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Ageing, meaning and social structureConnecting critical and humanistic gerontology$
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Jan Baars, Joseph Dohmen, Amanda Grenier, and Chris Phillipson

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9781447300908

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781447300908.001.0001

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Rethinking agency in late life: structural and interpretive approaches1

Rethinking agency in late life: structural and interpretive approaches1

Chapter:
(p.55) Four Rethinking agency in late life: structural and interpretive approaches1
Source:
Ageing, meaning and social structure
Author(s):

Amanda Grenier

Chris Phillipson

Publisher:
Policy Press
DOI:10.1332/policypress/9781447300908.003.0004

Over the course of the 1990s and 2000s, debates focused around the period of the 'fourth age' as a complex socio-cultural construct. These contributions have moved beyond the use of the 'fourth age' as an uncritical age-based criterion in research samples (e.g., 80+) or simply a marker of eligibility for services. At the same time, they have produced a new set of challenges for interpretations of the 'fourth age'. This chapter uses a framework derived from critical gerontology in order to articulate the tensions and contradictions inherent in the concept of agency with regards to the 'fourth age'. The chapter is divided into the following sections: first, the construct of the 'fourth age' is clarified; second, themes in the literature on agency are reviewed; third, the challenges and contradictions presented by agency and the 'fourth age' are outlined together; finally, the chapter concludes with a review of issues for further research and development.

Keywords:   Agency, Social Structure, Third Age, Fourth Age, Healthy ageing, Impairment, The body

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