The New Political Economy of Generations: Social Class and Social Divisions in Old Age

Tuesday, July 15, 2014: 10:30 AM
Room: Booth 40
Oral Presentation
Christopher PHILLIPSON , University of Manchester, Manchester, United Kingdom
Increased inequalities within nation states have influenced social structures in a variety of ways. For older people, one consequence has been greater differentiation within generations driven by contrasting experiences of economic recession and life course events. Generations, in western society from the mid-20th Century, were underpinned by near full employment, orderly transitions into and out of work, intergenerational mobility, and declining levels of inequality. These processes ground to a halt during the 1980s and have continued to be affected by a combination of austerity and accelerated globalisation. The paper will examine how a combination of globalisation and long-term economic change is re-structuring core social relationships in old age. The consequences arising from this include: the weakening of the idea of generations as a meaningful unit of analysis; the emergence of new political and social identities in later life; and the growing importance of divisions operating within generational and related social groups. The paper will explore the implications of these developments for theoretical work in the sociology of ageing.