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Work, Age and Retirement Research Network Business School University of Huddersfield 27 February 2013
• Successful ageing: Scope and critical analysis• Implications for older workers• Discourse of successful ageing• Research study• Successful older workers: Founders and experts• Unsuccessful older workers: Victims with special needs• Conclusions
Rowe & Kahn (1987, 1998) distinguished their concept of ‘Successful Ageing’ from ‘usual’ ageing by ◦ Low risk of disease and disability ◦ High physical and mental functioning ◦ Active engagement with life including productive activity Models of ‘successful’, ‘positive’, ‘active’ and ‘productive’ ageing feature widely ◦ in society ◦ in organizational settings The ability to do paid work has been a key feature
Individual responsibilityBehaviourally determinedSelf-efficacyProductivity through workPhysical and mental activityAvailable as a lifestyle choiceEconomic and socialindependence
Applies neo-liberal principles to managean ageing populationAttempts to ‘fix’ politically acceptableversions of older ageCommodifies later lifePrivileges individualistic values of the‘success ethic’Reinforces individual responsibility for theoutcomes of our life ‘choices’
‘New orthodoxy of Seen as the ‘older worker problem’ (Samorodov, 1999) ageing subjectivity is identified, restricting ‘Unhealthy, less mentally astute, and as resisting change or the social education’ (Buyens et al, 2009: contribution of older 104) adults to work and Positioned as marginal and work-like activities disadvantaged (Moulaert & Biggs, ◦ as likely victims of corporate 2013) downsizing (Arrowsmith & McGoldrick, 1997) ◦ as choice of last resort in BUT recruitment (Lahey, 2008; Van Dalen et al, 2009) Can older workers access a ‘successful’ self ?
Successful ageing vision ‘a series of individual or entrepreneurial choices’ (Tretheway, 2001: 187) But enterprise discourse is reproduced through constructions of older workers denying them access to the identity of ‘enterprising self’ (Ainsworth & Hardy, 2008) A key resource in asserting entrepreneurial identity is juxtaposition against ‘old farts’ with their old-fashioned work practices, values and priorities (Down & Reveley, 2004)
Data ◦ 19 job search websites predominantly targeting older workers ◦ Listed on UK Government website (Age Positive) Theoretical framework ◦ Social constructionism and discourse Methodology ◦ Discourse analysis (Wetherell & Potter, 1992) and Vaara et al (2006) Research questions ◦ How do age and success intersect to construct particular versions of older worker identity, how are these legitimated and what are their implications?
Legitimation strategies Examples ◦ Narrativization e.g. ‘[Individual name] set up [recruitment company] in 1996. She has over forty years employment history experience in the recruitment industry working for some of the top agencies in senior and event focusing positions’ [Recruitment company website] founders’ attention ‘Discussing what they were going to do in the future they jokingly referred to themselves as on older worker being a pair of Dinosaurs and considered that issues it must be difficult for older people to find work - due to the apparent ageist culture that ◦ Rationalization e.g. seemed to exist in larger companies’ [recruitment website] explanation of their ‘Seeking no government grants or subsidies and rationale towards age no special favours from employers, she challenged traditional recruitment practices and won over her and work employer customers with her unique methods’ [job search website] ◦ Authorization e.g. [individual]s achievements were recognised externally endorsed early in 2005 when she was a finalist in the Leicestershire Business Woman of the Year business success Awards. In addition [job search company] won a Government Age Positive Award in 2004 and 2006.’ [Job search website]
Legitimation strategies: Example [Individual name](OBE), ◦ Narrativization e.g. inventor. work / life history [name] was born in Kilburn, London, in 1937 and one of ◦ Authorization e.g. his main passions in life has externally recognised been inventing, especially inventing products that might success (OBE and help the physically design award) handicapped. In 1993 he famously invented the ◦ Normalization e.g. of clockwork radio and in 1996 his activities through this Freeplay radio won the BBC Design Award for Best exceptionalization Product and Best Design. [Name]continues his tireless ◦ Moralization e.g. work to promote the concept helping others of personal power, as well as his campaign to establish a Royal Academy of Inventors. New Deal 50 Plus
Strategies of positive self-presentation, and negative other-presentation Use of discourses of successful ageing and enterprise that : ◦ Positions success as an outcome determined by individual choice ◦ Promotes the notion of successful ageing as a matter of individual agency ◦ Legitimizes the authority and prerogative of these ‘successful’ older workers to dispense advice to others who are unable to access this identity
Examples Legitimation strategies ‘Due to mergers, downsizing, business ◦ Rationalization e.g. of failure or simply the ageism practiced by some large multi-national victim status as due to companies, many senior and middle managers over the age of 45 find ageism in the UK themselves out of work through no fault labour market of their own’ [recruitment company website] ◦ Narrativization e.g. story of older workers ‘We understand the frustration of not as victims being given an opportunity to utilise your skills, expertise and life experiences ◦ Moralization e.g. because too many employers and recruitment organisations adopt ageist discursive device of recruitment policies’ empathy but also [job search website] (limited) responsibility to organizations
Legitimation Strategies Examples ‘If you have been finding it difficult getting a ◦ Normalization e.g. job, or work that pays a decent wage, then this dedicated programme of help may be just what decline with age, you need. Perhaps you would just like some help and difficulty finding work advice, or perhaps you feel slightly lost or lacking in confidence. Maybe you feel like you ◦ Authorization e.g. dont have the right skills and need some help to get them. Whatever your reason, New Deal is reference to labour here to help you’ [Government website for unemployed] market ◦ Narrativization e.g. its a tough world out there, and to get that position hypothetical you will have to compete against applicants from all ages. The skills and tricks to land a position that you construction of job take for granted, are possibly not quite as potent and useful as they could be. They are skills that search scenario to once that new position is yours might not be needed again. support the There comes a time when some dynamic tools and new ideas could be a positive move forward - construction The tools we have on offer can be used as a vital part of your back to work strategy and campaign... [job search website]
Older workers as victims draws on external factor i.e. ageism in labour market discourse But older workers as having ‘special needs’ draws on the individual and the interpersonal at the expense of the institutional and structural Discursive resource that founders draw on to establish themselves as both paternalistic protectors and experts Individual and interpersonal are converted into needs that can be met Enterprise to sell services but also to manage job expectations in line with limited job opportunities