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Theorizing Gerontology: The Case of Old Age, Professional Power, and Social Policy in the United Kingdom

Abstract

This article examines the interrelationship between old age, professional power, and social policy. In particular, dominant theoretical models in social gerontology are reviewed and an alternative framework for understanding social gerontological issues—Foucauldian gerontology—is advanced. Foucauldian narratives are employed to delineate the historical relationship between professional social work and recent social policy for older people in the United Kingdom. In addition, a Foucauldian framework employed to examine identity formation, professional practices, and policy narratives enriches and widens the disciplinary subject matter of theorizing aging studies. The structure of this article is in three parts: review of theories of aging with an introduction of Foucault's potential contribution to gerontological analysis, the historical overview of the instigation of professional intervention in modernity and the changing roles and responsibilities in relation to older people utilizing Foucault's (1977) genealogical method, and the exploration and application of Foucault's key notion of governmentality (1977; Rose & Miller, 1992) in the analysis of social policy for older people.

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Powell, J.L. Theorizing Gerontology: The Case of Old Age, Professional Power, and Social Policy in the United Kingdom. Journal of Aging and Identity 6, 117–135 (2001). https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1011308231981

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1011308231981

  • aging
  • social policy
  • Foucault
  • professional power
  • social control
  • governmentality