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    Work, health and the commodification of life's time: reframing work–life balance and the promise of a long life


    Biggs, Simon and McGann, Michael and Bowman, Dina and Kimberley, Helen (2017) Work, health and the commodification of life's time: reframing work–life balance and the promise of a long life. Ageing and Society, 37 (7). pp. 1458-1483. ISSN 1469-1779

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    Abstract

    How to respond to an ageing society has become an increasingly important question, for employers, workers and policy makers. Here we critically engage with that debate, arguing that future approaches to the relationship between work and age should take into account multiple influences on older worker behaviour, including the combination of economic, lifecourse and personal priorities. We consider the international consensus that has emerged about the primacy of work as the solution to what to do with a long life. We then address the uncertain nature of work as it affects older workers, and discuss the commodification of time in relation to a productivist approach to demographic ageing and the attitudes of older workers themselves. A tension is noted between pressures for continuity and discontinuity within the adult lifecourse which is often eclipsed within a policy discourse that tends to focus on continuity as a route to social legitimacy. Thinking about life-time as a meta-narrative, a tension between existential life priorities and commodification, may help to explain the ease with which ‘live longer–work longer’ policies both dominate and obscure the potential of a long life. Finally, we examine the implications for work–life balance and suggest this needs to be radically re-thought when addressing the purpose of a longer working life and the promise of a long life in general.

    Item Type: Article
    Additional Information: Cite as: Biggs, S., McGann, M., Bowman, D., & Kimberley, H. (2017). Work, health and the commodification of life's time: Reframing work–life balance and the promise of a long life. Ageing and Society, 37(7), 1458-1483. doi:10.1017/S0144686X16000404
    Keywords: ageing population; productive ageing; work–life balance; lifecourse; older workers;
    Academic Unit: Faculty of Social Sciences > Research Institutes > Maynooth University Social Sciences Institute, MUSSI
    Faculty of Social Sciences > Sociology
    Item ID: 13005
    Identification Number: https://doi.org/10.1017/S0144686X16000404
    Depositing User: Michael McGann
    Date Deposited: 28 May 2020 15:21
    Journal or Publication Title: Ageing and Society
    Publisher: Cambridge University Press
    Refereed: Yes
    URI:

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