Bratun U, Asaba E
J Aging Stud 58 (-) 100954 [2021-09-00; online 2021-07-28]
Choosing to continue working after retirement eligibility can attract both negative and positive sentiments from the general public. Studies examining the motivations of older workers have so far been conducted in times of relative social and economic stability. However, little is known about what it means for older workers to work during a lockdown or pandemic situation. The present longitudinal study aimed to explore experiences of retirement-aged workers in Slovenia in relation to their motives for prolonged work activity amid the COVID-19 pandemic, using the theory of gerotranscendence as a theoretical framework. Nine workers were interviewed before and after the start of the pandemic. The qualitative analysis was based on 18 interviews and observations, juxtaposing two analytical methods in order to illustrate common themes across the data as well as tensions in specific situations within a narrative context. Four main themes are presented: Unchanged plans, Motive developments, Psychological preparation for retirement and Views of society. In addition, a narrative analysis is presented with a focus on self-transcending elements in some of the participants' narratives. The findings suggest that during a pandemic, older workers' individual experiences might be constructed more positively compared to other groups, especially if they develop agentic identity and pursue meaningful activities. We discuss an innovative approach to gerotranscendence, complementing this theory with concepts from occupational science to develop a clearer distinction from the now dated disengagement theory and examine the life trajectories of older workers in novel situations such as a pandemic.