From the President

Dear RC-11 members,

Hope this newsletter finds you all well! In some parts of the world, this is the summer season, which means that vacation-time is most likely over, and a new academic term is about to start. If that happens to be the case for you, I hope you had a relaxing time and were able to re-charge your batteries while on vacation! If not, I hope this ‘middle of the year period’ has not been too stressful.
Photo of Sandra Torres
This part of the year is synonymous with newsletter season for RC-11. The executive board of our research committee puts together two newsletters per year, and these usually come out in the beginning, and at the end of the year. Since the work we do as executive board members is work we do ‘on the side of our regular jobs’, we depend on all of you - the RC-11 community – for the news we share in our newsletters. Thus, in this (the second newsletter we put together), Anna Wanka (our communications officer) has assembled and edited an array of news sent to us by those of you who wanted to share information on their publications, newly financed research projects, future conferences etc. Thus, on behalf of Anna and the rest of the executive board of RC-11, let me say THANKS to all of you who send us ‘content’. Our newsletters depend on your input!

Let me now move on to the ‘theme per excellence’ of most president’s columns, i.e. insight into what the executive board has been up to behind the scenes since you last heard from us. In our previous newsletter, we mentioned that we had just submitted a grant-application to ISA (our ‘mother organization’) in order to access funds. The small fee you all pay to be a part of this research committee covers only a fraction of the costs of the activities that we offer. This is why ISA encourages the executive boards of each of its research committees to apply for extra funds. The maximum amount of funds that a committee can apply for is determined by the number of members in good standing that committees have. This is one of the many reasons why we – together with our officers at large - worked hard to get our membership numbers up last year. As you may remember from our last newsletter, we managed to get more members just in time for the cut-off date that ISA uses for budgetary purposes. Thus, we not only managed to secure a larger number of sessions to disseminate our research at the upcoming ISA Forum (in Porto Alegre, Brazil next year) and at the ISA World Congress (in Melbourne in 2022), we were also able to apply for a bigger grant from ISA. Thus, the first news we would like to share with you this time is that we were granted the funds we applied for and can therefore manage to offer a few more activities for you.

The grant means that we can continue the emerging scholar program that the previous executive board launched (a program that allows junior scholars to present their work at the world congress). This is great news since we are very much committed to this program, and were worried at one point that this would be a one-time-only-program due to lack of funds. In addition to offering these emerging scholars traveling grants at ISA’s next World Congress, the newly secured funds will allow us to offer bursaries to support junior scholars from the Global South to attend the ISA Forum next year. The grant will also cover a skills-based workshop for junior scholars at that forum since ISA is committed to offering opportunities to researchers in that part of the world, and our research committee wanted to be a part of those efforts. Thus, if you are an RC-11 member who resides in the Global South, are planning to attend the ISA Forum next year, and would like to participate in this workshop, keep an eye on our website for more information. We are still finalizing the theme of this skills-based workshop, we will team up with the local liaison that ISA offers to all executive committees in order to plan something that is appropriate for the setting. In the application, we described wanting to offer a workshop on publishing, conference presentations and/or the basic skills all junior scholars need so these are broadly the areas that we hope to do a workshop on while in Porto Alegre next year.

Most of the activities that our research committee offers are arranged in conjunction with the ISA Forum and the ISA World Congress. However, we – the executive board of RC-11 who is serving during the 2018-2022 period - is trying to exploit the opportunities that each of us get (in our capacities as independent researchers) to put our research community on the map. Thus, when I was invited to give a keynote lecture at the 7th International Congress of Gerontology in Costa Rica in July, the board and I decided to offer an RC-11 workshop at the congress on how to write for peer-reviewed journals in the Global North in the field of aging. This means that we have now ‘test-driven’ one of the workshops we hope to offer in Porto Alegre. As a member of an array of peer-reviewed journal editorial boards (whose training stems solely from paradigms in the Global North), our first RC-11 workshop on writing for these journals was enlightening not only for the 15+ junior scholars that attended it in Costa Rica, but also for me personally (who has been teaching this sort of thing for close to two decades and still learned a lot from hearing how they tackle peer-reviewers’ comments etc.).

Speaking of conferences, the deadline to submit abstracts for the ISA Forum which will be held in Porto Alegre next year is September 30th 2019. Our research committee will run at least 12 sessions at this forum so we are very much looking forward to receiving your abstracts. It is perhaps worth noting that I write “at least 12 sessions” because ISA assigned our committee a few more sessions for that event in response to the bump in membership numbers we got last year. Thus, at next year’s ISA Forum, RC-11 will host both an open session, and a poster session in addition to the theme-based sessions that you all proposed (btw thanks to all of you who proposed a session!!). This means that if the themes our members proposed when we put together the program for Porto Alegre do not fit your interests, you can now submit an abstract to our open session, and/or our poster session. In other words, if you have not yet submitted an abstract to next year’s forum, check the ISA website, look for RC-11 sessions, and submit one before the deadline.

Looking forward to bumping into you at aging-related events (and hoping to see you in Porto Alegre next year if not earlier)!

Prof. Sandra Torres (Uppsala University, Sweden)
President of RC-11

Upcoming ISA Forum 2020

The IV ISA Forum of Sociology will be held in Porto Alegre, Brazil, July 14-18, 2020. The ISA Forum of Sociology is designed as a mid-term meeting of Research Committees, Working Groups and Thematic Groups combined with the Business Meeting of the ISA Research Council.

