XVII ISA World Congress of Sociology, Sociology on the move, Gothenburg, Sweden, July 2010


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Research Committee on
Sociology of Aging RC11

Programme Coordinator
Sara Arber, University of Surrey, UK, s.arber@surrey.ac.uk

Congress Programme


Sessions descriptions

Session 1: Gender, ageing and the body
Organizers:  Laura Hurd Clarke, University of British Columbia, Canada, laura.hurd.clarke@ubc.ca  and Julia Twigg, University of Kent, UK, J.M.Twigg@kent.ac.uk
Whilst it is recognized that men and women’s perceptions and experiences of their ageing bodies are different there has, until recently, been limited empirical and theoretical research into gender, ageing and the body. With an increasing interest in the significance of gender to how people experience their ageing bodies, the aim of this symposium is to bring together a series of papers that highlights men and women’s experiences and perceptions of growing older in gendered bodies.  This symposium will therefore provide important insights into the role of masculinities and feminities as well as explore the interplay between gender, ageing and the body. 

Session 2: Cultural representations of the ageing body
Organizers:  Wendy Martin, University of Reading, UK, W.P.Martin@reading.ac.uk  and  Julia Twigg, University of Kent, UK, J.M.Twigg@kent.ac.uk
There has been an increasing interest in the social, cultural and biological dimensions of our bodies as we grow older. Cultural approaches have, for example, highlighted the ways in which ageing bodies are given meaning within and by culture; and how biological processes of ageing are contingent on the social and cultural milieu in which we live. This symposium brings together a series of empirical and theoretical papers that will critically explore cultural representations of the ageing body. The aim of the symposium is therefore to highlight how ideas within culture about ageing and bodies can influence our understandings and experiences of the ageing body. 

Session 3: Caregiving and carework
Organizer: Anne Martin Matthews, University of British Columbia, Canada, amm@exchange.ubc.ca
The proposed session will focus on the relationship between the paid and unpaid labour of care. Papers focused on the training, recruitment and retention of paid care workers, and the global challenges of meeting anticipated needs for care will be especially welcome.

Session 4: Worlds of difference in qualities of life for older people living in developing and developed countries
Joint session of RC11 Sociology of Aging [host committee] and RC55 Social Indicators

Session 5: The use of technology in informal care
Organizer: Andreas Hoff, Univeristy of Oxford, UK, andreas.hoff@ageing.ox.ac.uk
So-called ‘smart home’ technologies, health monitoring techniques and assistive technologies counterbalancing the impact of physical, cognitive, vision, and hearing impairment are beginning to revolutionise formal and informal care provision. These technologies have the potential to improve care recipients’ well-being substantially. ‘Telecare’ technologies can also help family carers monitoring the person in their care using various sensors placed around the care recipient’s home, taking immediate action if needed, without being physically present. However, gains in physical ability and greater independence may come at a high price: a less intimate caring relationship, in which the care recipient becomes monitored from a distance and ‘remote-controlled’. This session will explore how the use of modern technologies changes the caring relationship between care giver and care recipient in informal care, including the benefits arising from such technologies, and the possible emergence of new risks. 

Session 6: Challenges facing researchers in ageing in 2010
Organizer: Susan Feldman, Monash University, Australia, Susan.Feldman@monash.edu.au
The international community of researchers engaged in generating knowledge about the experience of growing older continues to expand, yet researchers in this field continue to face a range of challenges as they strive to undertake high quality, well funded and published research. This session will provide the opportunity for RC 11 members - experienced and emerging researchers alike, to share their experiences and offer insights into how some of the substantial challenges may be addressed at a local, national and international level.

Session 7: Ageing societies and the welfare state
Organizer: Kathrin Komp, VU University Amsterdam, Netherlands,  k.komp@fsw.vu.nl
The interplay of ageing societies and the welfare state is at the centre of many contemporary debates. On the one hand, the influence of the welfare state on ageing societies is stressed, for example the influence of the welfare state on the reshaping of the life-course and on social inequalities among older persons. On the other hand, the influence of ageing societies on the welfare state is discussed, for example leading to the introduction of strategies to counter the pressure that ageing societies exert on social insurances. In the session, both kinds of causal influences will be discussed.

Session 8: Ageism: Structures and agency   
Organizers:  Lars Andersson,  Linköping University, Sweden, Lars.Andersson@isv.liu.se and Lucie Vidovićová,  Masaryk University, Czech Republic, Lucie.Vidovic@seznam.cz
Although ageism is a widely used concept in social theory, policy and in public debates, there seems to be little consensus about its origins, and how to integrate its explicit and subtle expressions. This session will provide the starting point for discussions on determining structures and the agency of older people in different societies.

Session 9: Older workers and retirement: Conflicting trends
Organizer: John Williamson, Boston College, USA, jbw@bc.edu   
Over recent years, older workers have been encouraged to remain in the labour market for longer and state pension/retirement ages have increased in many western countries.  Age discrimination legislation, plus reductions in the value of state pensions have also encouraged delayed retirement or return to employment following formal retirement.  In contrast, the looming ‘global recession’ may mean that older workers are the first to lose their jobs or will be encouraged to leave the labour market to ‘make way’ for the younger unemployed.  The session will discuss the nature and implications for older people of these conflicting trends.

