10th Annual Ellen M. Gee Memorial Lecture

EGML2012 - "Age, Generation and the Contested Terrain of Social Policy"
Presented 19 October 2012 by
Victor W. Marshall, Ph.D., Professor of Sociology and Senior Scientist, Institute on Aging, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill



Social policy in relation to aging was one of Ellen Gee’s strongest career interests. In this lecture I pay tribute to her contributions by addressing, with my own examples, several of the issues she herself raised and discussed in what she termed “The contested terrain of social policy.” As a demographer with a wide range of substantive interests, Ellen Gee turned increasingly in her writings to social policy issues, and her talents as demographer supported her trenchant critiques of the misuse of demography through ‘demographic determinism,’ ‘voodoo’ or ‘apocalyptic demography.’ The lecture will address both the age and generation discourses as they have been carelessly used, or perhaps carefully misused, by interest groups in the politics of aging. When it comes to population aging, to adapt a well-known turn of phrase, ‘we have little to fear but fear itself.’

About the Speaker:

Victor Marshall (B.A. University of Calgary; PhD in sociology, Princeton) is professor of sociology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and a Senior Scientist at the UNC Institute on Aging, which he directed from 1999-2009. His professorial career began in 1970 at McMaster University, with subsequent professorships at The University of Toronto (where he directed its Institute for Human Development, Life Course and Aging0, and CARNET: The Canadian Aging Research Network. He is a founding member of CAG and has served CAG as vice-president, chair of its Research Committee and Social Science Division, and Editor of Canadian Journal on Aging. He received CAG’s Distinguished Member and Evelyn Shapiro Mentoring Awards, and CAG selection for the Governor General Queen’s Jubilee Medal. He is particularly proud of the many graduate students whom he mentored who have made important contributions to gerontology in Canada. He chaired the Gerontological Advisory Council of Veterans Affairs Canada for 15 years and continues as an advisor to VAC. He has been a member of the Governor’s Advisory Council on Aging (N.C.), and served on the executive committees of the Behavioral and Social Science Section of GSA, the Section on Aging and the Life Course of the American Sociological Association, and the Southern Gerontological Society.

Victor’s research focuses on workforce aging, the transition to retirement, health, and public policy. He has also published extensively in the analysis of social theory of aging and the life course. His most recent book, edited with Julie McMullin, is Aging and Working in the New Economy (Edward Elgar, 2010). He recently co-edited a four volume collection, Researching Social Gerontology, which will be published by SAGE in November 2012.