Social Divisions in Later Life: Classes and Corporeal Categories

Wed 3rd Apr 2019

Later life is no longer the clearly defined stage of life it once was. Rather it has become marked by increasing diversity, new forms of identity and distinct life styles. These have exacerbated old forms of inequality and led to the emergence of new divisions in later life. This symposium addresses two of those social divisions: one related to social class, the other related to corporeal distinction. These talks are preliminary versions from the authors’ upcoming book, The Social Divisions of Later Life, to be published in 2020 by Policy Press.       

Classes in later life Chris Gilleard

The link between social class and old age is a question that has pre-occupied social gerontologists for nearly a half century. Often excluded from research and theorisation about social class inequalities and practices, the increased recognition of the importance of ageing has begun to move away from being a ‘residual category’ of other structuring processes and has become a topic in its own right. This presentation will seek to situate later life within approaches to class and assess how useful past and present thinking is for understanding the changing relationship between class and old age.

Bodies in later life 

This presentation will focus upon the divide between fitness and frailty and the role such categorisation of the body plays in fashioning the contemporary concerns, distinctions and life styles of older people. The key argument here is that age devalues disability as much as disability devalues age, and that the presence and extent of mental and physical impairment serves as a marker of social distinction as well as a divide that is sustained by the institutions of health and social care. In this context Chris Gilleard examines the way in which the body serves as a new vector of ‘precarity’, determining how far older people can realise other valued identities and pursue the opportunities of a third age. Finally, he looks at whether there is any scope for a technological resolution of this divide.


Please click here to access the presentations from the event


This seminar will be held in the Margam Suite at the Dragon Hotel, Kingsway, Swansea SA1 5LS from 2-4pm. It is a free event but we have a maximum of 50 places, so please ensure that you book early.

There is free parking subject to availability at the rear of the Dragon Hotel, but you will need to register your vehicle at the hotel reception to avoid being charged. There is also an NCP nearby.

We hope you will be able to join us for this prestigious event and look forward to welcoming you. Please email us at cadr@swansea.ac.uk to let us know if you have any special requirements and we will do our best to accommodate you.

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