Older people in Scotland : family, work and retirement and the Welfare State from 1845 to 1999
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The social and economic experiences of older people in Scotland over the past two centuries provides a particularised lens through which larger themes of change and adaptation may be analysed. Older age cohorts are examined as specific identity groups within the context of a society in rapid transformation. The years c. 1845-1999 represent a period of time in which almost every sector was affected by industrialisation, urbanisation, migration, economic developments, technological and medical progress, and social reform. In combination with historical interpretations, modern sociological theory concerning the aged as a distinct social grouping provides the basis for further inquiry. Concepts such as status, social capital, interdependency, paternalism and citizenship have been of major importance in structuring this research. By means of demographic analysis, readings of written biographical documentation, and the incorporation of over fifty oral histories conducted in Dundee and Edinburgh, the role of the family in older people’s lives has been explored. Nineteenth and twentieth-century population trends have been incorporated as an area for detailed investigation of long-term familial practices. An understanding of the older person’s role in the family over time suggests a formalised socio-economic stability based upon kinship ties, gender roles, and economic and social reciprocity. Stage theory allows for examination of the economics of ageing, particularly in regard to employed and retired older people. Original research covering older people’s experiences of work in Dundee and Edinburgh provides qualitative and quantitative data on paternalistic policies in the brewing and jute industries, promotion and retirement practices, and economic status among the working elderly. The experience of being retired has been evaluated in terms of economic independence, social capital, class and gender. Analyses of the experience of retirement in the post-war era are bound with the rise of the modern welfare state. Significant government commissions and acts provide scope and sequence in an analysis of the role of the state in old age. Principally, the New Poor Law of 1845 (Scotland), the Pension Acts of 1908 and 1925, the National Insurance Act of 1946, as well as the social welfare acts of 1948 have been studied. Particular focus on the influence of the Social Work Act 1968 (Scotland) complements an overarching argument concerning Scotland’s unique practices in the modern welfare state. Emphasis is on care in the community, using statutory and voluntary services provided at the local level as case studies. Interpretations of older people in terms of their various roles in the welfare state, their communities and places of work, and within their families indicate that throughout the period, older populations have distinctively adapted to the long-term effects of modernisation in Scottish society.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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