RC11 program coordinators Sandra Torres and Esteban Calvo selected eleven exciting sessions for our research committee. They were also asked to put together one poster session. Thus, please consider submitting an abstract for one of these sessions:
  • A Life-Course Perspective on Work and Retirement
  • Ageing, Materiality, the Body and Everyday Life
  • Cross-National Aging Studies
  • Depictions of Aging & Old Age in the Media
  • Loneliness, Depression and Sociability in Oldest Old Persons
  • Making the World Age Friendly: Activation, Co-Production and Social Inclusion of Seniors
  • New Experiences, Inequalities and Practices at the Intersections of Ageing, Gender and Migration
  • Old Age Social Exclusion: Challenges and Solutions
  • Patients' Participation in Shared Decision-Making about Their Health Treatment: Intersections of Disability, Stigma, Inequality, and Discrimination
  • Social and Life-Course Determinants of Late Life Health
  • RC11 Open Sessions on Research on Aging, Old Age and Elderly Care
Abstract submission is open until September 30th, 2019. You can submit your abstract here:

Job Postings

Announcement of 12 PhD positions in the research training group “Doing Transitions”

Goethe University Frankfurt and Eberhard-Karls-University Tübingen are inviting applications for 12 doctoral student positions in the DFG Research Training Group “Doing Transitions“ starting on January 1st 2020 for a fixed term of 3 years, located in Frankfurt and in Tübingen respectively. The Research Training Group “Doing Transitions“ investigates how transitions are shaped and created on different individual and societal levels across the life course. It combines the disciplinary perspectives of educational science, sociology, psychology and related social sciences. For a detailed description of the research programme and guidelines for applications see

Please, send your applications by email (possibly in a single PDF file) to until September 13th 2019.

More information can be found here:

Call for Papers / Abstracts

Gendered Ageism and Dis/Abl(e)ism in the Workplace at the Gender, Work & Organization 11th Biennial International Interdisciplinary Conference

RC11 members Sarah Vickerstaff and Mariska van der Horst are organising a stream for the Gender, Work & Organization 11th Biennial International Interdisciplinary Conference on “Gendered Ageism and Dis/Abl(e)ism in the Workplace”. The conference will take place at the University of Kent, Canterbury, UK from 24th to 26th June 2020. Deadline for submitting abstract for stream is 1st of November 2019. Decisions on acceptance of abstracts will be made by us within one month and communicated to authors by Monday 2nd December 2019.

More information can be found here:

Sustainable Care International Conference

Organised by the “Sustainable Care: Connecting People and Systems” team based in the UK, this conference offers a space for critical analysis, constructive debate and forward thinking. It will provide ‘food for thought’ and a guide to action for researchers, practitioners, policy-makers and all who consider decent care a vital issue of our time. The conference will be held in Sheffield, UK in April 2020.

Submissions are invited to one of six conference themes, or ‘other’ if your paper doesn’t fit into any of the above other themes. The themes are:
  • Inequalities in care: global, local and transnational dynamics in an age of migration
  • Work, care and wellbeing: new solutions, ongoing challenges
  • Technology in care: opportunities and obstacles in place-based care contexts
  • Care markets: how and for whom do they work?
  • Sustainable care at home: understanding the ‘care mix’
  • Caring relations: toward sustainable arrangements with wellbeing outcomes
Deadline for abstract submissions is 16th September.

More information can be found here:

Save the Date: Work, Employment and Society Conference 2020

The theme is Connectedness, Activism and Dignity at Work. The actual conference will take place 2nd-4th September 2020 in Cardiff, UK, with a pre-conference Doctoral Workshop on 1st September 2010. The call for papers is not out yet but further information will be available in due course at

Special Issue in Gérontologie et société “Older people and the end-of-life”

Questions related to the end-of-life have given rise to numerous articles in scientific reviews and to extended ethical, legal and political debates. The aim of this special issue is to problematize this vast subject in the area of gerontology. We would like to consider this question from two points of view: firstly, by examining the specific issues relevant to the end-of-life of the aged; secondly, by asking how the various conceptions of the end-of-life give rise to specific images of “older people”.

The end-of-life, probably more than any other area of life, is inextricably governed by social norms, be they ethical, religious, moral, cultural, medical or scientific. These norms are subject to debate, and we may be left with the impression that the law has the monopoly in the definition of (good) practice vis-à-vis end-of-life. This assumption is brought into question by the observation of concrete situations, be they related to the way in which older people conceive of and organize the end of their lives or to medical and social procedures whose aim is to ease, accompany or “hasten” the end-of-life.

Authors should send their completed proposal (8000 words maximum), in English or French, accompanied by a title and an abstract to the review for the 9th December 2019 at the latest. Proposals must fit into one of the three sections of the review (original articles, reports from the field and perspectives, free expression); the choice of section should be mentioned on the first page along with the title and abstract. Original articles and reports from the field and perspectives will be subject to a double-blind peer review carried out by external experts, the shorter texts intended for the free expression section will be read by the editorial committee. For more information on the sections and reviewing process, please refer to our website.

The acceptance of proposals will be subject to the decision of the editorial board, which will inform authors as to the acceptance or refusal of their article.

Submission deadline is 9th of December 2019.

More information can be found here:

Special Issue in Contemporary Perspectives in Family Research: ‘Aging and the Family: Understanding Changes in Structural and Relationship Dynamics.’

Contemporary Perspectives in Family Research, an annual series which focuses upon cutting-edge topics in family research around the globe, is seeking manuscript submissions for a special volume focused on the theme of ‘Aging and the Family: Understanding Changes in Structural and Relationship Dynamics.’ Over recent decades, demographic changes in life expectancy, marriage rates, divorce rates, and fertility rates, have led to rather consequential changes in family structures and family dynamics. Increases in the elderly segments of populations have, understandably, led to a wide variety of concerns for family members, particularly as they attempt to manage often complex issues, such as health, caregiving, emotional and instrumental support, and generational relationships. In order to better comprehend how aging is affecting families, as well as how their family structures and relationships are changing, this multidisciplinary volume of CPFR will focus upon aging and the family. In doing so, a wide array of topics will be addressed, including mental health and family relationships, “grey” divorce, the nature of grandparenthood, adult child-elderly parent relationships, elderly cohabitation, childlessness, widowhood, sex and sexuality in later years, caregiving, changes in gender roles among elderly couples, fictive kin, support and reciprocity across generations, elder abuse, and marital quality among older couples, among others.

