Social and psychological creativity in gay male midlife identity management

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Abstract

This study utilizes a qualitative thematic analysis methodology and a social identity theory framework to explore ways in which early midlife gay men report enhancing their social identities through social and psychological creativity. Face-to-face, semi-structured interviews were conducted with forty early midlife gay men (aged 40–53) in four US cities. Men discussed the collective and individual essences of their age and gay identities, including attitudes, beliefs, and behaviours that they embraced to self-enhance at midlife. These discussions emphasized differences from the younger gay outgroup, often in the context of intergenerational interaction. Identified were three strategies (and seven substrategies) that summarized the ways that interviewees constructed their identities in the interest of self-enhancement, specifically in the context of intergenerational comparisons with younger gay men. These strategies may be considered as extensions to social creativity strategies presented in Tajfel and Turner's (Psychology of intergroup relations. Chicago, IL: Nelson, 1986: 7) social identity theory.

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