The politics of ageing: health consumers, markets and hegemonic challenge

Brian Salter, Charlotte Salter

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9 Citations (Scopus)
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In recent years ageing has travelled from the placid backwaters of politics into the mainstream of economic, social and cultural debate. What are the forces that have politicised ageing, creating a sustained opposition to the supply side hegemony of pharmaceuticals, medicine and state which has historically constructed, propagated and legitimised the understanding of ageing as decline in social worth? In addressing this question, the paper develops Gramsci's theory of hegemony to include the potentially disruptive demand side power of consumers and markets. It shows how in the case of ageing individuals acting in concert through the mechanisms of the market, and not institutionalised modes of opposition, may become the agents of hegemonic challenge through a combination of lifecourse choice and electoral leverage. In response, the hegemony is adapting through the promotion of professionally defined interpretations of ‘active ageing’ designed to retain hegemonic control. With the forces of hegemony and counter‐hegemony nicely balanced and fresh issues such as intergenerational justice constantly emerging, the political tensions of ageing are set to continue.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1069-1086
Number of pages18
JournalSociology of Health & Illness
Issue number6
Early online date8 May 2018
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2018


  • Ageing
  • Political economy
  • Politics

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