This volume of CPFR volume will be coedited by Patricia Neff Claster of Edinboro University (USA) and Sampson Lee Blair of The State University of New York (USA). Manuscripts should be submitted directly to the editors ( and The deadline for initial submissions is February 15, 2020. Any questions may be directed to the editors at and

Projects by RC11 Members

Ensuring trans people in Wales receive dignified and inclusive health and social care in later life: The Trans Ageing and Care (TrAC) project

Duration: 2016 - 2018

Stonewall estimates that around 1% of the population identify as trans, including people identifying as non-binary, though there are no accurate estimates of the number of trans people in the UK. The recent UK survey of over 108,000 LGB&T respondents commissioned by the UK Government (2018) indicates that trans respondents (13% of the sample) report lower life satisfaction scores than the general population. Very little is known about trans people’s health and social care needs in later life and not much attention has been given to issues associated with trans ageing. The objective of this two-year study was to better understand what the health and social care needs are of trans adults (50+ years of age) and to examine whether current health and social care services providers and professionals are meeting those needs in Wales.

The project aimed to…
  1. …identify the health and social care needs of trans people aged 50+ and their hopes, expectations and concerns about service provision in older age.
  2. …examine attitudes and perceptions of health and social care professionals towards older trans people.
  3. produce digital stories and guidelines for health and social care practitioners on supporting older trans people in later life.
Members of the TrAc project team
Members of the TrAc project team

Within the project duration the research team conducted interviews with 22 trans adults (50-74 years), an online survey filled out by 165 health and social care professionals across Wales, held three engagement workshops with trans individuals and health and social care professionals (45 participants in total) across Wales, and produced four digital films about older trans people’s stories in Wales.

More information about the project, its results and the produced digital stories can be found here:

The use of humanoid robots in supporting active ageing in older women and men (HUMR)

Duration: 2019 - 2021

RC11 vice president Lucie Vidovicova and Marcela Petrová Kafková just started a new project. The innovative interdisciplinary project ”The use of humanoid robots in supporting active ageing in older women and men“ aims to bridge the technological divide between different generations and to support the levels of acceptance of advanced technologies among older adults, as well as to make ICT more age-friendly.

During this three-year project, both visitors and clients of the Community Centre for Older Adults “Life 90” (Život 90) will enjoy the company of the humanoid robot Pepper. The robot will be equipped with communication software supporting natural language and will provide information and entertainment as well as support educational activities including cognitive and physical training.
A humanoid robot called Pepper with a dark-haired woman
In the first part of the project, older adults will actively participate in the design of the robot’s software, taking part in workshops on programming dialogues. We will later test the various functionalities of the robot in interactions with older adults and measure levels of the long-term acceptance and enjoyment of the robotic companion. With the planned range of activities, we aim to show how we can empower both older women and men to overcome some of the recognised difficulties in accessing technologies and re-(introduce) the power of “play” into active ageing.

More details on the project can be found here:

Internalised and gendered ageism and disableism and its consequences for labour market participation of older workers: a mixed method study

Duration: 2019 - 2020

RC11 members Sarah Vickerstaff and Mariska van der Horst just started a new project funded by the ESRC.

An important public policy goal is to extend the working lives of older workers by encouraging them to delay retirement. Research has indicated that in addition to experiencing direct age discrimination, individuals internalise stereotypes about older people and older workers. When they are themselves older, they may exclude themselves from work situations or career opportunities. Examples of stereotypes include that older workers are less productive and less motivated at work, though at the same time more experienced and wiser. Much of the interpretation of what it means to be older is related to decline and as being less 'able' than younger workers. However, the study of disableism and ageism have largely developed in separation from each other. This project aims to assess the overlap between the two to deepen our understanding and enable the effects of ageism to be tackled more successfully. Moreover, internalised ageism is hypothesized as related to self-exclusion from the labour market and development opportunities within work. Therefore, internalised ageism may severely hinder the policy goal of extended working lives. By investigating the relationship between internalised ageism and disableism and self-exclusion this project will investigate the extent to which in addition to discrimination where older workers are excluded by others, older workers may also exclude *themselves*. It is also important to take gender differences into account as men and women have different labour market histories and because research has shown that both ageism and disableism are gendered.

This project is innovative in that it will assess these relationships by analysing both quantitative and qualitative data. The qualitative dataset allows an exploration of how individuals themselves describe their future working and retirement plans based on internalised ageism and disableism. The quantitative data will help generalise the findings of the qualitative data as well as testing specific relationships between the variables of interest, such as age, health, disability and gender. The research will improve our understanding of how ageism and disableism are related to one another and how it affects self-exclusion. Therefore it will give indications for interventions to increase the labour market participation of older workers and it will suggest which stereotypes are especially detrimental for their employment. The project will involve stakeholders from business and the charitable sectors to work through the implications of this study to produce practical interventions. It is an important aim to ensure that the knowledge generated from this project will not be limited to academic audiences, but will be widely distributed through practitioner and public networks.

More information on the project can be found here:


Barbara Barbosa Neves
Congratulations to RC11 member Barbara Barbosa Neves! She was named by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) and University of Sydney among the Top Five Humanities and Social Science scholars in Australia (2019). This entails a media residency with the ABC to develop TV, radio, and digital content based on her research on ageing and technology. Also she was awarded the Monash Arts Dean's Research Award: Excellence in Research (August, 2019).

Since July 2019, Barbara has been a senior lecturer in Sociology at Monash University.

Congratulations to RC11 member Chitra S. Nair! Her research paper entitled "Age Identities and Reverse Metamorphosis - Spirituality as a Refuge and Risk for the Well Being of Aged Women in India" was selected for the Educational Grant Award given by the International Society for Quality of Life Studies (ISQOLS) for early career researchers from developing countries. The paper is going to be presented in the 17th Annual Conference of ISQOLS (September 5-7, 2019) at the University of Granada, Spain.

