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Governmentality, Social Policy and the Social Construction of Old Age in England

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This article looks in more detail at the incidence and consequence of social policies for older people through the distinctly French post-structuralist lens of governmentality (Foucault, 1977). This will enable us to consider the implications of the re-figuring of the relationship between the state, older people and social work. This re-figuring constructs an ambiguous place for older people: they feature either as a resource - captured in the idea of the „active citizen‟, as affluent consumers, volunteers or providers of child care - or as a problem in the context of poverty, vulnerability and risk. In many ways, policy provides three trajectories for older people: first, as independent self-managing consumers with private means and resources; second, as people in need of some support to enable them to continue to self-manage; and third, as dependent and unable to commit to self-management. Governmentality provides the theoretical framework through which to view policy and practice that is largely governed by discourses of personalisation, safeguarding, capability and risk.


International Letters of Social and Humanistic Sciences (Volume 27)
J. L. Powell, "Governmentality, Social Policy and the Social Construction of Old Age in England", International Letters of Social and Humanistic Sciences, Vol. 27, pp. 108-121, 2014
Online since:
May 2014

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