Ageing and Class in a Globalised World

Tuesday, July 15, 2014: 6:00 PM
Room: Booth 40
Oral Presentation
Christopher PHILLIPSON , The University of Manchester, Manchester, United Kingdom

Discussions about the role of social class in the lives of older people have often occupied a marginal position in social research into ageing. Despite the importance of themes linked with inequality and latterly social exclusion, the tendency has been to examine these only loosely through the lens of social class, with researchers often preferring to  emphasise individual characteristics or life histories, other statuses (e.g. gender and ethnicity), or more general features associated with the social organisation of age. In consequence, social class has had limited influence on many of the concepts deployed to understand the lives of older people. This paper explores a variety of reasons as to why this might be case. In addition, it considers whether this tells us anything of wider significance about the way in which social gerontology has developed. Would a fuller appreciation of social class add anything to our understanding of later life? To develop these points the discussion reviews, first, ways in which the role of class has been minimised in studies of ageing; second, evidence for the re-emergence of class analysis; third, the importance of situating class analysis within the context of globalization and economic change; fourth, the paper concludes with an assessment of possible developments in the application of class analysis to the study of ageing.