Ageing and Society


Conceptual frameworks and emancipatory research in social gerontology

a1 Department of Social Policy, London School of Economics.


It is argued that conflicts arise in social gerontology because conceptual frameworks are not sufficiently developed. Taking a broad definition of conceptual frameworks that includes political awareness, I argue that the theoretical works of Anne Phillips and Nancy Fraser have much to offer when applied to social gerontology. It is, however, essential first to theorise later life in terms of difference and diversity and the potential for conflict between concepts. The main argument is that when researching a devalued group such as elders, the political aspects of research cannot be ignored even when researchers aim to be ‘apolitical’, and that research will be helped by considering the politics of equality under the headings of: universalism and particularism; convergence and recognition; cultural valorisation and redistribution; and redress and transformation. These categories are not completely separate and may overlap. Just as aspects of disadvantage are complex and interact, so are the remedies or theorisations that can be deployed.

(Accepted November 16 2001)

c1 Department of Social Policy, London School of Economics, Houghton Street, London WC2A 2AE