If you want to get in touch with Chitra and read the paper, send her an e-mail:
Chitra S Nair

Publications by RC11 Members


Neves, Barbara B., & Vetere, F. (Eds.) (2019). Ageing and digital technology: designing and evaluating emerging technologies for older adults. Springer,

Barbara is happy to send digital copies of chapters or the whole book, if any RC11 member is interested – just drop her a line!
Photo showing the cover of Ageing and Digital Technology
This book brings together Sociologists, Computer Scientists, Applied Scientists and Engineers to explore the design, implementation and evaluation of emerging technologies for/with older people. It offers an innovative and comprehensive overview, not only of the rapidly developing suite of current digital technologies and platforms, but also of perennial theoretical, methodological and ethical issues. As such, it offers support for researchers and professionals who are seeking to understand and/or promote technology use among older adults. The contributions presented here offer theoretical and methodological frameworks for understanding age-based digital inequalities, participation, digital design and socio-gerontechnology. They include ethical and practical reflections on the design and evaluation of emerging technologies for older people, as well as guidelines for ethical, participatory, professional and cross-disciplinary research and practice. In addition, they feature state-of-the-art, international empirical research on communication technologies, games, assistive technology and social media. As the first truly multidisciplinary book on technology use among ageing demographics, and intended for students, researchers, applied researchers, practitioners and professionals in a variety of fields, it will provide these readers with insights, guidelines and paradigms for practice that transcend specific technologies, and lay the groundwork for future research and new directions in innovation.

Book Chapters

Franz, R. L., Neves, B. B., Epp, C. D., Baecker, R., & Wobbrock, J. O. (2019). Why and how think-alouds with older adults fail: Recommendations from a study and expert Interviews. In Perspectives on Human-Computer Interaction Research with Older People (pp. 217-235). Springer.

We compared three common usability testing methods—Concurrent Think-Aloud, Retrospective Think-Aloud and Co-discovery—with frail older adults. We found that Co-discovery is the most effective method for this group. Additionally, we interviewed Human-Computer Interaction experts who work with older adults. These experts discussed, for instance, the importance of leveraging usability tests to enhance participant motivation to engage with technology. We consolidated our findings from the usability studies with older adults and from interviews with experts to create a set of recommendations for performing usability tests with frail older adults. One of the core recommendations is to enhance participants’ sense of autonomy and self-confidence during usability tests.

Saunders, P. and Naidoo, Y. (2019). Poverty as relative deprivation: Application, analysis and implications for social security. In P. Saunders (Ed.), Social Security Reform: Revisiting Henderson, Poverty and Basic Income. Melbourne University Press, Melbourne, Melbourne, pp. 189-213.

Reform of the system must recognise, respect and reinforce its profound impact on the lives and wellbeing of millions of Australians, not only during childhood and retirement but also when unexpected needs arise in-between. It is time for a fundamental reassessment of how the system can best promote social inclusion and encourage economic contribution in current and future circumstances. This book brings together leading social security researchers and policy analysts to reflect on past trends, the key changes that the system must adapt to and what this will involve. Its contributors share a vision inspired by the ground-breaking work of Ronald Henderson, who argued for a debate that is grounded in evidence and informed by a coherent set of principles. The book's chapters highlight the weaknesses of the current system and propose viable alternatives, showing that there is no lack of new ideas on which to draw. One of these-the introduction of a basic income as Henderson recommended in the 1970s-is used to illustrate the need for a better understanding of what such reforms can offer today and how they might work in practice.

Torres, S. (2018). Cultural values and the nature of successful aging. In Oxford Research Encyclopaedia of Psychology. Oxford University Press.

Ideas regarding what it means to age well date back centuries. Gerontological scholarship includes countless conceptual, theoretical and empirical contributions to how to make sense of these ideas. The construct of successful aging is therefore one of the most debated operationalizations of what it means to age well. Empirical research on successful aging taps into either understandings of successful aging or the strategies that people use to age well. The very essence of the construct of successful aging is, however, socio-cultural. This is why this chapter proposes that exploring the cultural values that underpin the understandings of successful aging that inform this scholarship is a theoretically profuse approach to making sense of the controversy that surrounds this construct.

Two decades ago, a culture-relevant framework for the study of understandings of successful aging was formulated in order to address the disregard for cultural values that lie at the very core of this controversy. This framework proposes that there is congruence between the value orientations that people prefer and the understandings of successful aging that they hold, and that if we are to make sense of this congruence, we need to take into account that the foundations of value orientations (i.e. political, economic and religious systems) shape what we deem to be necessary for aging well. From this it follows that there are bound to be more understandings of successful aging than what the scholarship in this area tends to acknowledge. After all, gerontological scholarship relies most heavily on contributions made on the basis of data from highly industrialized societies in the part of the world referred to as ‘the West’. In other words, gerontological scholarship on successful aging is extremely ethnocentric in its take on this construct, since only a handful of cultural understandings of what it means to age well are regarded as the norm. This is why this chapter argues that it is a failure to acknowledge this very fact that leads gerontologists to disregard and/or downplay (often inadvertently) understandings of what it means to age well that do not resonate well with their own value paradigms, and/or to impose (sometimes unintentionally) the Western template on findings about successful aging that do not rhyme well with what this scholarship assumes to be a given (i.e. a future, activity, independence and mastering of nature orientation to what aging well means).


Cabin, W. (2019). Home care nurses claim Medicare ignores social determinants of health. Home Health Care Management & Practice.

There is significant literature on the importance of addressing social determinants of health (SDOH) in order to improve health care outcomes. In response, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has expanded the ability of Medicare Advantage plans to cover SDOH-related services. Medicare home health does not cover SDOH-related services. A literature review indicates no studies on the nature, significance, or impacts of the lack of SDOH coverage in Medicare home health. The current study is an initial, exploratory study to address the literature gap, based on interviews of a convenience sample of 37 home care nurses between January 2013 and May 2014 in the New York City metropolitan area. Results indicate that nurses believe the lack of SDOH coverage in Medicare home health results in exacerbation of existing patient conditions; creation of new, additional patient conditions; increased home care readmissions and re-hospitalizations; increased caregiver burden; and exacerbation of patients’ mental health and substance abuse needs.

Coghlan, S., Waycott, J., Neves, B. B., & Vetere, F. (2018). Using robot pets instead of companion animals for older people: a case of 'reinventing the wheel'? In 30th Australian Conference on Computer-Human Interaction (pp. 172-183). Association for Computing Machinery

Robot pets are being developed and deployed to provide companionship for older adults. While robot pets offer some therapeutic benefits, their intended use for 'companionship' often provokes ethical debate, including concern that interactions with robot pets are demeaning or lack value compared to other social interactions. Another concern is that robot pets provide no real advantages over companion animals. This conceptual paper draws on philosophy, human-animal bond research, and technology development in robotics, to consider whether robot pets provide new opportunities for companionship as opposed to just 'reinventing the wheel'. We argue that robot pets may sometimes be as beneficial as companion animals or offer something different and distinctive. The paper provides a foundation for further multidisciplinary research to advance understanding of the ethical issues and the opportunities and challenges that arise in our ongoing and changing relationships with new technologies such as robot pets.

