Nurturing longevity: Sociological constructions of ageing, care and the body

Michael Fine*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


This paper examines assumptions that surround the way that aged care and assistance is conceptualised and discussed. Problems with the concept of care became apparent with the critique of care theory by the disability movement in the 1980s and continue to this day. Debates arose initially between those who sought to identify care as a gender-based duty that serves to burden those who take responsibility for it, and those who reject the concept as a form of socially constructed dependency. The paper considers the problematic sociological foundations of this critique - the failure to incorporate an understanding of the body into much sociological theory and the significance that the conceptualisation has for understanding the need for personal assistance in advanced old age. While the disability critique of care is firmly grounded in a sociological analysis, it overemphasises the social construction of social relations and ignores the visceral reality of the body. Longevity care, in contrast, needs to explicitly acknowledge that ageing is an embodied and physical process that generates a need for care. The conclusions are tested against recent Australian data and research on care needs and preferences amongst older people.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)33-42
Number of pages10
JournalHealth Sociology Review
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2014


  • Aged care
  • Ageing
  • Care
  • Disability theory
  • Gender
  • Social policy
  • Sociology of the body


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