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Sexual activity and norms among older Swedes: a life course perspective
University of Gävle, Faculty of Health and Occupational Studies, Department of Social Work and Psychology.
Stockholms universitet.
2014 (English)Conference paper, Abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

It has been argued that in late modernity sex has escaped its reproductive cage and people form pure relationships, based on mutual satisfaction. Ironically, although older people are per definition non-reproductive, they have often been neglected in studies on sexuality. In this paper we present results from 1) a qualitative interview study with a strategic sample of 28 63–91 year old Swedes currently dating or in a heterosexual relationship (married, cohabiting, LAT) initiated 60+ and 2) a quantitative survey including answers from 1225 60–90 year old Swedes. The interviews revealed a clear normative change, from a cultural context that condemned extra-marital sex in young adulthood to a context which encourages sexual relationships but not marriage in later life. All had experienced the sexual liberation of the 1960s, and today, these liberal attitudes seem to encompass later life. Today, an active sex-life was regarded as important for a good relationship and sexual attraction was seen as a precondition for new relationships. Many informants had interpreted sexual decline in former relationships as “natural” and age-related, but re-discovered sexuality with their new partner. In the survey, a majority (93 %) had had their sexual debut before marriage (despite the restrictive norms). Half or the respondents have had ≥ 4 more sexual partners, and one in five ≥ 10. Sexual activity correlated negatively with relationship length. It has often been argued in gerontology that sexual values and practices will become more liberal in the future by cohort replacement. Our data indicates that “the future might already be here”.

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URN: urn:nbn:se:hig:diva-20803OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hig-20803DiVA: diva2:877875
22nd Nordic Congress of Gerontology, Age Well - Challenges for Individuals and Society, 25-28 May 2014, Gothenburg, Sweden
Available from: 2015-12-08 Created: 2015-12-08 Last updated: 2016-01-14Bibliographically approved

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Öberg, Peter
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Department of Social Work and Psychology

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