Social Theory & Health

, Volume 11, Issue 3, pp 271–284 | Cite as

‘Disturbances in the field’: The challenge of changes in ageing and later life for social theory and health

  • Paul Higgs
Original Article


This article starts from an observation that while ageing and old age seem to be all around us, this reality has not yet penetrated into most accounts, theoretical or otherwise of the changing nature of health and illness in the contemporary world. Social scientists (and particularly those of a theoretical bent) have only been partially aware of the issues surrounding ageing and the transformation of old age into a very different later life than that experienced by previous generations. This article seeks to question this omission by pointing out why a refreshed focus on ageing and later life would extend our understanding of the position of health in contemporary society and allow us to better conceptualise the wider processes that are redefining the social world.


ageing retirement social theory health third age 


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Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paul Higgs
    • 1
  1. 1.Mental Health Sciences, University College LondonLondonUK

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