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Social class in later lifePower, identity and lifestyle$
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Marvin Formosa and Paul Higgs

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9781447300588

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781447300588.001.0001

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The changing significance of social class in later life

The changing significance of social class in later life

(p.169) Ten The changing significance of social class in later life
Social class in later life

Paul Higgs

Marvin Formosa

Policy Press

The view that social class in old age was an epiphenomenon of earlier points in the life course has become less tenable as an explanation of class relationships in the retired population. The connections between consumption, lifestyle and class identity that have made simple inferences of class membership more difficult to assert are multiplied in later life. It could be argued that the nature of post-working life lifestyles and consumption are more defining of the statuses of retired people than their class identities. Although participation in leisure may be more structured by previous opportunities which reflect more closely occupational class, it is still difficult to see how this constitutes a separate dimension of class rather than resources and dispositions. Much more significant to the discussion of class is that retirement from paid employment has become increasingly contingent in terms of when (or how) it occurs and how it is to be financed. This is not to argue that retirement is free of the influences of the past but rather to accept that notions of early retirement have impacted on when post-working life begins and how much participation in the cultural arena of the third age is possible.

Keywords:   social class, later life, third age, critical gerontology, inequality, sociology of class, retirement

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