Abstract

This paper presents results from the second phase of a longitudinal study of retirement. Data were gathered through interviews with 29 participants (65 to 66 years of age) who had previously been interviewed when they were 63 to 64 years of age and still working. Data were analyzed by characterizing each subject’s narrative about retirement in terms of its narrative slope—progressive, stability, or regressive. These current narratives also were compared with the earlier narratives these participants told. It was found that, while anticipatory narratives may predispose persons toward action, they are not so much a fixed “script for action” as an orientation to act within circumstances. While participants’ narratives anticipating retirement often turned out as expected, they were sometimes reshaped as a consequence of personal action, external events, and unexpected experiences within new retirement occupations. The study suggests that, while narratives play a role in shaping the direction of persons lives, they also interweave with and change directions as a result of ongoing life events and experiences.

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