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The Political Participation of Older People in Europe : The Greying of Our Democracies

Source: OAI

ABSTRACT This book is the first comparative analysis of the political behaviour of older people. European democracies are ageing, which makes older people one of the largest groups in democratic politics in the first half of the 21st century. How and why do older people differ in their political participation from younger people? This book opposes the idea that a political ‘war of the generations’ will be waged in ageing societies. Its objective is to put the debate about the political behaviour of older people on a sound empirical basis and to generate a more balanced view. Older people do not behave uniformly in a different manner from younger people across European societies. For political participation in later life, it matters where and when individuals have grown up and in which country context they become old. 1 Introduction: The Political Participation of Older People in an Era of Demographic Ageing .............................................................. 1 1.1 Exploring the political participation of older people in Europe ................... 4 1.2 The ‘state of the art’ in the literature on the political participation of older people 12 1.3 A model for studying the political participation of older people ................ 18 1.4 The country-level implications of age-related effects ................................ 23 1.5 Organisation of the book ............................................................................. 27 2 An Age-Centred Model of Political Participation .................. 33 2.1 Assumptions about human nature ............................................................... 33 2.2 A modified resource-based perspective on political participation .............. 36 2.3 Age-related effects on political behaviour and their implications for ageing societies 44 2.4 Summary of propositions ............................................................................ 55 3 Voting Participation .................................................................. 59 3.1 The cohort explanation of voting participation ........................................... 61 3.2 Methodological excursion: an international cross-sectional approach ....... 64 3.3 Independent individual-level variables ....................................................... 76 3.4 International cross-sectional regression analysis ........................................ 81 3.5 Summary and discussion ............................................................................ 96 4 Party Choice in Britain and West Germany ........................ 100 4.1 Voting for old age interests: the failure of grey parties ............................ 104 4.2 Descriptive analysis of age groups and political generations ................... 107 4.3 Combined hypothesis testing in multivariate regressions ......................... 118 4.4 Summary and discussion .......................................................................... 132 5 Membership of Political Organisations ................................ 135 5.1 The dynamics of changing membership structures ................................... 138 5.2 Analysing differences at the individual level ........................................... 145 5.3 Longitudinal analysis of age structures of membership in 25 European countries 157 3 5.4 Summary and discussion .......................................................................... 168 6 Non-institutionalised Participation outside Organisations . 172 6.1 Average levels of participation and the age ratio by country ................... 175 6.2 Longitudinal analysis of Western Europe 1981–2000 .............................. 179 6.3 Multivariate regression analysis ............................................................... 183 6.4 Summary and discussion .......................................................................... 193 7 The Experience of Older Participants in the English Council Tax Protests in 2004/2005............................................................... 195 7.1 The background of the council tax protests and protesters ....................... 196 7.2 Resources and motivation to protest in old age ........................................ 201 7.3 The experience of social images of old age and protest ........................... 211 7.4 The lack of a common senior identity ...................................................... 215 7.5 Mobilisation and opportunities for older protesters .................................. 218 7.6 A new generation of protesting older people ............................................ 220 7.7 Summary and discussion .......................................................................... 222 8 Summary and Conclusions ..................................................... 226 8.1 Older people’s political participation – a summary .................................. 227 8.2 Why the findings matter for political behaviourists and social gerontologists 239 8.3 Why the findings matter for ageing democracies ..................................... 242 Appendix .............................................................................................. 252 References ............................................................................................ 257

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    • "The fourth indicator is political participation (Campbell & Binstock, 2011; Goerres, 2009). "
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    DESCRIPTION: What major conflicts are likely to emerge in aging societies, and thus, what basic cleavages can we expect? Age groups and generations are important dimensions of social inequality. They might be assumed to become the primary lines of societal division and conflict as societies age. However, there are mediating institutions in the realm of politics and families that have so far kept these conflicts at bay. On the other hand, class conflicts may rise again as old age will be increasingly marked by the ‘vertical’ divisions of income, wealth, occupational status or education. In this chapter, I first discuss the salience of age and generational conflicts and the difference between them. I then analyze what social inequalities along the age and generation lines have developed, how these inequalities translate into political divisions, and why they usually do not manifest themselves as open conflicts. I also examine the emerging class inequalities and conflicts, and conclude by asking how the two lines of conflict, generation/age and class, are likely to shape the future of aging societies.
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    • "Scholars hold different positions regarding the effect of age on political activity [1] [2]. However, there is still a lack of research on older people's participation in social movements and the meanings of their involvement [3] [4]. "
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    ABSTRACT: In the last decade there has been a growing attention on the topic of civic engagement in the later life. Particularly, research on political participation of senior citizens is in an initial stage. Scholars hold different positions regarding the effect of age on political activity. However, there is still a lack of research on older people’s participation in social movements and the meanings of their involvement. Within the current context of protests, particularly among the 15M-Indignados movement, the Iaioflautas (“crusty grannies”) group appeared. Their main identity regards two features: they are older people and they are Indignados. To the authors’ knowledge, this is the first academic research on Iaioflautas.
    1st UOC International Research Symposium, Barcelona, Spain; 12/2013
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    • "On the other extreme (e.g. the case of West Germany), age cleavage effects could be attenuated by generous welfare state benefits, because research (Kohli, 1999; Albertini et al., 2007) has shown that these increase the amount of intergenerational transfers from old to young, mitigating potential intergenerational conflict. The extent to which age becomes a catalysing factor for political conflict could also be associated with the age orientation of the welfare state or other characteristics affecting the position of young and old in society (Lynch, 2006; see also Goerres, 2009: chap. 8). "
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    ABSTRACT: This article is about the relative impact of age and income on individual attitudes towards welfare state policies in advanced industrial democracies; that is, the extent to which the intergenerational conflict supercedes or complements intragenerational conflicts. On the basis of a multivariate statistical analysis of the 1996 ISSP Role of Government Data Set for 14 OECD countries, we find considerable age-related differences in welfare state preferences. In particular for the case of education spending, but also for other policy areas, we see that one’s position in the life cycle is a more important predictor of preferences than income. Second, some ountries, such as the United States, show a higher salience of the age cleavage across all policy fields; that is, age is a more important line of political reference formation in these countries than in others. Third, country characteristics matter. Although the relative salience of age varies across policy areas, we see – within one policy area – a large variance across countries.
    Journal of European Social Policy 07/2009; 19(3). DOI:10.2139/ssrn.1084997 · 1.36 Impact Factor
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