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Christopher Phillipson

ISBN: 978-0-745-63085-4 April 2013 Polity 192 Pages


Ageing populations represent a key global challenge for the twenty-first century. Few areas of life will remain untouched by the accompanying changes to cultural, economic and social life. This book interrogates various understandings of ageing, and provides a critical assessment of attitudes and responses to the development of ageing societies, placing these in the context of a variety of historical and sociological debates.

Written in a highly accessible style, this book examines a range of topics, including demographic change across high- and low-income countries, theories of social ageing, changing definitions of 'age', retirement trends, family and intergenerational relations, poverty and inequality, and health and social care in later life. The book also considers the key steps necessary in preparing for the social transformation which population ageing will bring.

Ageing provides a fresh and original approach to a topic of central concern to students and scholars working in sociology, social policy and wider social science disciplines and the humanities.

Acknowledgements vii

1 Introduction: Understanding Ageing 1

Part I Demographic and Social Dimensions of Ageing 9

2 Ageing Societies in a Global Perspective 11

3 Social Theories of Ageing 29

4 The Development of Ideas about Age and Ageing 53

5 The Social Construction of Ageing 70

Part II Inequalities and Divisions in Later Life 87

6 Ageing and Pensions: The Social Construction of Inequality 89

7 Families and Generational Change in Ageing Societies 109

8 'Late' Old Age 127

Part III New Pathways for Later Life 143

9 Preparing for Ageing Populations: Rebuilding Institutions 145

10 Conclusion: New Pathways for Later Life 166

Notes 178

References 181

Index 206

"Written by a sociologist, one of our most prominent authorities on ageing, this book provides a comprehensive and insightful overview of the key debates in the field."
Nursing Times

"Polity’s ‘key concepts’ book series focuses on highly complex concepts, and this definitely holds for Phillipson’s subject matter: ageing. The series is also meant to get to the heart of debates about the meaning and usage of concepts and, again, this book delivers. Phillipson provides a clear critical outline of crucial issues surrounding ageing. The book draws on historical developments, provides succinct overviews of current situations and speculates on possible futures."
Social Policy and Administration

"Phillipson sets out to challenge the assumptions about ageing and provide a systematic overview of the nature and development of ageing societies."
Journal of Social Policy

"Like other books in the series it provides a concise and informative approach to concepts that have a high degree of complexity surrounding them, getting to the heart of debates about meaning and usage, this time in relation to ageing."

"A work of critical gerontology such as this has the benefit of encouraging reflection and offering more questions than answers: an ideal approach for teachers and students of gerontology."
Canadian Journal on Aging

"Chris Phillipson is one of our most prominent authorities on ageing. In this book he provides a comprehensive and insightful overview of the key debates in the field, addressing both how we should understand the phenomenon of ageing and also its consequences for an increasingly globalized world."
Julia Twigg, University of Kent

"In Ageing, Chris Phillipson explains and critiques social science contributions to understanding and moulding the way we think about older people and population ageing. Foremost among its many merits are exceptional clarity and comprehensibility. Both new and long-term students of the field will profit greatly from reading this book."
Tony Warnes, University of Sheffield

''Phillipson makes clear that the face of ageing is changing in response to wide-reaching currents sweeping around the globe. As is apparent throughout Ageing, the discussion of what is fair and appropriate is shifting as the political economic forces of national and international development redefine what it means to grow old. A real tour de force from an internationally recognized scholar."
Joe Hendricks, Oregon State University

''A key strength of this publication is the rich contextual background it provides, with welcome coverage of international variations in ageing and thought-provoking suggestions on as to how institutions can successfully adapt to the changing demographic''
Journal of Ageing & Society

  • Concise contribution to understanding one of the key global challenges for the twenty-first century: ageing societies
  • Interrogates theories of social ageing, changing definitions of ‘age’, intergenerational relations, retirement trends, and heath & social care in later life
  • Provides a critical assessment of responses to the development of ageing societies and the key steps needed to prepare for this social transformation
  • Written in a highly accessible style, placing the issues in the context of a variety of historical and sociological debates