Routledge Aging and Society Book Series

Routledge Aging and Society Book Series
Edited by Carroll L. Estes and Nicholas B. DiCarlo.

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Why Place Matters: Place and Place Attachment for Older Adults 

by Joyce Weil

October 2023

Why Place Matters reassesses and challenges what is known and traditionally understood about the relationship older adults have with place over time and in later stages of life. Building from notions that affirm there is no single “right” place to age or grow older, Joyce Weil underscores older persons’ agency in thinking about place and uncovers the ways in which feelings about place may be paradoxical, may change and evolve over time, and will always be subject to other variables – large and small – that add complexity and nuance to how older adults derive and also attach meaning to their surroundings. Even in the presence of a rich literature and ongoing body of research on older adults and their relationships to place, this book critically defines, reframes, and measures this relationship in an effort to represent the relationship more fully and authentically. Voices and the experiences of older adults are shared throughout, enlivening the book’s analysis and expressing in real ways how the interaction of person and place is fluid and just as dependent on personal and individual circumstances as it is on societal and structural ones.  

Combining first-hand accounts and innovative analysis, this book unpacks and expands the meanings ascribed to place in later life and ponders why, and to whom, place matters. Readers across the fields of gerontology, sociology, geography, planning, and health and social care will all find a fresh and invaluable perspective through which to think about place and aging. 

Long Lives are for the Rich: Aging, the Life Course, and Social Justice  

by Jan Baars

July 2023

Long Lives are for the Rich is the title of a silent ominous program that affects the lives of millions of people. In all developed countries disadvantaged and, especially, poor people die much earlier than the most advantaged. During these shorter lives they suffer ten to twenty years longer from disabilities or chronic disease. This does not happen accidentally: health inequalities are mainly caused by social inequalities that are reproduced over the life course. This crucial function of the life course has become painfully visible during its neoliberal reorganization since the early 1980s. Studies about aging over the life course, from birth to death, show the inhumane consequences as people get older. In spite of the enormous wealth that has been piled up in the US for a dwindling percentage of the population, there has been growing public indifference about the needs of those in jobs with low pay and high stress, but also about citizens from a broad middle class who can hardly afford high quality education or healthcare. However, this ominous program affects all: recent mortality rates show that all Americans, including the rich, are unhealthier and dying earlier than citizens of other developed countries. Moreover, the underlying social inequalities are tearing the population apart with nasty consequences for all citizens, including the rich. Although the public awareness of the consequences has been growing, neoliberal policies remain tempting for the economic and political elites of the developed world because of the enormous wealth that is flowing to the top. All this poses urgent question of social justice. Unfortunately, the predominant studies of social justice along the life course help to reproduce these inequalities by neglecting them. This book analyzes the main dynamics of social inequality over the life course and proposes a theory of social justice that sketches a way forward for a country that is willing to invest in its greatest resource: the creative potential of its population.

Ageing in Place in Urban Environments: Critical Perspectives 

by Tine Buffel, Chris Phillipson

July 2023

Ageing in Place in Urban Environments considers together two major trends influencing economic and social life: population ageing on the one side and urbanisation on the other.

Both have been identified as dominant demographic trends of the 21st century. Cities are where the majority of people of all ages now live and where they will spend their old age. Nevertheless, cities are typically imagined and structured with a younger, working age population in mind whilst older people are rarely incorporated into the mainstream of thinking and planning around urban environments. Cities can contribute to vulnerability arising from high levels of population turnover, environmental problems, gentrification, and reduced availability of affordable housing. However, they can also provide innovative forms of support and services essential to promoting the quality of life of older people. Policies in Europe have emphasized the role of the local environment in promoting ‘ageing in place’, a term used to describe the goal of helping people to remain in their own homes and communities for as long as they wish. However, whilst this has been the dominant approach, the places in which older people are ageing have often proved to be challenging environments. The book explores the forces behind these developments and how older people have responded.

Drawing upon approaches from social gerontology, urban studies, geography, and sociology, this book will be essential reading for researchers, policy-makers and practitioners searching for innovative ways to improve the lives of older people living in urban environments.

Safeguarding Social Security for Future Generations: Leaving a Legacy in an Aging Society 

by W. Andrew Achenbaum

February 2023

This book offers a unique multi-generational approach to saving Social Security. Public programs have adapted to societal aging, but fears overwhelm hopes for Social Security’s future prospects. Conservatives want to privatize operations that liberals seek to expand. Younger workers are happy that Social Security protects their elders, but most do not expect benefits when needed. Achenbaum reframes conflicting perspectives and offers new models of respectful transgenerational dialogue that can mobilize pragmatic reforms.

Designed for use in gerontology, social work, and public-policy courses, Safeguarding Social Security for Future Generations offers measured hope for leaving a legacy that safeguards the common good.

