This is the assignment I made at the end of class on 3-11-20 (the last time we had class). Most of you were present, but a few of you were not. The assignment was to take the information gained by group interviews of older and younger class members and develop a narrative theme about that person, tying it to one of the big themes we have been reading about so far in the class.
I asked the note takers for each of the interviews to send their notes out to the group, but I haven’t seen these and realize that is a pretty big job. 8 of you have notes about somebody because 8 people were interviewed. The 8 of you who have notes should use those notes to do the assignment as discussed in class – write a brief narrative about a central theme in the person’s life, tying it to one of the big issues from earlier classes (ageism, the life course, population structure and development, cumulative advantage/disadvantage, social isolation, third places, political power and activism).
The other 32 of you can do this assignment by reading one of the longer narratives in exceedingexpectations.nyc. (There is a link to this website in your readings for Session 6) You should read Jacquie, Hank, Sylvia, Sandy and Art, Larry, Maria, or George and Doug. You can then explain one of the central themes in their lives in terms of one of the big issues from earlier classes (same as above). To assist all of you, I attach the interview guide we used in class. However, remember, the big idea here is NOT to recite facts about a person’s life. The big idea is to extract a compelling narrative to explain a central essence of a person’s life to someone who has never met them.
- Gain insight about someone’s life from their own perspective.
- Learn something about the daily life of someone in a different part of the life course.
- Experience and demonstrate the process of transforming pieces of information into a narrative. (NOTE: this IS NOT a data analysis exercise—you do not have multiple subjects. This is a reporting and narrative development exercise).
Domains of Inquiry (Adapted from World Health Organization Age Friendly Communities)
- Civic engagement and employment
- Public spaces and buildings
- Respect and social inclusion
- Health care and community services
- Information and communications
- Economic security
Suggestions about Questions and Probes
NOTE: These are qualitative interview guides. You do not need to get responses to all the questions. In the allotted time, you will probably only get to a few, so you may begin anywhere you choose to be sure you discuss topics that interest you.
AS ALWAYS in any form of research with people, they may refuse to answer any question – without offering any explanation. In this kind of loosely structured interview, you may pose follow up questions that are stimulated by what your subject is talking about – as long as they are relevant to the Domains above.
Please describe a typical day in your life. Use yesterday as an example.
When/where did you get up?
What did you do at home before you went anywhere?
Once you left the house, where did you go?
How did you travel around?
Who did you talk with in person over the course of the day?
Who did you communicate with in other ways (describe)?
When did you get home? What did you do then?
Civic engagement and employment
Do you currently have a job?
What is it?
How many hours do you work per week?
Why do you work?
Does it have any relationship to future goals?
Does it have any relationship to past experiences?
What is your ideal job?
Are you currently a voter?
Why or Why not?
How do you feel when you vote? Does it make you think of anything specific?
Are you active in any cause-related or advocacy or activist campaigns? (examples: environmental justice, work for a candidate, reproductive rights, etc.)
If so, what do you do?
How frequently do you participate?
Have you ever done that kind of work? (Describe)
Where do you live?
How long have you lived there?
With whom do you live?
What are your favorite things about your home?
What are major challenges about it?
For how long do you expect to live there? (and is this what you want?)
From your perspective, what are the housing challenges affecting people like you in NYC?
What is your ideal home?
How did you get to class today? (Be specific: how many trains, buses, blocks walked)
In general, how do you get around NYC?
If you use different modes of transportation, please explain how, when, why.
Does any member of your household have a car?
Do you ever ride in cars?
Explain – how, when, why (dollar vans, taxi, ride share, friends)
From your perspective, what are the major transportation challenges affecting people like you in NYC?
Do you have an ideal mode of transportation? What is it?
Public spaces and buildings
We read about “third places.” Do you have a third place?
What, where is it?
What do you do there?
Why do you go there?
What insight did you gain into other people’s behavior when you read about third places?
What communal spaces or buildings in NYC do you frequent?
Think about whether any of these spaces are owned/maintained by government and list those that are.
If these spaces are private businesses, be specific about brands.
Do you frequent specific brands wherever you go, or just a particular shop?
Are there places you wish you could frequent, but cannot? Why?
What are the challenges for people like you in using the government-run public spaces and buildings in NYC?
The private ones?
Respect and social inclusion
Do you have places you go where “everybody knows your name?” Describe.
Are there activities/events/places where you would like to be but feel unwelcome?
Give a specific example that happened to you.
Give a specific example that you expect/fear would happen if you attempted to join in.
Describe people, institutions, situations where you routinely feel especially welcome or especially unwelcome? (Examples: entering a pricey department store, interacting with police, attending class at Hunter, going to the bodega on your corner, going to your gym).
Do you feel like any of the response to you is based on assumptions based on any of your identities? Which identities?
What are the main challenges for people like you about being respected in NYC?
Health care and community services
When was the last time you went to a doctor or other health care provider?
If comfortable, can you say why you went?
If comfortable, can you say what kind of facility (eg: urgent care center, community health center, hospital outpatient clinic, group practice office, etc)
In the last year, have you had times when you thought you should maybe seek health care, but did not? Why?
When you were younger (taken care of by someone else), what was your experience of getting health care?
When, if ever, do you go to a dentist?
If you felt you should get a test for corona virus (fever, bad cough), how would you proceed?
Have you, personally, had challenges seeking health care services? Describe.
Have you, personally, had challenges when using health care services? Describe?
Do you currently help anyone else with finding, receiving health services? If comfortable, describe circumstances and why you are involved.
From your perspective, what are the major challenges for people like you in accessing health care services in NYC?
If you wish to, share any experiences and direct personal perspectives with other community services – day care, senior centers, food pantries, home health care, parenting services, etc.
Information and communications
How frequently do you consume national and local news?
What are your information sources?
What devices bring you this information?
Do you subscribe to any publications? If so, what ones, and how do you receive?
How do you learn about events in the community of interest to you?
How do you communicate with friends, family about daily plans?
Do you have the experience of wishing you knew about something of interest sooner?
Can you give an example?
Do you consider yourself an information disseminator?
What kinds of info?
On what media?
From your perspective, what are the challenges for people like you about finding out information important to you?
Everybody here is currently in school, but let’s talk about your current educational goals.
Are you working toward a degree?
What do you hope to do after you earn that degree?
Do you already have degree(s)?
Especially if you are not working toward a degree, what are your goals from taking classes?
If you are comfortable sharing, what is your personal experience going to school?
How do you feel while in class (confused, bored, exhausted, stimulated, differently at different times, etc)?
How do you feel when doing homework?
What is the experience of registering and dealing with administration like for you?
Do you participate in non-classroom activities? Explain.
Why or Why not? Do they bring the hoped-for results?
What are the challenges for people like you in pursuing education in NYC?
Are personal finances a current concern for you? (expand if comfortable)
Are you worried about finances in your future? (expand if comfortable)
Do you have student loan debt? Are you concerned about that?
From your perspective, what are the major challenges in NYC about economic security for people like you?