Constructing the ethical active older subject: a Foucauldian discourse analysis of active ageing policies in Copenhagen, Denmark

Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskriftTidsskriftartikelForskningfagfællebedømt

‘Active Ageing’ is a dominant discourse in the promotion of active lifestyles for older adults. Its emphasis upon adoption of a positive mind-set and ‘good’ lifestyle choices has resulted in active ageing policies becoming associated with ‘neoliberal’ tendencies. Conversely, we suggest the tendency to equate active ageing policy with a totalising concept of ‘neoliberalism’ can obscure interpretational nuance. We conducted Foucauldian Discourse Analysis upon 31 policy documents outlining provision of active ageing services in Copenhagen Municipality, Denmark, traditionally a communitarian policy environment. Both textual and visual data were analysed. Focus was made upon the construction of active ageing as an object of policy, and subsequent discursive constructions of the active ageing subject. The application of ‘active ageing’ created several contradictions in this policy environment. Services were promoted as ‘open to all,’ yet Municipal support was discursively constructed as an imperative of care for the most needful. Personal choice was promoted, yet meaningfulness and freedom was situated in the community, and shared-ownership, active citizenship and voluntarism were emphasised. The older subject was discursively constructed as an ethical, responsible, self-sufficient and active citizen who was both a producer and consumer of active ageing programmes. Such subjects were imagined to inhabit localised communities of primarily white, slim, non-disabled, visibly happy and healthy over-65 year olds. Hence, whilst empowerment and programme flexibility were promoted, the conceptualisation of a homogenous ‘elderly’ community appeared less conducive to respect for diversity, promoting cross-generational cooperation and maximising the ‘preventative’ potential of active ageing programmes.
TidsskriftInternational Journal of Sport Policy and Politics
Udgave nummer4
Sider (fra-til)617-635
Antal sider19
StatusUdgivet - 2020

Bibliografisk note

CURIS 2020 NEXS 335

ID: 250319161