Old age, caring policies and governmentality

Garrity, Zoe (2013) Old age, caring policies and governmentality. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

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Through the theoretical lens of Foucault’s archaeological method, this thesis undertakes a discourse analysis to examine how old age and ageing are strategically positioned as forms of governmentality in New Labour social care policy documents. It is argued that these discourses are not directed purely at the older generation, but at everyone, at all stages of life, encompassing all aspects of everyday living. Old age thus becomes a strategy of governing the population through individual everyday lives. This hints at the way ageing is prefigured, anticipated and lived in advance.

An analytical method is developed by weaving together Foucault’s notions of archaeology and governmentality; the latter is utilised both as an analytical perspective and to provide an understanding of how people primarily act and interact in contemporary Western societies.

This analytical perspective is initially applied to an exploration of how the form and function of social policy enable ordinary practices of life to become targets of political government, making both possible and desirable the government of everyday living: governing how we ought to live in every aspect of life from work and finances to health, to personal relationships and leisure activities. The thesis progresses to explore this in more detail through a practical application of governmentality and focused discourse analysis of eight New Labour social care policy texts. The aim of the analysis is to explore what subjectivities and forms of life are possible within these discourses and therefore what these policies actually do, as distinguished from what they claim to be doing.

It is argued that the discourses that emerge in these policies act to limit and subjectify, by attempting to contain and stabilise the multitude of possibilities for practices of living. By ostensibly aiming to create social inclusion the policies make possible vast areas of exclusion that become prime spaces of government. Thus many ways of living, ageing, and being old become untenable due to their inherent contradiction with the social values and rationalities upon which these discourses are based.

Whilst governmentality analyses have been brought to many other policy areas, this thesis makes an original contribution by: developing a governmental analysis of social policy as a form of biopolitics; by applying this analysis to the social care field; and by using policy discourses of old age and ageing to draw out significant aspects of a governmental society. In particular it explores the dispersion of many traditional boundaries, leading to the rearrangement of relations, responsibilities and subjectivities.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of Education and Social Work > Social Work and Social Care
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HQ The Family. Marriage. Women > HQ0503 The Family. Marriage. Home > HQ1060 Aged. Gerontology (Social aspects). Retirement
H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare. Criminology > HV0040 Social service. Social work. Charity organization and practice Including social case work, private and public relief, institutional care, rural social work, work relief
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 21 Nov 2013 07:53
Last Modified: 17 Sep 2015 12:31
URI: http://srodev.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/47054

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