Funk, L.M., & Hounslow, W. (2019). The emotional landscape of accessing formal supports. International Journal of Care and Caring. Advance online publication

Emotions may be pivotal to understanding how fragmented care systems for older adults can generate structural carer burden. Analysing 78 interviews with 32 carers who navigated formal services in a Western Canadian city, we explore and distinguish between emotional responses to navigation challenges and the emotion work that navigation entails. Emotional responses had a temporal dimension, and, at times, both positive and negative emotions coexisted simultaneously. Symbolic and normative understandings of interactions with providers, and of ‘caring well’, shaped emotion work throughout navigation. Discussion focuses on how broader contexts, through emotional processes, indirectly contribute to carer stress and strain.

Funk, L.M., Stajduhar, K.I., Giesbrecht, M., Cloutier, D., Williams, A., & Wolse, F. (2019). Applying the concept of structural empowerment to interactions between families and home-care nurses. Nursing Inquiry. Advance online publication

Interpretations of family carer empowerment in much nursing research, and in home‐care practice and policy, rarely attend explicitly to families’ choice or control about the nature, extent or length of their involvement, or control over the impact on their own health. In this article, structural empowerment is used as an analytic lens to examine home‐care nurses’ interactions with families in one Western Canadian region. Data were collected from 75 hrs of fieldwork in 59 interactions (18 nurses visiting 16 families) and interviews with 12 nurses and 11 family carers. Generally, nurses prioritized client empowerment, and their practice with families appeared oriented to supporting their role and needs as carers (i.e. rather than as unique individuals beyond the caring role), and reinforcing the caring role through validation and recognition. Although families generally expressed appreciation for these interactions, a structural empowerment lens illustrates how the broad context of home care shapes the interpretation and practice of empowerment in ways that can, paradoxically, be disempowering for families. Opportunities to effectively support family choice and control when a client is being cared for at home are discussed.

Funk, L.M., & Outcalt, L. (2019). Maintaining the ‘caring self’ and working relationships: a critically informed analysis of meaning-construction among paid companions in long-term residential care. Ageing & Society. Advance online publication

In Canadian residential long-term care, paid companion services are increasingly viewed as helping to meet older adults’ psycho-social needs. Complementing the critique of these services from a political economy perspective, analyses of companions’ talk about their work can illuminate not only why companions stay in devalued and often invisible work, but also how social assumptions and circulating narratives about nursing homes and older adults are implicated in this process. In this article, we draw on in-depth analyses of interviews with both companions and organisational representatives. We interpret companions’ accounts in relation to their need to justify the necessity for their work to their employers (families), to nurture good relationships with the facilities in which they work, and to maintain a sense of identity as a responsible, conscientious and ‘caring self’. In this way, these precarious workers inadvertently reproduce dominant narratives, including those that stigmatise dementia and residential care, and facilitate the privatisation of person-centred, relational care. Organisational representatives generally reproduce similar assumptions about care responsibilities, in a context in which facilities are increasingly challenged to meet a range of resident needs. Discussion highlights tensions around responsibility for psycho-social care in nursing homes, highlighting organisational vested interests in avoiding risk and downloading responsibilities to families and to private, independent and temporary workers.

Funk, L.M., Herron, R., Spencer, D., Dansereau, L., & Wrathall, M. (2019). More than ‘petty squabbles’ – developing a contextual understanding of conflict and aggression among older women in low-income assisted living. Journal of Aging Studies, 48, 1-8.

Dominant approaches to relational aggression among older adults tend to conceptualize the problem as a behavioral or interpersonal issue, and can inadvertently infantilize the phenomenon as ‘bullying.’ In this article we use a narrative approach and the conceptual lens of precarity to develop an in-depth, theoretically informed analysis of relational aggression between older women in low-income assisted living. The analysis of the narratives of tenants (and a manager) indicated that past life experiences and intersecting threats to power and identity shaped and could intensify tenants' interpretations of and reactions to others' actions and comments. Conflicts over a) unequal distributions of caring labor, b) control of social activities, and c) access to appreciation are complex and rational responses to precarious contextual conditions. Findings contribute empirically to the body of research on relational aggression among older adults, expanding this field through connecting it to critical gerontological conceptualizations of precarity. Preventing relational aggression requires increased public investment in formal social supports for older adults, challenging dominant discourses that privilege independence, and recognizing how the legacies of past disadvantage and contextual precarity (as opposed to mental illness or dementia) shape social interactions with and responses to others.

Funk, L., & Hounslow, W. (2019). How formal navigators interpret their roles supporting families. Quality in Ageing and Older Adults, 20(1): 10-19

The purpose of this paper is to examine how formal navigators interpret their roles supporting families of older adults. This study was an interpretive inquiry informed by critical gerontology and discourse analytic methods. Interview data were collected and analyzed from 22 formal service providers who helped older adults and their families navigate health and social care resources in one Western Canadian city. Although acknowledging structural barriers to service access, participants emphasized individual empowerment as their dominant strategy, interpreting their roles as providing information and education about services. In part, these interpretations may reflect the limited nature of their ability to help broker access or advocate; in part, they may also reflect the broader political and economic discourses surrounding care in Canada. When providers position navigation and access to care as individual problems, this can obscure structural burden as well as potential inequities among older adults. Future research should examine whether navigational role interpretations are similar or different to those of navigators in other regions.

