David J. Ekerdt

 David Ekerdt

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David Ekerdt is Professor of Sociology at the University of Kansas.  He conducts research on workers’ changing experience of retirement, and on the ways that people manage and dispose of their possessions in later life.  He is presently completing a book on household downsizing. His current project studies future time perspective among older adults in Europe, Asia, and the U.S.  He served in 2018 as the President of the Gerontological Society of America, the oldest and largest interdisciplinary organization devoted to research, education, and practice in the field of aging. 


Confronting the Material Convoy in Later Life

The entirety of one’s possessions can be rolled into a term—material convoy—in order to convey the idea that a dynamic assembly of belongings accompanies our lives across time.  After the material convoy typically crests in size at midlife, its fate begins to become an issue for oneself and others, especially so in later life when relocating from larger to smaller quarters and divestment becomes necessary.  I report findings from research among older Americans who have recently relocated and divested, and among others who are aware that they may someday need to move.  The cognitive, physical, emotional, and social tasks of downsizing are trying and stressful, and there is deadline pressure as well.  At the same time, movers tend to be content with their new, more compact lives.  This research suggests optimal strategies for managing divestments related to residential relocation.