Call for chapters for a collective volume: "Shaping ageing. Social transformations and enduring meanings"

Adriana Teodorescu's picture
Call for Publications
April 15, 2019
Subject Fields: 
Anthropology, Popular Culture Studies, Social History / Studies, Social Sciences, Cultural History / Studies


This is a call for chapters for a collective volume to be submitted to Routledge, "Shaping ageing. Social transformations and enduring meanings" (working title), editors Adriana Teodorescu & Dan Chiribucă. 


Ageing is an extremely diverse, complex and multi-layered process, enveloping biological, psychological, social, cultural, economic, medical, political aspects. All over the world, the elderly experiences the benefits brought by the steep growth in life expectancy, at the same time confronting unprecedented challenges caused by ageing population, increased social and economic inequalities, such as poverty and health issues, and ageism. While societies have to deal with the impact, mostly seen in a dismal light, of what was called the ‘graying of general population’, they also strive to find effective solutions to increase the social inclusion and to dispel the negative public narratives regarding the elders. It seems that the social reality of old age is both continuously renewed and persistent, while fresh perspectives and attitudes towards ageing can easily coexist with extreme traditionalist views. Indeed, making sense of ageing seems today more difficult than ever in a climate of rapid structural changes, competing discourses and cultural inconsistencies. For example, do the advances in neurosciences and the emergence of neuroplasticity concept contribute to establishing more inclusive social policies? Would this change the negative social imagery of ageing as cognitive decline? Or would this impose, at the same time, competitive standards?What happens if, according to some specialists, ‘we are our brains’, but our brains shrink in normal ageing and fade in dementia? What threats to the identity are posed for the ageing subject in a world where engaging in social activities as much as possible become a sort ofmantraand what would be the lessons of a more de-ideologised way of socializing that the elders could teach us? How does the digitalization of society impact on the attitudes towards the elders and what chances and risks does it rise for them? How do the gains in life-expectancy along with other demographic phenomena such as the declining fertility and birth rates, or worldwide changes in family structure transform the attitudes towards the senior citizens on the background of growing anxieties related to nations’ political future? To what extent is the aesthetic medicine a form of empowerment for old women and how does it affect the social representation of ageing and the personal strategies of adapting to old age? What about the medicalization of life in general, and particularly of old age, and the rise of gerontological sciences?


There will never be only one and definite answer to this kind of questions. 


Privileging a cross-cultural perspective, the proposed volume is interested in exploring the connections between the latest social transformations and the ways, often extremely subtle and intricate, in which they contribute in shaping ageing, both at a personal and atsocio-cultural level. The volumeseeks to understand how these transformations lead to challenges and changes within the values, norms and meanings assigned to old age, as well as within the ways ageing is experienced by individuals. It also wants to examine what happens if these social transformations do not simply reverberate in a predictable manner on the practices of ageing and old age, determining rather shallow reconfigurations and resistance to change, and to investigate the gap between new/emerging paradigms in ageing policy and the enduring elements of the social and personal reality of ageing as such. 


We invite papers that reflect on the ways in which ageing and old age are socially configured, culturally unfolded, internalized, managed or challenged and reinvented by the ageing subjects and their social environments (including their families) all in the light of the newest social transformations, including but not limited to following topics:

  • population ageing: demographic drivers and divides 
  • the elders between time bombs and scape-goats
  • the impact of elders’ economic inequality on shaping a unitary theory of ageing
  • cultural configurations of old age: between active ageing and social death
  • theories and practices of successful ageing: cultural roots, social and political stakes
  • public policies of late life transitions and social inclusion
  • computer technologies, the digitalisation of society and the elders
  • social networks: redesigning attitudes towards leisure and social connectivity
  • between reinforcing and denying traditional patterns of ageing
  • the ‘positive death movement’ and the social imperative of ageing well 
  • the aging mind: the threats and promises of the neuroscientific turn
  • medicalization and de-medicalization of ageing strategies and practices
  • today’s women’s emancipation movements and the revamping of feminine ageing 
  • the rise of aesthetic industry: questioning the bodily changes as normal ageing
  • impact of postmodern spirituality and religion on living and making sense of old age
  • social roles and perceptions of ageing within today’s enduring ideology of happiness and having fun 
  • managing difficult age transitions (retirement, health decline, dementia, depression, loss) in the age of individualism
  • values, meanings and representations of ageing and old age in a child-oriented culture
  • experiencing, exhibiting and disguising ageing within the entertainment industry
  • contemporary representations of ageing in arts and literature
  • pop-theories of late life transitions
  • personal narratives of ageing: chance or fashion of authenticity?
  • going solo: challenges of ageing in times of family dissolution 
  • the culture of caring and compassion: palliative care, assisted living facilities, social and medical care, animal-assisted therapy.

Please send your abstracts of roughly 250 words until the 15thof April 2019, to Try to make clear what is the stake of your paper, the methodology you use and in what consists your original contribution in relation to the scope of this volume. Please provide also a short narrative CV of yours (no more than 200 words), in which you indicate your current academic title and affiliation, last/important publications, other elements you consider significant for your academic career.


The notification of acceptance will be sent by the 1st of May 2019. The deadline for sending the reviewed abstracts will be the 15thof May 2019. The volume will be submitted to Routledge for consideration. Authors will be invited to submit a full-length chapter after the volume and their abstracts will have been accepted. 


Contact Info: 


Adriana Teodorescu
Associate Lecturer
Sociology Department
Babeș-Bolyai University
Cluj-Napoca, Romania