Distinguished Lecture “The Pensioner’s Dilemma: Generations, Class, and Inequality in Southern Europe”, New York, 25 February 2019
The current crisis in Europe creates new practices and understandings of inter-generational dependencies reaching beyond the intimacy of the home to the reproduction of society as a whole. This talk addresses how older and younger men and women have seen their expectations of stability and wellbeing shattered. In a social context that promotes the entrepreneurial self, autonomy is increasingly difficult to attain and inter-generational forms of care overlap with conflict and resentment.
Neoliberal policy and media discourse present the elderly as a privileged group dispossessing the younger generation from its future. In contrast, my research demonstrates that exchanges of funds, labor, resources, and knowledge between generations within and across households contribute to complex solidarities. Class rather than age is the marker of social differentiation. Important mobilizations in support of public pension systems in Europe challenge a discourse where social security rights are increasingly represented as a form of privilege rather than as a means by which a state more equitably distributes resources.