Assembling the "ageing society"

Speaker: Dr Tiago Moreira # Durham University

11th Jan 2016

15:30 - 17:00

Staff Room, 6th floor, Crystal Macmillan Building (University of Edinburgh, George Square)

Definitions of the ageing society usually link an increase in the number and proportion of older people in the population to a variety of changes in labour markets, welfare programmes, inter-generational processes and cultural norms. In this paper, I explore how this link came to be articulated and established as an authoritative rendition of contemporary societies. Part of a wider research project focused on role of science and technology in the making and transformation of ageing societies, I take as a point of departure the ‘ageing population crisis’ of the 1970s, but suggest that the origins of the ageing society can be traced back to the tying of a close association between economics and eugenicist population policies at the turn of the 20th century in the US, UK and Europe. I argue that this association between economics and demography was compounded by a shift away from control of birth rates in population science, and continued attempts to re-assess the worth of older people through that mix of science and advocacy that is modern gerontology, so as to, in turn, unfasten the questions of race and immigration from the ‘problem of ageing’.

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