Funk, L.M., Dansereau, L., & Novek, S. (2019). Carers as system navigators: Exploring sources, processes and outcomes of structural burden. The Gerontologist. 59(3): 426-435

Structural features of formal care systems influence the amount, difficulty, and complexity of what carers do as they interface with those systems. In this study, we explored how carers navigate health and social care systems, and their experiences of structural burden related to features such as complexity and fragmentation. This qualitative descriptive inquiry drew on data from in-person interviews with 32 carers of older adults, which were analyzed first using inductive thematic analysis and then using structural burden as a conceptual lens. Participant accounts revealed how navigating formal systems on behalf of older adult family members can exact considerable demands on carers in terms of time investment and emotional energy. In this way, care systems exacerbate the stress and structural burden experienced by carers, even when formal services alleviate other forms of carer burden. Our findings contribute to knowledge of how the structural context of formal services shapes carer experiences and outcomes. To promote equity and prevent burden, system navigation work should be considered as a public, structural issue, rather than an individual-level problem of skills and learning.

Moulaert, T., & Wanka, A. (2019). Benches as materialisations of (active) ageing in public space: First steps towards a praxeology of space. Urban Planning, 4(2), 106-122.

In its promotion of “active ageing” through Age-Friendly Cities and Communities (AFCC) and the Global Network on Age Friendly Cities and Communities (GNAFCC), the World Health Organization has developed a vision of ageing that links socio-spatial environments to personal lifestyles and community support. Approaching age-friendly environments from a “doing” perspective shifts our focus from such ideals to social practices, materialisations, and representations produced. Regularly referred to in AFCC discourse, public benches offer a great illustration for such materialisations. This article asks: what do benches tell us about the way ageing is framed and shaped in the AFCC discourse? How do benches themselves exhibit agency in it? Theoretically based on Lefebvrian social theory and critical gerontology, our reflexive article explores promotional/policy documents supporting AFCC worldwide, “good practices” shared by GNAFCC, and a series of European field observations around AFCC and benches and, finally, personal observations of ageing in public space around benches. Drawing on the Lefebvrian differentiation between representational benches, representations of benches, and social practices of benches, we show how benches can be considered as a socio-technical “assemblage” able to: 1) forge ambivalent representations and solutions for “active ageing” in public space, 2) illustrate, beyond the symbolic of space, the symbolic difficulties of “real” participative and multi-stakeholders governance promoted through “age-friendliness”, and 3) explore everyday life practices of “spatial expulsion” of “ageing in public space” for older adults. In conclusion, we suggest a major shift for the AFCC program by finding inspiration in African practices of “ageing in public space”.

Naidoo, Y. (2019). A multi-dimensional individual well-being indicator framework - with an application to older Australians. Social Indicators Research.
DOI: 10.1007/s11205-019-02132-w.

This paper constructs a multi-dimensional individual well-being (MIW) indicator framework to explicitly recognise the inter-relationship between economic and non-economic dimensions in encapsulating the totality of an individual’s life. The MIW framework treats individual well-being as a multi-dimensional concept disaggregable into uniquely defined but latent well-being dimensions with observable indicators attached to each. A composite well-being index applicable to individual level analysis is developed through a series of intra-personal aggregative procedures. The results are based on person-level data from the household, income and labour dynamics in Australia survey and applied to an assessment of the individual well-being of older Australians, aged 65 years and over. The findings indicate that, although older Australians have slightly lower overall well-being compared to non-older adults, driven primarily by declining physical health and to a lesser extent mental health, they maintain strong personal relationships, and engage actively in their communities. More generally, the approach outlines how to quantify objective multi-dimensional assessments of individual well-being.

Naidoo, Y. (2019). Comparing the implications of expanded income based measures of living standards with an application to older Australians. Journal of Social Policy, 48(1): 83-105.

The standard of living of older people is a critical policy matter, given Australia's ageing population. Conventional living standard assessments continue to rely on disposable income as a defining indicator, despite it not encompassing the full range of potential consumption possibilities that affect an individual's economic living standard. This article proposes a series of three economic resource metrics that sequentially append the disposable income metric with the value of non-cash benefits and services arising from the receipt of public goods and/or services from home ownership in the form of a ‘full’ income metric, and then the inclusion of wealth in the form of two derived ‘potential consumption’ metrics. Using data from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia Survey, the findings demonstrate that augmenting disposable income with income streams from non-cash services and annuitised wealth substantially improves the relative economic position of older Australians. It also highlights the heterogeneity in economic living standard outcomes for different demographic sub-groups of older people that would otherwise be drawn using a disposable income analytic lens. The article argues that an expanded economic resource perspective is necessary for informing ageing and social policy.

Neves, Barbara B., Sanders, A., & Kokanović, R. (2019). “It's the worst bloody feeling in the world”: Experiences of loneliness and social isolation among older people living in care homes. Journal of Aging Studies, 49: 74-84.

Loneliness and social isolation in later life result in social exclusion, reduced well-being, and significant health problems. Yet, we have a limited understanding of the meanings that older people ascribe to loneliness and social isolation, and how they live through and cope with these issues. The scarce research on the topic largely reflects the experiences of older people living in the community. Less is known about the lived experiences of those in institutionalized settings, despite this group's vulnerability to loneliness and social isolation. To address this gap, we conducted a six-month multi-method qualitative study in two Australian care homes. The study included participant observation and interviews with twenty-two residents experiencing (or at risk) of loneliness and/or social isolation. Our findings show that participants understood loneliness and social isolation as relational and associated with oldering (age-related contexts, norms, status), personal troubles, and sickness. They therefore situated loneliness and social isolation as multidimensional phenomena: related to both structural (e.g., oldering) and agentic (e.g., personal choices) dimensions. Although participants acknowledged the structural aspects of loneliness and isolation, most felt it was their own responsibility to address it. They employed individual and social strategies to cope with and regulate disclosure of loneliness and isolation. Our study drew on interactionism and situationism (Erving Goffman) along with an emotion work approach (Arlie Hochschild) to provide a richer understanding of the lived experiences of loneliness and social isolation among frail older people living in care homes.

Neves, B. B., & Savago, S. (2019). Unintended consequences: On conducting ethical sociotechnical research with/for older people. In 2019 14th Iberian Conference on Information Systems and Technologies (CISTI) (pp. 1-6). IEEE.

