Our ethnographic approach is designed to make substantive contributions to changing national and international conversations about aging well. To change conversations, we aim to spark them. Starting with comparative context gained from document, statistical and policy analyses, we will transition to ethnographies designed to be a series of linked studies of cities, programs and people’s everyday experiences of aging. We will start in one city (Toronto) gathering interviews, observations, videos and photos from which we will create digital stories that will then be used to recruit as well as spark conversations with policy makers, community organizations, unions and groups of seniors in the next city (Ottawa). This process will continue every six months until Year 6 when the digital stories have travelled to seven Canadian and five international cities. To further spark conversations, the digital stories will be housed online, but also curated into an arts-based research exhibit in the final year.
This methodology will allow us to identify the links and disjunctures between and among the specificities of everyday life, the material conditions as well as the broad social narratives or stories that help to (re)create meaning, agency and power. Our catalytic ethnographic approach builds on this insight and our previous research projects using rapid site-switching ethnography. In this project, our ethnographic studies aim for a strengthened component of “catalytic validity” or validity achieved and measured as evidence-in-use to create social change that advances equity. In order to achieve this level of validity, our methods include on-going engagement and investment in our partnership relationships.