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Research activities

From retirement to active ageing? Images and practices of old age in the transformation of the German welfare state after reunification

Project managers: Silke van Dyk and Stephan Lessenich, Project C 8, SFB 580

Funded by: DFG

Duration: 01.07.2008-30.06.2012

Research Project C9 explores possible shifts in the meaning of "old age" in the context of the demographic and welfare state changes Germany has been itnessing after 1989. The project is based on the assumption that old age and the elderly are confronted with new institutional demands in the course of the ongoing, "activating" reform of the welfare state. In a systematic analysis of the public discourse on old age and ageing, the project will investigate to what extent and in which way there are produced age-related images and expectations of activity and productivity. In a second step, based on interviews with elderly people in East and West Germany, it will be explored if and how individuals reflect and process the new public im-agery of "active ageing". In addition, individual self-conceptions of the elderly will be con-trasted with their actual activities in everyday life. In this way, the project will be able to as-certain the social acceptance, and thus the political success, of the "activation" agenda pur-sued by German social policy in recent years.

Zones of transition. Dimensions and interpretive frameworks of aging in young, older, and elderly people.

Project managers: Silke van Dyk and Stephan Lessenich

Funded by: Volkswagen Stiftung

The prospective ageing of the advanced industrial societies and the current rearrangement of the wel-fare state in terms of "activation" both imply a social renegotiation of old age and the role of the eld-erly. In this context, the project aims at contrasting conceptions and demarcations of the "third" and "fourth" age dominating public discourse with the subjective perceptions and interpretations of ageing and "age passages". We expect to find these subjective constructions to be marked not by images of clear-cut age limits (and breaks), but by conceptions of "passage ranges" that can be identified and re-constructed in the empirical analysis. By studying not only elderly people, but including younger ("babyboomer") cohorts into the analysis, it will be possible to compare their expectations concerning ageing and the transition to old age with the corresponding experiences of the older cohorts and thus to systematically interrelate subjective perceptions of "being" and "getting" old. This will eventually allow us to discern the individual and social dynamics of reconceptualising "old age" and ageing in times of demographic change.

Construction of the productive and active age: Theoretical perspectives to new treatment of a life stage

Habilitation project of Silke van Dyk
Duration: Autumn 2007 until spring 2011

Basic income in the societal political debate

Expertise by Stephan Lessenich for the Otto-Brenner Foundation

Network for age research at the University of Jena

Coordinated by Silke van Dyk and Stephan Lessenich