Achim Goerres: The Political Participation of Older People in Europe: The Greying of Our Democracies
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Profile Achim Goerres

Wednesday, 8 October 2008, 15:00
Seminar Room at the European Centre for Social Welfare Policy and Research, Berggasse 17, 1090 Vienna

Contact: Orsolya Lelkes

Speaker: Achim Goerres (Faculty of Economics, University of Cologne)

Highlights of the Seminar
Differences of political participation between younger and older citizens cannot be pinned down in a simple statement valid across European democracies or across time. Instead, the interplay of, on the one hand, generational socialisation in politics and society and, on the other, sociological changes across the life cycle and psychological experiences of ageing shape an individual's pattern of political participation at any age. Older people are not uniformly different from younger people across societies because some generational and age effects vary between countries. For one thing, countries influence the early political and social experiences of an individual in early adulthood, when he or she is impressionable. The political and social developments of a society impact most strongly on the younger cohorts. Where and when an individual grows up matter for political participation in later life. In addition, countries are also the context for the social experience of the life cycle. Societies facilitate a certain type of social construction of old age and of other stages in the life cycle. Entering "old age" in one country can be a different experience from that in another country. Since the differences between older and younger people are determined by a country's characteristics, the continuous increase of the old age group relative to other age groups has varying consequences for the political participation process. A simple message of the kind "demographic ageing will affect participatory politics in manner X" is false and untenable in light of the evidence reviewed in Goerres' book. Rather the message must be: given the societal context, we can expect the participatory process in that country to develop in a specific direction.

International seminar series:
The seminar was part of the series of International Seminars that are organised by the European Centre. More information about our other International Seminars

Achim Goerres “The Political Participation of Older People in Europe: The Greying of Our Democracies”
pdf, 69 KB, 2008-09-22