The connection between old age and civil society raises complex debates. In most Western societies ageing has become a major social issue involving cost and care. The institutionalization of old age has led to enhance the place of demographic change in public debates, while inter-generational responsibilities are a current concern, as well as themes such as economic insecurity and old age, or the place of the elderly in the work place. These themes penetrate public debates, while ageing populations raise the issue of continued access to politics and political information. The importance of political activism of the elderly suggests however that far from being excluded from the political sphere, the older part of populations may weigh significantly in Western politics. Notions such as “gray power” or “senior power” also suggest that old age does not systematically equate with exclusion from the political sphere. Recent debates about climate change also stress the existence of inter-generational conflict in political decisions. And in the United Kingdom the place of ageing activists in the Conservative party enhances the extraordinary power of the elderly in making choices for the wider population. These contrasting views of the connection between old age and politics call for a historical approach of questions surrounding ageing and old age. Examining the discourses and realities of old age and politics over a long period, using a multi-disciplinary approach, should help producing a more nuanced and complex view of this theme.
The conference organized by the AGF welcomes contributions on the following topics, from the Middle Ages to the present, with a focus on British and European societies:
Old and young politicians
Old age and political influence
(2) The elderly as a political community
Old age and political cognition
The older citizen and politics
Age discrimination and politics
Senior power, self-empowerment
(3) The politics of old age
Social inequality: wealth accumulation, economic insecurity in old age, inheritance tax
Care of the elderly as a political concern
Old age and work requirements, economisation of old age
(4) Old age and social order
Institutionalisation of old age
Demographic change and discourses on old age
Intergenerational relations: conflicts, responsibilities, solidarity
All speakers are expected to deliver their papers in English.
The conference will be held 15-16 May 2020 at the Centre for British Studies (Großbritannienzentrum) at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. In the interest of fostering stronger links between scholars in Germany and the United Kingdom and Ireland, the German Historical Institute London will cover travel expenses for accepted speakers travelling in from the British Isles. Accepted speakers from Germany and other European countries may qualify for bursaries to cover travel expenses, depending on funding.
Proposals in English should include a brief one-page CV and a 400-word abstract of the proposed paper, and are due by 15 January 2020. Please send them to: firstname.lastname@example.org