On Monday 28th April, the British Library together with the Centre for Policy on Ageing; School of Languages, Linguistics and Film, Queen Mary University of London held a one-day public conference: “Portraying Ageing: Cultural Assumptions and Practical Implications”. The idea behind the conference was that age and ageing are not only biological events but also cultural and social constructions.
The ways in which individuals and the societies they live in construe and portray age and ageing are interesting, not only from a theoretical point of view but also, crucially, for how we understand and respond to an ageing population. The conference brought together experts from different backgrounds to share and discuss, from a variety of theoretical and practical viewpoints, the many ways in which age and ageing are portrayed and understood. It explores how insights from research can be translated into policy and practice and how interdisciplinary thinking is both theoretically interesting and practically relevant.
Videos of each of the speakers are now available and can be accessed from the Social Welfare Portal. Dr. Debora Price, of the Institute of Gerontology in the Department of Social Science, Health and Medicine at King’s College London, spoke about “Financing later life: financial capabilities and the governing of ageing societies” presenting the core idea that in the realm of financing later life, it is not only what governments say, but also how they say it that is important. The discourse determines what gets done, and how we respond, by opening up some ‘allowable’ conversations, and closing down others. She argues that in the realm of financing later life, by making the conversation about the education and skill of the public, market based solutions to money in later life are the only solutions that we are discussing. This means that not only are collective solutions sidelined, but it also means that when things go wrong, it is conceived of as the fault of ordinary citizens, rather than the fault of government. To see the video, click here.
Other available videos from the day include Professor Lynne Segal talking about “The pleasures & perils of ageing”, David Cutler, Baring Foundation, London talking about “Creative ageing and its enemies”, Professor Julia Twigg talking about “Addressing the ageing demographic: older people, dress and consumption”, Dr Hanna Zeilig, asking “What do we mean when we talk about dementia: perspective from the arts”, Dr. Jackie Reynolds talking about “Stories of creative ageing”, James Lloyd, speaking about “Portraying ageing in public policy: assumptions and evidence”, Dr Wendy Martin talking about “Photographing everyday life: Ageing, bodies, time and space”, and Angus Hanton asking “Have older generations overplayed their hand?”. You can also listen to the closing panel discussion with Gilly Crosby from the Centre for Policy on Ageing, Dr Jo Angoury of the University of Warwick, and Dr Simone Bacchini from the British Library.