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Not just old and sick - the 'will to health' in later life

Higgs, P; Leontowitsch, M; Stevenson, F; Jones, IR; (2009) Not just old and sick - the 'will to health' in later life. AGEING & SOCIETY , 29 (5) 687 - 707. 10.1017/S0144686X08008271. Green open access

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Abstract

The end of the ‘Golden Age’ of welfare capitalism in the 1970s was the prelude to a period of greater individualisation within societies and was accompanied by an increase in the importance of consumption as a way of organising social relations. During the same period there was also an expansion in the discourses aimed at enhancing the government of the autonomous self. One such discourse operates around what has been termed the ‘will to health’: it suggests that health has become a required goal for individual behaviour and has become synonymous with health itself. The generational groups whose lifecourses were most exposed to these changes are now approaching later life. We explore the extent to which social transformations related to risk, consumption and individualisation are reflected in the construction of later-life identities around health and ageing. We examine how the growth in health-related ‘technologies of the self’ have fostered a distinction between natural and normal ageing, wherein the former is associated with coming to terms with physical decline and the latter associated with maintaining norms of self-care aimed at delaying such decline. Finally, we consider anti-ageing medicine as a developing arena for the construction of later-life identities and discuss the implications of the social changes for researching later life.

Type: Article
Title: Not just old and sick - the 'will to health' in later life
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1017/S0144686X08008271
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0144686X08008271
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © 2009 Cambridge University Press
Keywords: ageing, individualisation, 'will to health', third age
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Division of Psychiatry
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Epidemiology and Health
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Epidemiology and Health > Primary Care and Population Health
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/66244
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