Governing the activation of older workers in the EU

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26 Citations (SciVal)


– This paper seeks to evaluate the EU's “active ageing” agenda as a governance strategy for the activation of older workers, and its impact on the regulation both of those who make, and those who are the objects of, policy. This case study is used to reflect more broadly on the implications of governance strategies for the regulation of social subjects in the European Union (EU).

– The paper adopts a model of governance comprising two dimensions, namely formal policy (policy aims) and operational policy (policy means). This model is used to explain how and to what effect, discourses and institutions interact in EU governance to produce particular forms of social subject regulation; in this case, activation.

– For the operational dimension, the paper explores how contradictions and tensions within and between employment, pensions and social inclusion policies are reflected in, and the products of, a re‐allocation of responsibilities between the EU, member states, social partners, and individuals. For the formal dimension, it explains how employment for older workers is constructed as having a different meaning to the employment of other workers, and how EU discourse on active ageing disguises crucial inequalities between groups of older workers, both pre‐ and post‐retirement.

Research implications/limitations
– The paper concludes that active ageing policy in the EU institutes a new category of social subject, apparently eliding the former distinction between employment and retirement, namely the “activated retiree”.

– The paper demonstrates the efficacy of the two‐dimensional approach to the empirical analysis of governance strategies and identifies how key tensions in the production of EU social policies directly impact on the regulation of social subject categories in the EU.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)387 - 400
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Sociology and Social Policy
Issue number9/10
Publication statusPublished - 2007


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