In seeking to get at how the practice of heterosexuality might change — and the implications of particular changes for the institution itself — a cross-generational approach provides comparative material with which to work. As Foucault argues, the past is of interest not simply for itself, but in its capacity to provide us with a history of the present (cited in Weeks, 2000: 118). In addition, however, cross-generational material allows work on heterosexuality to contribute to a feminist theorisation of gender and ageing. As Arber and Ginn (1995) argued, feminism has not prioritised ageing as a basis from which to theorise difference. Historical time, then, constitutes a core feature throughout this book, along with biographical time representing a key contextual variable within the heterosexual lives discussed here — as already demonstrated in the case of Jean Brown (Chapter 3). Thus we highlight the critical periods against which participants mapped their biographies, the two often being intricately interwoven. As Morgan notes in describing the particular slant he has given to the concept of ‘practices’, these ‘constitute major links between history and biography … are historically constituted and the linkages and tensions or contradictions between practices are historically shaped. At the same time practices are woven into and constituted from elements of individual biographies’ (1996: 190).
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