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  • Author or Editor: Paul Martin 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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The UK is playing a world-leading role in the contemporary development of genomics – the decoding of our DNA – creating powerful technology platforms that may have profound consequences for the future of healthcare, civil liberties and personal identity. These developments have moved centre stage during the pandemic with the massive increase in gene sequencing for tracking coronavirus. This chapter will examine the social implications of the growing use of genomics technologies, and analyse how they are contributing to an important shift in how we understand health. This emphasizes the biological and individualized nature of disease in contrast to the social determinants of health and illness, supporting an increasingly biomedicalized understanding of the human.

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Cutting across disciplines from science and technology studies to the arts and humanities, this thought-provoking collection engages with key issues of social exclusion, inequality, power and knowledge in the context of COVID-19.

The authors use the crisis as a lens to explore the contours of contemporary societies and lay bare the ways in which orthodox conceptions of the human condition can benefit a privileged few.

Highlighting the lived experiences of marginalised groups from around the world, this is a boundary spanning critical intervention to ongoing debates about the pandemic. It presents new ways of thinking in public policy, culture and the economy and points the way forward to a more equitable and inclusive human future.

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From passive to active consumption in Britain

Targeted as the ‘grey consumer’, people retiring now participated in the creation of the post-war consumer culture. These consumers have grown older but have not stopped consuming.

Based on extensive analysis over two years, this unique book examines the engagement of older people with consumer society in Britain since the 1960s. It charts the changes in the experience of later life in the UK over the last 50 years, the rise of the ‘individualised consumer citizen’ and what this means for health and social policies.

The book will appeal to students, lecturers, researchers and policy analysts. It will provide material for teaching on undergraduate courses and postgraduate courses in sociology, social policy and social gerontology. It will also have considerable appeal to private industry engaged with older consumers as well as to voluntary and non-governmental organisations addressing ageing in Britain.

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In the UK regeneration strategies and patterns of local service provision have usually been imposed from the top down. Most communities have had little influence over plans to revitalise their areas or the design and delivery of services. The ‘New Labour’ government has emphasised its commitment to involving local people in a wide range of policy decisions relating to employment, health, crime reduction, education, local government services and regeneration. According to ministers an enhanced role for local people will increase local accountability and improve service standards. Previous experience of community-focused initiatives suggests however that there are significant obstacles to increasing public participation. Moreover, the present government’s commitment to ‘bottom-up’ initiatives and local experimentation may be at odds with its strong centralising instinct and continuing insistence on ‘zero tolerance of failure’.

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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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