Welcome to our website!
We are pleased to announce that the research reported on this website is part of a five year Insight grant awarded $231,520, from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC). This project, entitled “Precarity and Aging: Unequal Experiences in Contemporary Late Life” (Grenier, PI, Rudman, Kobayashi, Marier & Phillipson, 2016-2021) will draw on different methods to understand and account for precarious trajectories in relation to contemporary aging, expected life course transitions and dominant success-based models of aging in Canada.
What is precarity?
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word precarious is described as: a) a right, tenancy, held or enjoyed by the favour of and at the pleasure of another person; b) vulnerable to the will or decision of others. Including being dependent on chance or circumstance; uncertain; liable to fail; exposed to risk, hazardous; insecure or unstable. There is also a physical connotation related to precarious: a) subject to or fraught with physical danger or insecurity; b) at risk of falling, collapse, or similar accident; unsound and unsafe. We use the term precarity as a concept to describe conditions in which certain populations experience vulnerability, risk and exclusion based on their ‘race’, gender, ability, and status. Although rarely used with regards to older people, the concept of precarity draws attention to insecurities, unwanted risks, and costly hazards of contemporary life that result from globalization, neo-liberalization, and declining social protection.
What are we doing?
The aim of this research project is to consider the specific nature of precarity in relation to age; exploring the intersecting trajectories of low income, disability, and immigration as a means to understand the complexities of inequality that are carried into late life. Based in Southern Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia (CA) and England, (UK) we explore precarity and aging through the bridging of conceptual work on vulnerability, risk and exclusion, with the identification of research-based trends, in-depth qualitative interviews, and policy analysis. We ultimately want to evaluate precarity and inequality and the interplay between structures, relationships, and experiences to determine the best ways to mitigate precarity late life; identify challenges; articulate supports; and suggest changes in order to assess features of local, provincial, national, and international policies.
Where are we headed?
At present, there is little information about how precarity and precarious conditions carry out into late life. Our position is that policymakers and program managers require information that is grounded in empirical results, including feedback from practitioners/stakeholders and the narratives of older people. Data from this project will provide insight into the life trajectories of older people, outline the service barriers that exist for people ‘aging precariously’ with regards to low-income, ability and status in order to broaden existing understandings of these trajectories in scholarly research and social programming. An improved awareness of older adults’ experiences and the needs that occur at the intersections of precarious aging, can for example, help find solutions for better access to and or suggest changes with regards to institutional resources in health and social care.
The research results will inform the fields of social gerontology and social work as well as provide suggestions to better guide and influence policy makers and practitioners to address the unique needs of Canada’s older population.
Announcment of the Grant:
Grenier, A. (PI), Rudman,D., Kobayashi,K., Marier, P., Phillipson,C. (2016-2020). Precarity and aging: unequal experiences in contemporary late life. Insight Grant. SSHRC. $231,520.