from work to unemployment or parental leave, reproduction of inequalities throughout transitions or the role of counselling in educational and transitional processes.