Social theory, aging, and health and welfare professionals: A Foucauldian "toolkit"

Jason L. Powell

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debatepeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


Health and welfare have emerged as pivotal drivers used to position the identities that older people adopt in contemporary Western societies. Both contain continually changing technologies that function to mediate relations between older people and care professionals. However, they also represent an increase in professional control that can be exerted on lifestyles in old age, and thus, the wider social meanings associated with that part of the life course. The article presents a theoretical analysis of gerontology based on a critical reading of the work of Michel Foucault. It identifies the interrelationship between managerialism and older people in terms of a conceptual toolkit of (a) "medical power," and (b) "assessment," "surveillance," and "resistance"; the key point is that they are relevant in theorizing power relations between health and welfare professionals and user groups such as older people.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)669-682
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Applied Gerontology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Aging
  • Assessment
  • Medical power
  • Surveillance and welfare

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gerontology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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