Imagining transitions in old age through the Visual Matrix method: Thinking about what is hard to bear.

Anne Liveng, Ellen Ramvi, Lynn Froggett, Julian Manley, Wendy Hollway, Åse Høgsbro Lading, Birgitta Haga Gripsrud

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review


Dominant discourses of ageing are often confined to what is less painful to think about and therefore idealise or denigrate ageing and later life. We present findings from an exploratory psychosocial study, in a Nordic context, into three later-life transitions: from working life to retirement, from mental health to dementia and from life to death. Because, for some, these topics are hard to bear and therefore defended against and routinely excluded from everyday awareness, we used a method led by imagery and affect–the Visual Matrix–to elicit participant s’ free associative personal and collective imagination. Through analysis of data extracts, on the three transitions, we illustrate oscillations between defending against the challenges of ageing and realism in facing the anxieties it can provoke. A recurring theme includes the finality of individual life and the inter-generational continuity, which together link life and death, hope and despair, separation and connectedness.
Translated title of the contributionForestillinger om transitioner i det sene liv gennem Visual Matrix metoden:: at tænke over det, der er svært at bære
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Social Work Practice
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)155-170
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2017
EventVisual Matrix: Psychosocial research - Stavanger, Stavanger, Norway
Duration: 13 Nov 201415 Nov 2014


WorkshopVisual Matrix
OtherThe workshop series Exploring Life Transitions in Old Age through a Visual Matrix (2014–15) was funded by The Joint Committee for Nordic Research Councils in the Humanities and Social Sciences (NOS-HS)


  • Visual Matrix
  • ageing
  • transition
  • anxiety
  • imagination
  • psychosocial research

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