Despite a growing concern with ethics in sociotechnical studies with/for older people (aged 65+), we still lack an exploration of strategies to identify and tackle potential negative effects that can emerge during and after the research. This is particularly critical when working with frail participants, vulnerable groups, or sensitive settings. How can we ensure that the technology we develop and/or evaluate does not harmfully impact our research participants, even if unintentionally? Drawing on a case study of a communication app developed to address loneliness and social isolation in later life, as well as on years of ethnographic fieldwork with older people, we argue for an ethical display approach. This approach: i) bridges procedural and situational ethics, ii) engages ethics throughout the research process, and iii) maps both positive and negative ‘unintended consequences', applying Robert K. Merton's sociological framework.

Palmberger, M. (2019). Relational ambivalence: Exploring the social and discursive dimensions of ambivalence – the case of Turkish aging labor migrants. International Journal of Comparative Sociology

Many of Vienna’s labor migrants who entered Austria as so-called “guest workers” together with their spouses long nurtured the dream of returning to their country of origin, at the latest when they retired. By then, however, returning became less than straightforward leading to ambivalence regarding questions of belonging/return and transnational mobility and late-life care. Based on rich qualitative data, in this article, I show that ambivalences are found in the complexity of migrants’ narratives, particularly in the way they (1) reassess past choices, (2) negotiate feelings of belonging, and (3) assess future options for late life and care. I argue that the social dimension of ambivalence, which I term “relational ambivalence,” is crucial to understanding the labor migrants’ experiences, reflections, and choices. The analysis shows that ambivalence must be understood as a product of relationships rather than solely an individual experience. The concept of relational ambivalence captures these social and discursive dimensions of ambivalence. The article ultimately carves out the particularity of ambivalence in the general context of migration and in the specific context of Vienna’s labor migrants, while accepting feelings of ambivalence or the simultaneity of different, opposing positions in one and the same person as a core human experience.

Saunders, P., Brown, J.E., Bedford, M. and Naidoo, Y. (2019). Child deprivation in Australia: A child-focused approach’. Australian Journal of Social Issues, vol. 54, 4 – 21

Incomebased studies of child poverty treat children and young people as effectively invisible and determine the poverty status of families or households on the basis of information that is provided by, and is primarily about, adults. In contrast, the consensual deprivation approach provides a way of developing measures that reflect the views of children about what constitutes poverty and can be applied to data that children themselves provide. This paper extends earlier Australian studies of adult deprivation by applying a similar approach to children aged 11–17 attending a NSW government high school. Focus groups were conducted with children to help identify items regarded as essential for all children, and the results informed the development of a survey that was completed by over 2,600 students. The survey asked about 24 items, 18 of which were retained after statistical testing, and these items form the basis of the deprivation analysis. The findings indicate that a substantial proportion of survey respondents experience either or both of material deprivation and social exclusion. A new Child Deprivation Index (CDI) is developed and used to compare the circumstances of different groups, highlighting some of the factors that are associated with higher levels of deprivation and providing some initial pointers to possible underlying causes.

Torres, S. & Serrat, R. (2019). Older migrants’ civic participation: a topic in need of attention. Journal of Aging Studies, 50 (September 2019)

The number of international migrants around the world has steadily increased, as has the number of people that belong to the older segments of our populations. Due to these demographic transformations, topics that have yet to receive scholarly attention have begun to receive the attention of research communities. This article aims to expand the social gerontological agenda on civic participation in old age by arguing that migratory life courses offer new angles of investigation. By bringing attention to older migrants’ civic participation, this article argues also for the expansion of the imagination of migration scholars who have yet to regard civic participation as an angle of investigation worthy of attention. Thus, by proposing some of the research questions that could be posed if older migrants’ civic participation was to be a part of the research agenda of social gerontologists and migration scholars alike, this article proposes that the ways in which these older people chose to engage civically is one of the ways through which we could bring explicit attention to the contributions that they make to their so called ‘host’ societies.

Torres, S. (2018). Social exclusion in old age: domain-specific contributions to the debate. Int’l. Journal of Aging and Later Life, 12(2): 7-24

This article is the introduction to a Special Issue dealing with a notion that is in the very midst of receiving momentum, the question arises of how one should begin, because although some potential readers may be acquainted with the topic at hand, others may have yet to understand that the topic is now in the process of conquering intellectual space. This Special Issue happens to be about such a topic. The topic of social exclusion in old age does not yet seem to be on the radar of North American scholars, for example, but has certainly become a topic to reckon with in Europe. Understanding how “the notion of social exclusion has found its way into the lexicon of all major global governance institutions and has become something of a trope around which is pegged justifications for various reforms” (O’Brien & Penna 2008: 1) is what this introduction is about. This Special Issue was, after all, first conceived as part of the series of special issues that the COST-action known as ROSENet (an acronym that stands for Reducing Old Age Social Exclusion: Collaborations in Research and Policy; would put together to raise awareness about old-age social exclusion – a phenomenon that deserves attention as populations around the world grow older and live longer. For those who are not familiar with what COST-actions are, COST stands for European Collaborations in Science and Technology and is an organization that offers, among other things, European funding to facilitate the establishment of research networks that can address an issue deemed to be of concern not only for scholars, but also for policymakers. The actual COST-funded network behind this Special Issue (i.e., ROSENet) brings together over 140 researchers (from 30+ countries) who have been working together – through an array of activities – on the dimensions of old-age social exclusion that have been identified (i.e., economic, social relations, services, community/ spatial, civic and symbolic) ever since social exclusion entered the vernacular of European politics about three decades ago. To this end, it would seem to be important to mention that – although it took time before the notion of social exclusion ‘conquered’ discourses about poverty and disadvantage, and although we have seen how the opposite term of social inclusion has slowly come to be widely used by policymakers – it has become increasingly clear that social exclusion has made its entrance into the social scientific debate on inequalities, in general, and the gerontological version of inequality, in particular. Both of these facts are addressed in this article.

Torres, S. & Glicksman, A. (2019). Introduction: Expanding the gerontological imagination through the study of migrants. Journal of Aging Studies, 50

The articles in this special issue address the societal trends that the intersection of population aging and international migration pose, while pointing out – through empirical examples drawn from different countries – the opportunities that they generate as far as how conceptualizations about aging, old age and elderly care are shaped. The different authors that contribute to this special issue argue, from different vantage points, that the intersection in question has the potential to expand the gerontological imagination but seizing these opportunities requires that we re-think the ways in which we have approached them so far. The interesting thing is not namely that new groups demand our attention, but rather that new questions are generated and that these unleash our imagination about what it means to grow old in these highly globalized times.

