Successful aging, Gerontological theory, and neoliberalism: A qualitative critique

August 26, 2014


  • Kate de Medeiros

This article is a critique of the successful aging (SA) paradigm as described in the Rowe and Kahn book, Successful Aging (1998). The article shows how the implicit social theory developed in the book, in a manner similar to neoliberalism, elevates the individual as the main source of any changes that must accompany the SA paradigm and the focus on SA as individual action does not provide for those older adults who do not or will not age “successfully.” This, we conclude, implicitly sets up a two-class system of older adults, which may not be an optimal means of addressing the needs of all older adults. The article also reviews a number of studies about SA and shows how these, too, may emphasize its similarities to neoliberalism and other issues that the SA paradigm does not adequately address.

The Gerontologist, 55 (1), 34-42. doi: 10.1093/geront/gnu080

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  • Case Studies/ Qualitative Research
  • Research Methods