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  • Author or Editor: Richard A. Settersten Jr x
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Precarity is at the heart of human experience. In every period of life, all people would seem to face some minimal types and levels of precarity simply in being alive and in having to navigate an ever-changing world. At the same time, precarity is particularistic: some kinds of precarity may be unique in different periods of life, and some people and groups have more of it, or more serious types, than others. To understand the sources and consequences of precarity in later life, it is important to understand the life course: how individuals’ past experiences affect later ones, and how social forces open and close opportunities and structure pathways through life. A life course perspective helps reveal where, when, how, and for whom precarity occurs, and what legacies it carries in the lives of individuals, families, and societies. The chapter covers 12 key lessons about how life course dynamics matter in creating, minimizing, or eliminating the precarity of ageing.

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Understanding Insecurity and Risk in Later Life

What risks and insecurities do older people face in a time of both increased longevity and widening inequality?

This edited collection develops an exciting new approach to understanding the changing cultural, economic and social circumstances facing different groups of older people. Exploring a range of topics, the chapters provide a critical review of the concept of precarity, highlighting the experiences of ageing that occur within the context of societal changes tied to declining social protection. Drawing together insights from leading voices across a range of disciplines, the book underscores the pressing need to address inequality across the life course and into later life.

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The chapter summarises the importance of ideas associated with precarity and precariousness for understanding later life. The discussion is framed within the context of the development of critical gerontology. The chapter considers how the concept of precarity extends our understanding of the range of insecurities faced in later life. It also considers how the example of a human rights perspective can be used to challenge some of the vulnerabilities experienced by older people.

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The chapter sets the foundation for the exploration of precarity and aging from a range of disciplinary backgrounds, critical perspectives, and contexts. It begins by outlining the concept of precarity and precariousness in fields such as geography and labour studies, examines how the concept has been applied to late life, and considers its relevance to the field of ageing. It establishes precarity as lens for drawing attention to insecurity and risk in later life. The chapter then poses a series of questions to guide reflection and ground the debates pursued by authors throughout the book, followed by a brief overview of the chapters ahead.

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This book examines some of the challenges facing older people, given a context of rising life expectancy, cuts to the welfare state, and widening economic and social inequalities. It explores precarity and ageing from a range of disciplinary backgrounds, critical perspectives, and contexts. Although cultural representations and policy discourses depict older people as a group healthier and more prosperous than ever, many older people experience ageing amid insecurities that emerge in later life or are carried forward as a consequence of earlier disadvantage. The collection of chapters develops a distinctive approach to understanding the changing cultural, economic and social circumstances that create precarity for different groups of older people. The aim of the book is to explore what insights the concept of precarity might bring to an understanding of ageing across the life course, especially in the context of the radical socio-political changes affecting the lives of older people. In doing so, it draws attention both to altered forms of ageing, but also to changing social and cultural contexts, and realities that challenge the assumption that older people will be protected by existing social programmes or whatever resources that can be marshalled privately.

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This book examines some of the challenges facing older people, given a context of rising life expectancy, cuts to the welfare state, and widening economic and social inequalities. It explores precarity and ageing from a range of disciplinary backgrounds, critical perspectives, and contexts. Although cultural representations and policy discourses depict older people as a group healthier and more prosperous than ever, many older people experience ageing amid insecurities that emerge in later life or are carried forward as a consequence of earlier disadvantage. The collection of chapters develops a distinctive approach to understanding the changing cultural, economic and social circumstances that create precarity for different groups of older people. The aim of the book is to explore what insights the concept of precarity might bring to an understanding of ageing across the life course, especially in the context of the radical socio-political changes affecting the lives of older people. In doing so, it draws attention both to altered forms of ageing, but also to changing social and cultural contexts, and realities that challenge the assumption that older people will be protected by existing social programmes or whatever resources that can be marshalled privately.

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This book examines some of the challenges facing older people, given a context of rising life expectancy, cuts to the welfare state, and widening economic and social inequalities. It explores precarity and ageing from a range of disciplinary backgrounds, critical perspectives, and contexts. Although cultural representations and policy discourses depict older people as a group healthier and more prosperous than ever, many older people experience ageing amid insecurities that emerge in later life or are carried forward as a consequence of earlier disadvantage. The collection of chapters develops a distinctive approach to understanding the changing cultural, economic and social circumstances that create precarity for different groups of older people. The aim of the book is to explore what insights the concept of precarity might bring to an understanding of ageing across the life course, especially in the context of the radical socio-political changes affecting the lives of older people. In doing so, it draws attention both to altered forms of ageing, but also to changing social and cultural contexts, and realities that challenge the assumption that older people will be protected by existing social programmes or whatever resources that can be marshalled privately.

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This commentary reinforces a central commitment of life course research: to make visible how social change matters in human lives. This paper captures a moderated conversation with four senior scholars about how they came to study the intersection between social change and life experience, why this intersection is so important to life course studies, and theoretical and methodological imperatives and challenges that come with it.

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