Virpi Timonen

Virpi Timonen

Professor Trinity College Dublin

Having left Finnish Lapland (Rovaniemi) at the age of 16, I completed my schooling at the United World College of the Atlantic (Atlantic College for short) in Wales, and went on to study at the University of Heidelberg; Durham University (BA, St. Mary's College) and Oxford University (MPhil and DPhil, Magdalen College). My doctoral thesis and early publications analysed welfare state restructuring in the Nordic context, ensuing from the 1990s recessions in Finland and Sweden. I started lecturing in social policy in Trinity in 2003 and founded the Social Policy and Ageing Research programme in 2005. My current research focuses on intergenerational solidarity, experiences of and roles in old age, and policy pertaining to older adults, but I also have an interest in the entire life course, especially in the context of intergenerational family relations. Examples of latter include my research on grandparenthood (in particular, in the context of nuclear family breakdown); on the never-married older adults; and on how parents socialise their children in matters pertaining to sexuality and relatioships. These elements of my research agenda complement each other as some are micro-, others macro-focused. This sensitivity to individual and family level experiences in the context of social policies and welfare state structures invests my work with the ability to illuminate the inter-relationship of policy structures and individual agency in ageing societies. I also have extensive experience of working in inter-disciplinary contexts, most recently with health sciences researchers in a project trained at mapping out optimal care for people with motor neurone disease. I have published 60+ peer-reviewed articles in ISI-ranked international journals and chapters in books by major academic publishers. The leading journals I have published in include Social Science & Medicine, Ageing & Society, Family Relations, Qualitative Health Research, Journal of Aging Studies, Social Politics, Research on Aging, Health and Social Care in the Community, the Journal of Family Issues, the Journal of Social Policy, Qualitative Research and the European Journal of Ageing, among other important journals; I have authored or co-authored five books including a major introductory textbook titled Ageing Societies: A Comparative Introduction (Open University Press, 2008); and co-edited (with Prof. Sara Arber) the first book on grandparenting in global contexts (Policy Press, 2012). I have collaborated in the Irish Longitudinal Study of Ageing (TILDA), with a focus on the social engagement, contributions and care of older adults. I have undertaken policy-relevant research for several government bodies, been a visiting researcher at the University of Turku, Finland and at the Australian National University, and participate actively in international scholarly organisations, in particular the International Sociological Association (ISA) Research Committee 11 (Sociology of Ageing). I was elected Fellow of Trinity College Dublin (FTCD) in May 2009 in recognition of achievements in research. In 2012, following peer-review, I was granted the title of Adjunct Professor, Social and Public Policy, at the University of Jyväskylä, Finland. In addition to supervising PhD students at Trinity (eight successful completions to date), I am a member of PhD supervision panels at the University of Jyväskylä, and the University of British Columbia (Canada).


Contributions by Virpi Timonen

Beyond successful and active ageing: A theory of model ageing

This controversial book argues that concepts such as ‘successful’ and ‘active’ ageing - ubiquitous terms in research, marketing and policy making concerned with older adults – are potentially dangerous paradigms that reflect and exacerbate inequalities in older populations.This author presents a new theory to make sense of the popularity of…


Call for abstracts – PopFest 2016: the 24th Annual Population Postgraduate Conference

opFest is an annual Population Studies conference for postgraduate students organised by fellow postgraduates. It provides an excellent opportunity to bring together researchers from various Social Science disciplines such as Demography, Human Geography, Urban and Landscape Planning, Sociology, Social Anthropology, Social Statistics, Politics and other related fields. PopFest is organised…


New article on peer support and social identity in residential care

Loneliness and depression are serious mental health concerns across the spectrum of residential care, from nursing homes to assisted and retirement living. Psychosocial care provided to residents to address these concerns is typically based on a long-standing tradition of ‘light’ social events, such as games, trips, and social gatherings, planned and implemented by…




European Society on Family Relations – Call for symposia and papers

8th Congress of the European Society on Family Relations (ESFR) Changing Family Relations – Gender and Generations August 31 - September 3, 2016, TU Dortmund University, Germany Megatrends like globalization, increasing migration, the neo-liberal transformation of labor, individualization and pluralization as well as demographic ageing profoundly influence families today. The…


XIX ISA World Congress of Sociology

DATE FOR YOUR DIARY!! ISA World Congresses of Sociology Power, Violence and Justice: Reflections, Responses and Responsibilities Toronto, Canada, July 15-21, 2018 Check the ISA website for details as they are announced!