History, Economy and Culture
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In the comparison of Greece and the UK in the previous chapter issues of industrialisation urbanisation and the associated complexities of social order and relationship were identified as important factors for understanding the background to and experience of the lives of older people. What it means to be old was seen as relative to the period and the geographical location of the older person. I want now to explore the widen implications across Europe of these factors for ageing. I will look first at sociopolitical issues, of which industrialisation (and consequent urbanisation) has been identified by many gerontologists as a crucial explanatory dimension in the history of ageing (Scott Smith, 1982; Guillemard, 1983; Fennell et al., 1988). Questions of colonialism, migration and war will also be addressed. This brings our discussion back to the debate between modernisation, demography and political economy as explanations of change (Scott Smith, 1982). Following from this I will examine more widely other aspects of social development, including religion and other cultural factors, and the family — which, although in a sense ‘cultural’, represents a distinct and important area of social structures, organisation and relationships warranting separate analysis. This discussion will form the basis for the examination of policy and professional responses in the following chapters.
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