Europe: An Ageing Society
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Welfare responses are expressions of the social values attaching to old age as much as of the material infrastructure within which old age is experienced. Any structured social response to ageing necessarily combines images of older people with ideas about the rights, needs and contributions of older members of society. Guillemard (1983, p. 93) has called this the ‘cultural model of old age’, which brings together social structures and relationships within an ethical framework. That is to say, welfare responses act as a vehicle for value systems and at the same time serve to provide an arena in which those values are shaped, remodelled and possibly even challenged. The example which Guillemard gives of this from the French context is of the increasing proportions of older middle-class people for whom the charitable image of need in old age was increasingly inappropriate, (this was discussed in Chapter 1), leading to an ‘identity crisis’ in the prevailing cultural model of ageing (Guillemard 1983, p. 95; also see Pitaud and Vercauteren, 1991, p. 35).
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