Publication details

New Social Roles of Older People (conference session)

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Year of publication 2016
Type Conference abstract
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Social Studies

Description For this session we invite papers looking into the dynamics of social roles in (post)modern societies. In his classical essay “Flexibility and the social roles of the retired” from 1954, Robert Havighurst claims that “great changes in social role occur between the ages of 50 and 75“. He talks about roles that intensify (such as homemaker), diminish (e.g. worker, parent, spouse, lover,...), intensify with special effort (e.g. active citizen), or emerge for the first time (e.g. grandparent). It is clear that this typology should be re-opened for discussion in the light of the increasing heterogeneity and individualisation of the life cycle, the loosening of age-related norms, and the reorganisation of life´s transition timetables, which change the numbers and intensities of the roles played by older adults, and also the ways in which they are played. Additional complexity is brought by new roles emerging beside the grandparental kind, such as “active-ager”, on-line dating person, etc., and by the redefinition of what the socially or economically valuable and desirable roles of and for older people are, as well as by the issues of the work–life balance in later life and gendered role sets, etc. For this session we welcome papers addressing the evolution, prevalence and quality of the “new” social roles of ageing people, both from an empirical and theoretical perspective. Papers dealing with international comparison are encouraged and early stage researchers are welcome.
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