Phillipson (2003) 'Globalisation and the Future of Ageing:
Developing a Critical Gerontology'
Sociological Research Online, vol. 8, no. 4, <http://www.socresonline.org.uk/8/4/phillipson.html>
To cite articles published in Sociological Research Online, please reference the above information and include paragraph numbers if necessary
Received: 27/11/2003 Accepted: 17/11/2003 Published: 28/11/2003
Orthodox social gerontology has treated later life as if it were constituted by inventories of social need and social exclusion. This is not how older people live and experience their lives. The growth of retirement as a third age - a potential crown of life - has been constructed primarily in terms of leisure and self-fulfilment. While these practices may be most fully enacted by a relatively small section of the population of older people, culturally this group represents the aspirations of many, whether or not they are able to realize such a lifestyle.
Today, virtually all nation-states have gradually become enmeshed in and functionally part of a larger pattern of global transformations and global flows...Transnational networks and relations have developed across virtually all areas of human activity. Goods, capital, people, knowledge, communications and weapons, as well as crime, pollutants, fashions and beliefs, rapidly move across territorial boundaries... Far from this being a world of 'discrete civilisations' or simply an international order of states, it has become a fundamentally interconnected global order, marked by intense patterns of exchange, as well as by clear patterns of power, hierarchy and unevenness.
Its overriding objective is to serve the interests of property owners and shareholders, and it has a firm belief, effectively an ideological one, that all obstacles to do that - regulation, controls, trade unions, taxation, public ownership, etc - are unjustified and should be removed. Its ideology is that shareholder value must be maximised, that labour markets should be 'flexible' and that capital should be free to invest and disinvest in countries at will... It's a very febrile capitalism, but for all that and its short-termism it has been a very effective transmission agent for the new technologies and for creating the new global industries and markets. It's a tool both of job generation and of great inequality.
The function of such arguments is to create a sense of inevitability and scientific certainty that public pension provision will fail. In so far as this strategy succeeds it creates a self-fulfilling prophecy. If people believe the 'experts' who say publicly sponsored PAYG systems cannot be sustained, they are more likely to act in ways that mean they are unsustainable in practice. Certainly, in Britain and elsewhere in Europe, the state pension is an extremely popular institution. To have it removed or curtailed creates massive opposition. Only by demoralising the population with the belief that it is demographically unsustainable has room for the private financiers been created and a mass pensions market formed.
To extend rights of access for private firms, the WTO, with the backing of powerful trading blocs, multinational corporations, and US and European governments, is attempting to use regulatory reform to challenge limitations on private sector involvement. But this amounts to a challenge which lies at the heart of social welfare systems in Europe. The new criteria proposed at the WTO threaten some of the key mechanisms that allow governments to guarantee health care for their populations by requiring governments to demonstrate that their pursuit of social policy goals are least restrictive and least costly to trade.
[O]lder people's poverty is still not a core concern in the social, economic and ethical debates of our time. Their right to development is routinely denied, with ageing seen as a minority interest or case for special pleading. Poverty and social exclusion remain the main stumbling blocks to the realisation of the human rights of older people worldwide.
It is remarkable how unconcerned the World Bank, the IMF and global organisations are about these trends. The Bank's World Development Report for 2000 even said that rising income inequality ''should not be seen as negative''… Such lack of attention shows that to call these world organisations is misleading. They may be world bodies in the sense that almost all states are members, but they think in state-centric rather than global ways.
The world was, in fact, very different in the forties, when the bulk of Asia and Africa was still under colonial rule of one kind or another, when the tolerance of insecurity and of poverty was much greater…and when there was little understanding of the huge global prospects of democracy, economic development and human rights in the world.
The main problem [appears to be] that those conditions and social forces which made national welfare states possible, e.g. the existence of a state with legitimate authority for rule-making and rule-enforcement, electoral competition and representative government, strong industrial action and protest movements threatening the economic and social stability of nations, nationalism and nation-building imperatives, are unavailable at the international-level. Moreover, globalisation is disempowering citizens within the nation-state as far as social rights are concerned, without providing them with any leverage globally. At the same time, trans-national corporations and the global marketplace have been empowered, hugely, through financial deregulation and capital mobility
Orthodox economic liberalism and inhumane structural adjustment appear to be giving way to a concern on the part of the [World Bank] and the IMF with the social consequences of globalization. International development assistance is concerned to focus on social development. United Nations agencies are increasingly troubled by the negative social consequences of globalization…[there is a shift] away from a politics of liberalism to a global politics of social concern.
ARBER, S. and GINN, S. (1993) Connecting Gender and Ageing. Buckingham: Open University Press.
BARLOW, M. and CLARKE, T. (2001) Global Showdown. Ontario: Stoddart.
BAUMAN, Z. (2001) Community: Seeking Safety in an Insecure World. Oxford:Polity Press.
BECK, U. (1992) Risk Society. London: Sage Books.
BECK, U. (2001) What is Globalization? Oxford: Polity Press.
BECK, U. (2001) 'Living your own Life in a Runaway World: Individualisation, Globalisation and Politics', in W. Hutton and A. Giddens (editors) On the Edge. London: Jonathan Cape.
