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ILSHS Volume 54

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Ageing and the Welfare State: A Theory of Risk

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How do we define "old age" Is it a stage in life defined by a particular age or event such as retirement, is it determined by physical characteristics and the loss of independence, or is it an artifact of social structures Indeed, is it helpful to categorize people as being "old" at all, as opposed to being "disadvantaged" or "dependent" It may be inaccurate to expect older people to see themselves as a category with particular health needs and wants.Hence, the key task is to analyse the interplay between social policy and the lives of individuals, families or groups and communities. The expectation of negative events in the future and the different ways of how to respond to such expectations is central for the sociological approach to risk and uncertainty (Zinn 2004). Part of this reflexive response is the importance of recognising self-subjective dimensions of emotions, trust, biographical knowledge and resources (Zinn 2005) that impinge on the existential shaping old age. Hence, our discussion provides a critical narrative to the importance to the study of old age and welfarism in America and Europe.


International Letters of Social and Humanistic Sciences (Volume 54)
J. L. Powell, "Ageing and the Welfare State: A Theory of Risk", International Letters of Social and Humanistic Sciences, Vol. 54, pp. 77-87, 2015
Online since:
June 2015

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