Balancing instrumental rationality with value rationality: towards avoiding the pitfalls of the productivist ageing policy in the EU and the UK

Abstract

The current dominant approach to active ageing policy in the EU and the UK is the productivist approach. Drawing on Weber’s concepts of instrumental rationality and value rationality, this article argues that this approach is principally informed by instrumental rationality and thus has the potential to instrumentalize older persons, to become an oppressive ideological narrative, and to ignore the unique developmental meanings in late life. To avoid these pitfalls, the article proposes balancing instrumental rationality with value rationality. The balancing can occur in three dimensions. First, the value of internally oriented activities for late life should be recognized. Second, the value of participatory policy development needs to be upheld. Third, the value of meaning-in-life for the well-being and growth of older adults should be validated.

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Correspondence to Longtao He.

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Xu, J., He, L. & Chen, H. Balancing instrumental rationality with value rationality: towards avoiding the pitfalls of the productivist ageing policy in the EU and the UK. Eur J Ageing 17, 251–257 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10433-019-00527-9

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Keywords

  • Ageing policy
  • Productivist ageing
  • Critical analysis
  • Instrumental rationality
  • Value rationality