BLACKBURN, R. (2002) Banking on Death. London: Verso Books.
CASTELLS, M. (1996) The Rise of the Network Society. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers.
DEACON, B. (2000) Globalisation and Social Policy: the Threat to Equitable Welfare. Occasional Paper No.5, Globalism and Social Policy Programme, GASPP.
CLARKE, P. and MARSHALL, V. (2001) 'Social Theory and the Meaning of Illness in Later Life.' Paper presented at the 17th World Congress of the International Association of Gerontology, Vancouver.
COLE, T., ACHENBAUM, W.A., JAKOBI, P.L. and KASTENBAUM, R. (1993) Voices and Visions of Ageing: Toward a Critical Gerontology. New York: Springer Publishing.
EPSTEIN, H. (2001) 'Time of Indifference', New York Review of Books , April 12, pp.33- 38.
ESTES, C. and Associates (2001) Social Policy and Ageing. Thousand Oaks: Sage.
ESTES, C. and PHILLIPSON, C. (2002) 'The Globalisation of Capital, The Welfare State and Old Age Policy', International Journal of Health Services, Vol. 32, No.2. pp. 279-297.
GIDDENS, A. (1991) Modernity and Self-Identity. Cambridge: Polity Press.
GIDDENS, A. and HUTTON, W. (2000) 'In Conversation'. In W. Hutton and A. Giddens (editors) On the Edge: Living with Global Capitalism. London: Jonathan Cape.
GILLEARD, C. and HIGGS, P. (2000) Cultures of Ageing. London: Prentice Hall.
GILLION, C. et al. (2000) Social Security Pensions: Development and Reform. London: ILO.
HAGESTAD, G. and DANNEFER, D. (2001) 'Concepts and Theories of Aging: Beyond Microfication in Social Science Approaches', in The Handbook of Aging (Fifth Edition), R. Binstock and L. George (editors) San Diego: Academic Press.
HELD, D., McGREW, A., GOLDBLATT, D. and PERRATON, J. (1999) Global Transformations, Oxford: Polity Press.
HELP AGE INTERNATIONAL (2000) The Mark of a Noble Society. London: HelpAge International.
HOLTZMAN, R.A. (1997) A World Bank Perspective on Pension Reform. Paper prepared for the joint ILO-OECD Workshop on the Development and Reform of Pension Schemes, Paris, December.
KAMINSKY,M. (1993) 'Definitional Ceremonies: Depolitizing and Re-enchanting the Culture of Age?' in T. Cole, W. A. Achenbaum, P. Jakobi and R. Kastenbaum (editors) Voices and Visions: Toward a Critical Gerontology. New York: Springer Publishing.
KENYON, G. (1996) 'Ethical Issues in Ageing and Biography', Ageing and Society, Vol. 16, No. 6, pp. 659-677.
LASH, S. and URRY, J. (1987) The End of Organised Capitalism. Cambridge: Polity Press.
MINKLER, M. and ESTES, C. (1999) Critical Gerontology: Perspectives from Political and Moral Economy. New York: Baywood Publishing.
MINNS, R. (2001) The Cold War in Welfare: Stock Markets Versus Pensions. London: Verso.
MISHRA, R. (1999) Globalization and the Welfare State. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.
OECD (2001) Ageing and Income: Financial Resources and Retirement in 9 OECD Countries. Paris: OECD.
PAPASTERGIADIS, N. (2001) The Turbulence of Migration. Oxford: Polity Press.
PHILLIPSON, C. (1998) Reconstructing Old Age. London: Sage.
POLIVKA, L. (2001) 'Globalisation, Population Aging and Ethics', The Journal of Aging and Identity, Vol. 6. No. 3, pp. 147-164.
POLLOCK, A. and PRICE, D. (2000) 'Rewriting the Regulations: How the World Made Organisation Could Accelerate Privatisation in Health Care Systems', The Lancet. 356, pp. 1995-2000.
SCHARF, T., PHILLIPSON, C., SMITH, A. and KINGSTON, P. (2001) Growing Older in Socially Excluded Areas. London: Help the Aged.
SCHOLTE, J.A. (2000) Globalisation: a Critical Introduction. London: Palgrave.
SEN, A. (2000) 'Freedom's market'. The Observer, 25 June.
TANZI, V. 'Globalisation and the Future of Social Protection', Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Vol.49, No. 1, pp. 116-127.
URRY, J. (2000) Sociology Beyond Societies. London: Routledge.
VINCENT, J (2003) Old Age. London: Routledge.
WADE, R. (2001) 'Winners and Losers', The Economist, 28 April, pp. 93-97.
WHITFIELD, D. < http://www.centre.public.org.uk/briefings/pfi.html> WORLD BANK (1994) Averting the Old Age Crisis. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
WORLD HEALTH ORGANISATION (2000) Health Life Expectancy Rankings, Press Release. Geneva: WHO.
WORLD HEALTH ORGANISATION (2001) Health and Ageing: a Discussion Paper. Geneva: WHO.
YEATES, N. (2001) Globalisation and Social Policy. London: Sage.