Session 10: Business Meeting

Session 11: Grandparenting and inter-generational dynamics
Organizer: Virpi Timonon and Ciara O'Dwyer,Trinity College Dublin, Ireland, timonenv@tcd.ie
Grandparents have always played an important role in family life, but over the last twenty years, many have taken on increased responsibility for their grandchildren due to changes in families and society. Conversely, the capacity of some grandparents to be involved in the lives of their grandchildren has been diminished as a result of geographical distance and divorce. Grandparents are also parents, and their relationship with their own children can have a powerful mediating impact on the quantity and quality of relationships with grandchildren. Papers for this session should be focused on some aspects of relationships between two or more generations, and the impact of social and economic changes on these relationships.

Session 12: Media and ageing: Representations and consumption
Organizer:  Lucie Vidovićová, Masaryk University, Czech Republic, Lucie.Vidovic@seznam.cz
In the mainstream social theories are media accounted for one of the most important agents of the reality construction. In theories dealing with ageism and age discrimination the media is considered a source of the biased images of old age and ageing in society, and is regularly accused of under-representing older people. On the other hand, it is suggested that the media can play a very important role in the removal of negative images of aged people – by changing the presented images. This session will provide empirical evidence of the ways that the media present old age and how (and if) there is change in the media consumption between cohorts and age groups in the context of ageing populations.

Session 13: Ethnicithy and gender in studies of aging, old age and elderly care
Organizer:  Sandra Torres,  Linköping University, Sweden, Sandra.torres@isv.liu.se
The manner in which social positions such as age, gender and ethnicity interact with one another to bring about different outcomes has been the topic of great debate for some years. Although numerous advancements have been made in the way in which gender-oriented social gerontologists study how gender mediates the process of aging and the social position(s) that old age can be, the same does not hold true for ethnicity-aware gerontologists. This session aims to shed light on the implications that the idea of intersectionality can have for studies of old age and elderly care that aim to be both gender and ethnicity-aware.

Session 14: Aging of the aged: The case of the oldest old (80+)
Organizer:  P. K. B. Nayar, Centre for Gerontological Studies, India, pkbnayar@rediffmail.com
There is a tendency to treat all the old as a homogenous category and to design policies and programmes on that basis. However, the oldest old, those who are 80 years and over, are more likely to be economically more dependent, socially more deprived, psychologically more depressed and physically more disabled and diseased than the rest of the old (60-79 age group). Because of this situation, their needs and problems cannot be adequately and appropriately met by the policies and programmes designed with the young old in mind. What makes the problem critical is that, their proportion in the older population is increasing very rapidly. Over the next 4 decades, there will be a more than four-fold increase in their numbers. The session invites papers focusing on the oldest old, for example problems of family support, social-psychological support and health care support. Issues relating to the oldest old can also be examined from the point of view of the UN Principles for Older Persons - Independence, Participation, Care, Self-fulfilment and Dignity

Session 15: Differences and similarities in the pace and consequences of population ageing in developed and developing countries
Organizer:   László Kovács, Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University, Japan, laszlo.kovacs.1966@gmail.com
The session welcomes scholars with different backgrounds both from the developing and developed part of the world with an interest in the change in the age distribution of the population and encourages potential contributors to present their research findings about demographical, sociological, psychological aspects of the growing proportion of elderly population, as well as the economical, political (in particular socio-political) connotations of the change in the age-structure of population.

Session 16: Growing older in transnational communities
Organizers: Christina Victor,  University of Reading, UK,   c.r.victor@reading.ac.uk, Wendy Martin, University of Reading, UK, W.P.Martin@reading.ac.uk and Vanessa Burholt, University of Swansea, UK, v.burholt@swansea.ac.uk
In recent years there has been an increasing interest in transnational networks and identities as people grow older. Globalisation is affecting older people directly or indirectly through the processes of migration, such as, people growing older in their nations of settlement, relocation to a new country during mid to later life, or experiences of adult children migrating. Transnational networks moreover highlight interconnections between nations of origin and nations of settlement, for example, in relation to economic and cultural phenomena and how experiences of families, care and support are continually being exchanged and rewritten. The aim of this symposium is to bring together a series of papers that explore the interplay of transnational networks, gender and ageing; and the lived experiences, family lives and social networks of older people living in transnational communities.

Session 17: Older people’s interest representation and the politics of old age
Organizers: Martha Doyle, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland, martha.doyle@tcd.ie and Virpi Timonen, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland, timonenv@tcd.ie  
Older people’s interest groups have been in existence for a considerable length of time in some countries (such as the United States), and are relatively new additions to the political landscape in many others. Very little is know of the key characteristics and agendas of these groups and of the old-age specific activities of other relevant actors such as trade unions; even less is known of the ways in which they seek to influence policies, the channels they utilise to exert influence, and the impact (if any) that they have on policy-making in ageing societies. The session invites papers that analyse the nature, origins, agendas and impact of interest organisations that represent older people.

Joint sessions hosted by other RC

Joint Session: Older people's contributions to societal well-being
Joint session of RC11 Sociology of Aging and RC55 Social Indicators [host committee]

Joint sessionAgeing populations and leisure
Joint session of RC11Sociology of Aging and RC13 Sociology of Leisure [host committee]

Joint session: Aging well and its’ societal determinants in international perspective
Joint session of RC10 Participation, Organizational Democracy and Self-Management [host committee] and RC11 Sociology of Aging  

Integrative sessions

Integrative session 8: The changing role of grandparents across diverse societies
Integrative session of Research Committees RC06 Family Research, RC11 Sociology of Aging and RC53 Sociology of Childhood