When Strangers Become Family: The Role of Civil Society in Addressing the Needs of Aging Populations  

by Ronald Angel and Verónica Montes-de-Oca Zavala

September 2021

As the 21st Century unfolds, the traditional welfare state that evolved during the 20th Century faces serious threats to the solidarity that social programs were meant to strengthen. The rise of populist and nationalist parties reflects the decline of a sense of belonging and inclusiveness that mass education and economic progress were meant to foster, as traditional politics and parties are rejected by working- and middle-class individuals who were previously their staunchest supporters. Increasingly, these groups reject the growing gaps in income, power, and privilege that they perceive between themselves and highly educated and cosmopolitan business, academic, and political elites.

When Strangers Become Family examines the potential role of civil society organizations in guaranteeing the rights and addressing the needs of vulnerable groups, paying particular attention to their role in advocacy for and service delivery to older people. The book includes a discussion of the origins and functions of this sector that focuses on the relationship between the state and non-governmental organizations, as well as a close examination of Mexico – a middle-income nation with a rapidly aging population and limited state welfare for older people. The data reveals important aspects of the relationship among government actors, civil society organizations, and political parties. Ronald Angel and Verónica Montes-de-Oca Zavala ask the fundamental question about the extent to which civil society organizations represent a potential mechanism whereby vulnerable individuals can join together to further their own interests and exercise their individual and group autonomy.

Age and the Reach of Sociological Imagination: Power, Ideology and the Life Course 

by Dale Dannefer

August 2022

The dominant narratives of both science and popular culture typically define aging and human development as self-contained individual matters, failing to recognize the degree to which they are shaped by experiential and contextual contingencies. Our understandings of age are thereby "boxed in" and constricted by assumptions of "normality" and naturalness that limit our capacities to explore possible alternative experiences of development and aging, and the conditions – both individual and social – that might foster such experiences.

Combining foundational principles of critical social science with recent breakthroughs in research across disciplines ranging from biology to economics, this book offers a scientifically and humanly expanded landscape for apprehending the life course. Rejecting familiar but false dichotomies such as "nature vs. nurture" and "structure vs. agency", it clarifies the organismic fundamentals that make the actual content of experience so centrally important in age and development, and it also explores why attention to these fundamentals has been so resisted in studies of individuals and individual change, and in policy and practice as well.

In presenting the basic principles and reviewing the current state of knowledge, Dale Dannefer introduces multi-levelled social processes that shape human development and aging over the life course and age as a cultural phenomenon – organizing his approach around three key frontiers of inquiry that each invite a vigorous exercise of sociological imagination: the Social-Structural Frontier, the Biosocial Frontier and the Critical-Reflexive Frontier.

The Privatization of Care: The Case of Nursing Homes 

edited by Pat Armstrong and Hugh Armstrong

September 2019

Nursing homes are where some of the most vulnerable live and work. In too many homes, the conditions of work make it difficult to make care as good as it can be. For the last eight years an international team from Germany, Sweden, Norway, the UK, the US and Canada have been searching for promising practices that treat residents, families and staff with dignity and respect in ways that can also bring joy. While we did find ideas worth sharing, we also saw a disturbing trend toward privatization.

Privatization is the process of moving away not only from public delivery and public payment for health services but also from a commitment to shared responsibility, democratic decision-making, and the idea that the public sector operates according to a logic of service to all.

This book documents moves toward privatization in the six countries and their consequences for families, staff, residents, and, eventually, us all. None of the countries has escaped pressure from powerful forces in and outside government pushing for privatization in all its forms. However, the wide variations in the extent and nature of privatization indicate privatization is not inevitable and our research shows there are alternatives.


Aging A-Z: Concepts Toward Emancipatory Gerontology 

by Carroll L. Estes with Nicholas B. DiCarlo

April 2019

This provocative, intellectually charged treatise serves as a concise introduction to emancipatory gerontology, examining multiple dimensions of persistent and hotly debated topics around aging, the life course, the roles of power, politics and partisanship, culture, economics, and communications. Critical perspectives are presented as definitions for reader understanding, with links to concepts of identity, knowledge construction, social networks, social movements, and inequalities. With today’s intensifying concentration of wealth and corporatization, precarity is the fate for growing numbers of the world’s population. Intersectionality as an analytic concept offers a new appreciation of how social advantage and disadvantage accumulate, and how constructions of race, ethnicity, class, ability, and gender influence aging.

The book’s entries offer a bibliographic compendium, crediting the salience of early pioneering theorists and locating these within the cutting-edge of research (social, behavioral, policy, and gene–environment sciences) that currently advances our understandings of human development, trauma, and resilience. Accompanying these foundations are theories of resistance for advancing human rights and the dignity of marginalized populations.

Read reviews of the book in The Gerontologist and Teaching Sociology