'I can still drive a car.': Selfpresentation in later life and the symbolic value of driving

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This qualitative study draws attention to the symbolic value of driving or having a valid
driver’s licence among older adults as part of their impression management. While several
studies have focused on driving behaviour, safety, risk factors and not least the consequences of driving cessation, the present study from the Faroe Islands contributes to
the body of knowledge concerning older adults and driving by bringing an impression
management lens to this issue. Social constructionism formed both the theoretical and
methodological approach and data came from interviews with three couples and eight
individuals in their eighties. All the male participants still had their driver’s licence and
were active drivers except for one. Among the women, four had driver’s licences and
three were active drivers. Our findings point to the necessity of understanding the reluctance to give up driving as being not only related to quality of life, mobility and independence, but also being highly related to preserving one’s identity as a competent and ‘not that
old’ person. Contrary to common prejudices against older drivers, the findings also
showed that these participants reported self-regulation adjustments to continue driving
safely. The study indicates a need to support older drivers to continue driving if they
wish to do so. It is not only a question of mobility or being independent, but also related
to preserving one’s social identity in later life.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 19 Apr 2023
EventDansk Gerontologisk Kongres - Middelfart, Denmark
Duration: 27 Oct 202329 Oct 2023


ConferenceDansk Gerontologisk Kongres


  • Ageing
  • identity
  • self-esteem
  • self-presentation
  • driving
  • social constructionism


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