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Sunday, April 17, 2011

Ageism and Politics

         The following ideas are connected to a very interesting book.[i]  The authors’ assumption is that we are now in a “consumer society”. And that upon retirement “The individual’s role within the productive process is no longer central.” Most of us lose our work incomes and have to pay more attention to how we spend limited amounts of money provided by the state and our private pensions.
      The book also suggests that in the wider society boundaries between the working class and middle class are becoming less clear. “Rather than class coming to serve as a cornerstone in people’s sense of self, that role increasingly is performed through consumption.” 
      In a consumer society it may be more accurate to perceive retirement as a “…structurally imposed identity that is thrust upon older people by a society dominated by the business interests…”  Once we have retired, it is then assumed that we have become just another burden to the rest of society.
      If that is the case no wonder, in the recent Canadian Election Debates, aside from the NDP (and that was minimal) the major party leaders had nothing to say about the difficulties faced by older people as the society attempts to plow it’s way through the current “economic downturn”
      While many people including retirees are trying to make ends meet, financial difficulties are getting worse and governments like those in Canada and the USA are discussing financial deficits in terms of billions and trillions of dollars.
       The Book’s authors also state “… the gap between the well off and the (relatively) poor older adult population will continue to widen unless there is a massive expansion of state provision—a scenario that seems extremely unlikely.”  Most of us spend our whole lives working and paying taxes.  After retirement all we will have to do is continue to pay taxes.

[i] Gilleard, C. & Higgs, P. (2000). Cultures of aging: Self. Citizen, and the Body,Pearson Education Limited

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