A Foucauldian Analysis of Old Age and the Power of Social Welfare

Biggs, Simon and Powell, Jason orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-9828-0877 (2001) A Foucauldian Analysis of Old Age and the Power of Social Welfare. Journal of Aging and Social Policy, 12 (2). pp. 93-112. ISSN 0895-9420

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1300/J031v12n02_06


It is argued that the question of social welfare is a key, if often overlooked, component in the construction of power relations and identities in later life that can take its place next to debates on bioethics and consumer lifestyle. Foucault's (1977) claim, that identities are kept in place through the deployment of integrated systems of power and knowledge and a routine operation of surveillance and assessment, is critically examined in this context. Trends in social welfare in the United Kingdom are used as a case example that sheds light on wider contemporary issues associated with old age. Finally, implications for the creation of particular narratives about later life are discussed and grounded through Foucault's (1988) notion of “technologies of self.”

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