Retiring lives? Old age, work and welfare
Retiring lives? Old age, work and welfare

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Retiring lives? Old age, work and welfare

3 Pensions policies: the making and remaking of old age through the intersections of work and welfare

3.1 Introduction

In this section we look at the way in which the personal lives of older people have been socially constructed through pensions policies over the last century. As we saw above, welfare policies and changes in employment in the latter part of the nineteenth century and early part of the twentieth century constructed the personal lives of older people as ‘other’ to the emergent normal of relatively younger, ‘independent’ paid workers. Here, we explore the way pensions policies during the twentieth century became implicated in this process, and the complex set of interests that informed this. Enabling older workers to be ‘divided up’ and divided out of the domain of paid work, we explore how pension policies provided a conduit through which the personal lives of older people could be constituted in and through the domain of private and public welfare. We also investigate how shifting boundaries between work and welfare informed this process in a way that both reflected and reproduced social differences and inequalities of not only age, but also class, (dis)ability, gender, ‘race’ and sexuality.


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