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Departing the margins - Social class and later life in a second modernity

Higgs, P; Gilleard, C; (2006) Departing the margins - Social class and later life in a second modernity. J SOCIOL , 42 (3) 219 - 241. 10.1177/1440783306066724.

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Abstract

The contemporary experience of retirement in the most prosperous nations reorganizes the relationship of social class to old age. Later life can now be seen in terms of lifestyle and identity rather than being primarily a reflection of previous occupation. From being a residual category of social policy, the widespread introduction of retirement pensions not only 'decommodified' later life but was successful in taking older people out of a life-cycle-determined poverty. This decommodification had the effect of removing later life from the social relations of social class. During the 'golden age' of welfare, old age became dependent on class but was effectively outside it. 'Old people' were simply pensioners dependent on conditions set up during their working lives. Using Beck's schema of the transition from first modernity into second modernity, retirement, particularly in Australia, the UK and the USA, has become recommodified as a potential consumer lifestyle sustained by pension fund capitalism and by the individualization of pension risk. Contemporary later life thus complicates the nature of social class as retirees become constitutive rather than residues of the class system.

Type:Article
Title:Departing the margins - Social class and later life in a second modernity
DOI:10.1177/1440783306066724
Keywords:decommodification, identity, old age, second modernity, social class, WELFARE-STATE, UNITED-STATES, 3RD AGE, AUSTRALIA, EMERGENCE, CONSUMERS, PENSIONS, TENSIONS, GERMANY, HEALTH
UCL classification:UCL > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Division of Psychiatry
UCL > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Medical Sciences > Medicine (Division of)

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