Aging and Disability: The Paradoxical Positions of the Chronological Life Course

Amanda Grenier, Meredith Griffin, Colleen McGrath


This paper explores aging and disability, problematizing the paradoxical tendency to separate and conflate these social locations in chronological understandings of the life course. Exploring how such thinking has shaped assumptions, responses, knowledge, policy and practice, we conclude with suggestions to reconsider disability across the life course and into late life.


successful aging, structured dependency, legitimized identity



Albrecht, G. (1992). The disability business: Rehabilitation in America. London: Sage.

Asquith, N. (2009). Positive ageing, neoliberalism and Australian sociology. The Australian Sociological Association, 45(3), 255-269.

Barnes, C. (1996). Theories of disability and the origins of the oppression of disabled people in western society. Disability and society: Emerging issues and insights. London: Longman.

Boudiny, K. (2013). 'Active ageing': from empty rhetoric to effective policy tool. Ageing & Society, 33, 1077-1098.

Bricher, G. (2000). Disabled people, health professionals and the social model of disability: Can there be a research relationship? Disability & Society, 15(5), 781-793.

Burchardt, T. (2004). Capabilities and disability: the capabilities framework and the social model of disability. Disability and Society, 19(7), 735-751.

Crow, L. (1996). Including all of our lives: renewing the social model of disability. In C. Barnes & G. Mercer (Eds.), Exploring the Divide: Illness and Disability (pp. 55-73). Leeds: Disability Press.

Dannefer, D., & Settersen, RA., (2010). The study of the life course: Implications for social gerontology. In D. Dannefer & C. Phillipson (Eds.), The SAGE handbook of social gerontology (pp. 3-19). London: Sage Publications.

Featherstone, M., & Wernick, A. (1995). Images of aging: cultural representations of later life. London: Routledge.

Gilleard, C., & Higgs, P. (2000). Cultures of ageing: self, citizen and the body. New York: Prentice Hall.

Grenier, A. (2007). Constructions of frailty in the English language, care practice and the lived experience. Ageing & Society, 27(3), 425-445.

Grenier, A. (2012). Transitions and the life course: Challenging the constructions of 'growing old', Bristol: Policy Press.

Gullette, M. (2004). Aged by culture. Chicago: University of Chicago Press,

Hockey, J., & James, A. (2003). Social identities across the life course. Houndsmills: Palgrave MacMillan.

Jonson. H., & Larsson, A. (2009). The exclusion of older people in disability activism and policies--A case of inadvertent ageism? Journal of Aging Studies, 23, 69-77.

Kane, R.L., & Kane, R.A. (2005). Ageism in healthcare and long term care. Generations, 29(3), 49-54.

Katz, S. (2001/2002). Growing older without aging? Positive aging, anti-ageism,

and anti-aging. Generations, 25, 27-32.

Katz, S. (2005). Cultural aging: life course, lifestyle, and senior world. Peterborough: Broadview Press.

Kohli, M. (2007). The institutionalization of the life course: looking back to look ahead. Research in Human Development, 4(3), 253-271.

Kohli, M., & Meyer, JW. (1986). Social structure and the social construction of life stages. Human Development, 29(3), 154-159.

Laliberte Rudman, D. (2006). Shaping the active, autonomous and responsible modern retiree: An analysis of discursive technologies and their links with neo-liberal political rationality. Ageing & Society, 26(2), 181-201.

Lang, R. (2001). The development and critique of the social model of disability. Overseas Development Group: University of East Anglia.

Macnicol, J. (2006). Age discrimination: An historical and contemporary analysis. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Martinson, M., & Minkler, M. (2006). Civic engagement and older adults: A critical perspective. The Gerontologist, 46, 318-324.

Mayer, K. (2004). Whose lives? How history, societies and institutions decline and shape life courses. Research in Human Development, 1(3), 161-187.

Mendes, F. (2013). Active ageing: A right or a duty? Health Sociology Review, 22(2), 174-185.

Minkler, M., & Fadem, P. (2002). ‘Successful aging’: A disability perspective. Journal of Disability Policy Studies, 12(4), 229-235.

Morris, J. (2001). Impairment and disability: Constructing an ethics of care that promotes human rights. Hypatia, 16(4).

Oldman, C. (2002). Later life and the social model of disability: A comfortable partnership? Ageing and Society, 22, 791-806.

Oliver, M. (1989). Disability and dependency: A creation of industrial societies. In L. Barton (Eds.), Disability and dependency (pp. 7-22). Barcombe, UK: The Falmer Press.

Oliver, M. (1996). Understanding disability: From theory to practice. New York, NY: St. Martin’s Press.

Phillipson, C. (2013). Ageing. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press.

Priestley, M. (2000). Adults only: Disability, social policy and the life course. Journal of Social Policy, 29(3), 421-439.

Priestley, M. (2003). Disability: A life course approach. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press.

Raymond, E., & Grenier, A. (2013). The rhetoric of participation in policy discourse: Toward a new form of exclusion for seniors with disabilities. Canadian Journal on Aging, 32(2), 117-129.

Raymond, E., & Grenier, A. (2015). Social participation at the intersection of old age and lifelong disabilities: Illustrations from a Photo-Novel project. Journal of Aging Studies, 35, 190-200.

Rowe, J., & Kahn, R. (1997). Successful aging. The Gerontologist, 37, 433-440.

Siebers, T. (2006). Disability in theory: From social constructionism to the new realism of the body. In L.J. David (Eds.), The disability studies reader (pp 173-183). New York: Routledge Taylor & Francis Group.

Smart, J. (2006-2007). Challenges to the biomedical model of disability. Advances in Medical Psychotherapy & Psychodiagnosis, 12, 1-4.

Stone, S. (2013). The situated nature of disability. In M.P. Cutchin & V.A. Dickie (Eds.), Transactional Perspectives on Occupation (pp. 95-105). Springer.

Thomas, C. (2007). Sociologies of disability and illness: Contested ideas in disability studies and medical sociology. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan.

Tulle-Winton, E. (1999). Growing old and resistance: Towards a new cultural economy of old age? Ageing and Society, 19, 281-289.

Walker, A., & Walker, C. (1998). Normalisation and "normal" ageing: The social construction of dependency among older people with learning difficulties. Disability & Society, 13, 125-142.

Full Text:  Subscribers Only


  • There are currently no refbacks.
Managed Hosting, Support, and OJS Responsive Theme by: