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Past Event

What can History suggest about the ageing of contemporary society?

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This paper examines the history of ageing, mainly in Britain, to try to establish what has and has not changed over time. It challenges certain assumptions: that in ‘the past’ few people lived to old age; that older people were normally cared for by their families, in contrast to now; that they were more respected and did not suffer the negativity and discrimination they can experience now. It stresses what older people have always contributed to society, rather than ‘burdening’ it, by caring for others and with paid and voluntary work, and changing patterns of such contributions to the present. Also the persistent poverty of many older people, especially women, perpetuated by the low level of state pensions since their introduction. Despite recent change, especially in expectation of life and of healthy life, there are striking long-term continuities.

About the Speaker

Professor Patricia M. Thane, KCL

Pat Thane is Research Professor of Contemporary History, Kings College, London and Professor Emerita of the University of London. She was previously Professor of Contemporary History at the University of Sussex, 1994-2001 and Leverhulme Professor of Contemporary British History at the Institute of Historical Research, 2001-2010. She has been a Visiting Professor at Nanjing University, China, and in Australia, Japan, Taiwan, Chile, New York.

She has extensive experience in both media and policy environments. Most recently, she was appointed by the Government's Chief Scientific Adviser to review the research capability of the Department for Work and Pensions. She also managed the Equalities in Great Britain, 1946-2006 project for the Equalities Review. She regularly speaks and writes on issues relating to the history of the welfare state, gender, old age and pensions.

This event is part of a seminar series:

Hilary 2020 Seminar Series: The Construction of Ageing

The Oxford Institute of Population Ageing, Oxford’s Humanities and Healthcare programme and the McDonald Centre for Theology, Ethics, and Public Life are co-hosting a seminar series on The Construction of Ageing.  While ageing is often considered a biological process, what it means to be young or old, youthful or elderly, is inevitably socially constructed. This suggests that ther...

Event Details

25 February 2020 16:00 - 17:00


Christ Church, Oxford University

Christ Church, St. Aldates, Oxford, OX1 1DP