This thesis is a qualitative case study of the socio-economic tensions in retirement lifestyle and the retirement village industry. It examines active ageing in the context of one retirement village and analyses village lifestyle in relation to commodification processes pursued by the retirement village industry. Regardless of increased social interactions and opportunities for leisure, physical activities, mental and physical health offered in retirement villages, a focus on health and well-being does not take into account the ways in which these can and have been commodified to financially disadvantage some residents. This study argues that today’s retirees are actively encouraged to extend consumption practices into retirement and that active ageing has become a process of continuous spending and consumption. This ‘active’ retirement lifestyle has resulted in numerous socio-economic changes. For example, the emergence of a corporatized retirement village industry has promoted a new style of independent retirement living, featuring the self-funded, ‘one-stop’ retirement village. The industry sells village villas/units and is successful because it promotes a ‘dream lifestyle’. This thesis argues that this promise incorporates elements of commodification since participation in active ageing activities frequently attracts additional expense. Retirement village residents face both social and economic costs and non-participation entails penalties that may result in exclusion and isolation.
Submitted in the fulfilment of the requirements of the degree of Doctor of Philosophy, University of the Sunshine Coast, 2014.