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  • Author or Editor: Martin Hyde x
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Population ageing and globalisation represent two of the most radical social transformations that have occurred. This book provides, for the first time, an accessible overview of how they interact.

Ageing has been conventionally framed within the boundaries of nation states, yet demographic changes, transmigration, financial globalization and the global media have rendered this perspective problematic. This much-needed book is the first to apply theories of globalisation to gerontology, including Appadurai’s theory, allowing readers to understand the implications of growing older in a global age.

This comprehensive introduction to globalisation for gerontologists is part of the Ageing in a Global Context series, published in association with the British Society of Gerontology. It will be of particular interest to advanced undergraduate and postgraduate students and academics in this area.

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This chapter critically maps the global landscapes of the politics of ageing and later life. This is important because any understanding of the relationship between globalization and ageing needs also to address the political dimensions that are specific to each polity. Three key emerging epistemic communities around ageing and later life are identified in this chapter. These are 1) the anti-ageing enterprise, 2) the new pension orthodoxy and 3) the active ageing epistemic community. Their existence once again questions the dominance of methodological nationalism in the formulation of both the policies and the cultures of old age. They also challenge the too simplistic notion that globalization is an unstoppable juggernaut with its own deterministic logic. Instead, the chapter reveals that no one spatial logic is dominant, but that in order to be successful these communities must align groups across a wide range of spatialities.

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This chapter introduces the main arguments and questions that are addressed throughout the book. The key argument is that, although we are witnessing the decline of the nation-state as the dominant spatial unit through which to understand these political, economic and social processes, the system of nation-states has yet to be fully replaced by a new spatial order. It is argued that this represents a key challenge to many gerontological theories that either take the nation-state as their frame of reference or assume that globalization has replaced all other spaces. Hence gerontology often appears to be trapped within one or other of these spatial contexts and only addresses questions that seem specific to whatever level seems dominant. This chapter outlines the key message in the book that cautions against these tendencies before moving on to describe each of the chapters in the book.

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This chapter covers the ways in which the main social gerontological theories have dealt with the issues of space. Rather than repeat the conventional narrative about the historical development of these theories, they are divided into groups which correspond to two broad historical periods; the modern and the late modern. The main argument here is that the gerontological theories that took modernist spaces, such as the nation state, as their reference for understanding ageing are being fundamentally challenged by the emergence of these new spaces and the relations between them.

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The aim in this chapter is to contribute to the growing academic interest in the spatial relations of ageing and later life. In so doing, the arguments and evidence for the existence of global, regional, national and local, forms of space are addressed. It is argued that we need to be aware of the evidence that all of these spaces now co-exist and that it is important to develop theoretical models that allow us to examine the interrelations between the different spatial levels and how these impact on the experience of ageing. This is important, as these new spatial logics challenge the assumptions that underpin the ‘methodological nationalism’ of many modernist accounts of ageing and later life. In this chapter it is argued that the current world order needs to be understood not as a single spatial logic but rather as a number of linked, overlapping processes.

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This chapter critically assesses the data on the health of older people across different spatial scales as well as the evidence for the impact of globalization on healthcare spending. Drawing on data from a wide range of international studies, the analysis shows that there is a great deal of international variation in the health of older people. Hence, far from witnessing the emergence of a global time-space of ageing and later life international and regional differences sit alongside global trends. Similarly, there is limited evidence that global economic flows have had a major impact on the provision of healthcare for older people. The data here lend greater support to welfare regime theory than those who predicted a race to the bottom in spending on healthcare.

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Economic issues form a key dimension for both globalization and social gerontology. Drawing on data from a range of international studies, this chapter critically assesses the extent to which we identify a global convergence around labour market participation rates, retirement age, financial circumstances and pension policies. It also looks at the impact of globalization on the employment and financial circumstances of older people. The analyses reveal that, although new temporalities of ageing and later life have opened up around work and retirement, there is little evidence of an emerging global economic time-space of ageing and later life. Globalization also does not seem to have much of a direct impact on the economic circumstances of older people. International and regional variations in work and income point to the importance of non-global political and economic structures for older people.

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This chapter explores the ways in which belonging and identity are produced and re-produced along what can be called the ethnoscapes of ageing and later life. In this chapter, data from a wide range of studies are used to explore how older people around the world think about ageing and old age and whether new co-ordinates for identities in later life are emerging. The analyses presented in this chapter lend further support to the argument that there has been a radical transformation in the temporal foundations of ageing and late life. The analyses also lend some support to the argument that the shift to late or second modernity has rendered problematic the fixed and stable reference points that people relied on in the past to form their identities and to ‘know their place’.

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This chapter draws together the evidence from the preceding chapters to evaluate the arguments set out in the book. The main conclusion is that there does not seem to be one single global time-space of later life. Yet neither is it the case that we see the continuing presence of a set of mutually exclusive time-spaces of ageing and later life contained within separate nation-states. Instead the economic, political and cultural co-ordinates of later life are located in a series of overlapping, sometimes conflicting, and sometimes co-ordinated spatial logics and temporal frames. However the chapter ultimately concludes that these findings are conditional and compel us to develop new theoretical models within gerontology which would allow us to handle the complex interrelations between these spatial logics as they develop.

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Population ageing and globalisation represent two of the most radical and far reaching social transformations that have occurred since the middle of the last century. This book provides, for the first time, an accessible overview of how they interact. Ageing has been conventionally framed within the boundaries of nation states, yet demographic changes, transmigration, financial globalization and the global media have rendered this perspective problematic. This book critically applies theories of globalisation, notably Appadurai’s model of the landscapes of global modernity, to gerontology. In so doing the books aims to assess the impact of globalization on the experiences and expectations of ageing and later life. Drawing on data from a wide range of studies, the book explores the state of the health, financial circumstances, identity and sense of belonging of the world’s older population. The key argument presented in the book is that, although we are witnessing the decline of the nation-state as the dominant spatial unit through which to understand ageing and later life we are yet to witness the emergence of a global spatial order. The book concludes by arguing that the economic, political and cultural co-ordinates of later life have become increasingly located in a series of overlapping spatial logics encompassing the local, the national, the regional and the global.

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