Wanka, A. (2019): Continuity and change in the transition to retirement: How time allocation, leisure practices and lifestyles evolve when work vanishes in later Life. European Journal of Ageing.

With increased longevity and socio-structural as well as socio-cultural changes, ageing research has shown a growing diversity of patterns in retirement lifestyles (Scherger et al. 2011). The transition from work to retirement is of particular interest to the study of the everyday lives, leisure activities and lifestyles of older adults, as questions on the meaning of work and leisure, activity and productivity are re-negotiated. This paper addresses the questions: how are the everyday lives of older adults re-organized when work vanishes? Are there lifestyles that are more easily maintained through retirement, whereas others are more prone to change? And which patterns of social inequalities underlie these processes? Drawing on data from the GTUS, this paper discusses similarities and differences in the time allocation of older working and non-working adults aged 55+ years old (matched sample). Results show that the time spent on work is primarily taken up by household chores, media use, and personal activities. Hierarchical cluster analysis identifies four activity clusters resp. lifestyles among the 55+: 1) a passive leisure lifestyle, 2) an active leisure lifestyle, 3) a paid work-centred lifestyle and 4) a housework-centred lifestyle. None of the clusters, however, comprised exclusively working or non-working older adults. The active leisure cluster comprised an equal share of working and non-working persons, suggesting that this kind of lifestyle allows for stronger continuity across work and retirement. It was more easily obtained by higher educated women who live separated from their partners.

Wanka, A. (2019): Change ahead: Emerging life-course transitions as practical accomplishments of growing old(er). Frontiers in Sociology.

With the aging of the “Baby Boomer” cohort, more and more adults are transiting from work into retirement. In public discourse, this development is framed as one of the major challenges of today's welfare societies. To develop social innovations that consider the everyday lives of older people requires a deeper theoretical understanding of the retiring process. In age studies, retiring has been approached from various theoretical perspectives, most prominently disengagement perspectives (retirement as the withdrawal from social roles and responsibilities) and rational choice perspectives (retiring as a rational decision based on incentives and penalties). Whereas, the former have been accused of promoting a deficient image of aging, the latter are criticized for concealing the socially stratified constraints older people experience. This paper proposes a practice-theoretical perspective on retiring, understanding it as a processual, practical accomplishment that involves various social practices, sites, and human, as well as non-human, actors. To exemplify this approach, I draw upon data from the project “Doing Retiring” that follows 30 older adults in Germany from 1 year before to 3 years after retirement. Results depict retiring as a complex process of change, assembled by social practices that are scattered across time, space, and carriers. Practice sequences and constellations differ significantly between older adults who retire expectedly and unexpectedly, for example through sudden job loss or illness. However, even among those who envisaged retiring “on their own terms,” the agency to retire was distributed across the network of employers, retirement schemes, colleagues, laws, families, workplaces, bodies and health, and the future retiree themselves. Results identified a distinct set of sequentially organized practices that were temporally and spatially configured. Many study participants expressed an idea about a “right time to retire” embedded in the imagination of a chrononormative life-course, and they often experienced spatio-temporal withdrawal from the workplace (e.g., reduction of working hours) which entailed affective disengagement from work as well. In conclusion, a practice-theoretical perspective supports social innovations that target more than just the retiring individual.

Wanka, A.; Moulaert, T. & Drilling, M. (2018): From environmental stress to spatial expulsion: Rethinking concepts of socio-spatial exclusion in later life. International Journal of Ageing and Later Life, 1-27.

Gerontology has a longstanding tradition of researching the relationship between older adults and their socio-spatial environments. However, environmental gerontology often shares a positivistic understanding of space as either a “prosthetic” or a stressor and consequently searches for the “best fit” between a person and their environment. In this article, we argue for a stronger theoretical corpus on social and territorial exclusion in later life by exploring concepts from urban and environmental sociology, as well as examining the usefulness of these concepts for gerontological thinking. In doing so, we discuss trans-European research traditions beyond the hegemonic body of Anglo-Saxon literature. In conclusion, we discuss how gerontology and sociology might exchange ideas in order to build a stronger theoretical background on the relations between age, space and exclusion.

Van der Horst, M. (2019). Internalised ageism and self-exclusion: Does feeling old and health pessimism make individuals want to retire early? Social Inclusion, 7(3): 27-43.

An important current policy goal in many Western countries is for individuals to extend their working lives. Ageism has been identified as a possible threat to achieving this; furthermore, the ways in which ageism may affect this policy goal may have been underestimated. It has been claimed previously that ageism can be seen as discrimination against one’s future self and that a lifetime of internalising age stereotypes makes older people themselves believe the age stereotypes. The current article uses the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing to assess the degree to which internalised ageism is related to one’s preferred retirement age. For internalised ageism, assessments are made about the degree to which individuals consider themselves to be old; they agree that their age prevents them from undertaking activities; they are pessimistic about their own future health and that being old comes with deteriorating health more generally. Results show that health pessimism especially affects one’s preferred retirement age negatively, even when controlling for current health and other factors, and mainly for middle-educated women. Implications are discussed.


Sandra Torres, Uppsala University, Sweden


Lucie Vidovićová, Masaryk University, Czech Republic
Jacob John Kattakayam, University of Kerala, India


Esteban Calvo, Universidad Mayor, Chile


Myra Hamilton, University of New South Wales, Australia


Anna Wanka, University of Frankfurt, Germany


Debora Price, University of Manchester, UK
Candace L. Kemp, Georgia State University, USA
Arvind Kumar Joshi, BHU Varanasi, India
Ilkka Pietila, University of Helsinki, Finland
Luke Gahan, La Trobe University, Australia
Ito Peng, University of Toronto, Canada
Martin Hyde, Swansea University, Wales
Francesco Barbabella, Linnaeus University, Sweden
Wendy Martin, Brunel University, UK
Ignacio Madero-Cabib, University of Chile