CfP Social Networks and Retirement

The aging of societies across Europe is not only fundamentally changing the demographic
composition of populations as a whole, but also the structure of the workforces within. As
working populations are ageing and simultaneous shrinking, the quest of extending
working lives and – as rather new phenomena – enabling post-retirement employment has
moved into the focus of policy-makers, employers and researchers alike. Although an
increasing number of workers opt for continuing their working lives, sometimes even
beyond their statuary retirement age, little is known in regard to what is shaping their
decision to do so. Some scholars in the past provided evidence that people adjust their
retirement behaviour to policy reforms (e.g. closing of early-retirement options, increase of
statuary retirement age), whereas others argue toward work place related factors such as
the prevalence of an age-appropriate work environments or age-inclusive companycultures.
Other studies look at the individual level and show that one’s individual
qualification, health status, financial situation and motivation influence employment and
retirement behaviour in later life.
Albeit this rather broad research body, few scholars have looked at the influence social
networks may have on one’s decision to prolong working life or even work beyond
retirement. Moreover, if they done so, research in this context often focuses on family
related networks, neglecting the important social sphere of work. There is evidence on how
strong family networks might act as a “pull factor” from the labour market e.g. when
people harmonize their point of retirement with their spouses or take over care
responsibilities for a family member. Little research exist on the impact one’s relationship
with work-related networks such as co-workers, team-members and supervisors have on
shaping the decision to work longer and/or retire. Having contacts with others and
experience a sense of belonging is central to an individual’s identity and its perceived role
in society and both family and professional networks alike might fulfill this need for
reference. Rooted in Granovetter’s distinction between “strong” and “weak” ties it could be argued that if “strong ties” not only exist with members of one’s personal network
(family-members, spouse), but also with pro- 2 fessional contacts, these ties could act as
“glue” ultimately preventing older workers from leaving the labour market early.
The aim of the proposed session is to take a broader look on how social networks – both
professional and family related – shape the decision making of older workers to prolong
their working lives. In addition, as numbers of working pensioners are rising across Europe,
it is also of interest to understand how social networks influence one’s reasoning behind
work beyond retirement. The session invites both theoretical-conceptual and/or empirical
(qualitative/quantitative) contributions and aims for contributors from a broad set of

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CfP_EUSN_Social Networks and Retirement