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Durham University

Department of Sociology

Research Projects

Publication details

Moreira, T. (2016). De-standardising ageing? Shifting regimes of age measurement. Ageing &Society 36(07): 1407-1433.

Author(s) from Durham


Departing from the proposition that, in the sociological debate about whether there has been a shift towards a de-standardised lifecourse in advanced economies, little attention has been devoted to the infrastructural arrangements that would support such a transition, this paper explores the changing role of standards in the governance of ageing societies. In it, I outline a sociological theory of age standard substitution which suggests that contradictory rationalities used in the implementation of chronological age fuelled the emergence of a critique of chronological age within the diverse strands of gerontological knowledge during the 20th century. The paper analyses how these critiques were linked to a proliferation of substitute, ‘personalised’ age standards that aimed to conjoin individuals’ unique capacities or needs to roles or services. The paper suggests that this configuration of age standards’ production, characterised by uncertainty and an opening of moral and epistemic possibilities, has been shrouded by another, more recent formation where institutional responses to decentred processes of standardisation moved research and political investment towards an emphasis on biological age measurement.

Department of Sociology