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Aging in Twentieth-Century Britain$
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Charlotte Greenhalgh

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780520298781

Published to California Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520298781.001.0001

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Experts and the Elderly

Experts and the Elderly

Social Research on Old Age

(p.18) Chapter One Experts and the Elderly
Aging in Twentieth-Century Britain

Charlotte Greenhalgh

University of California Press

Researchers and policymakers became increasingly interested in improving the lives of older Britons over the course of the twentieth century. Expert attention was first drawn to the particular poverty of the elderly during the late nineteenth century. Charles Booth both surveyed elderly paupers and argued for state pensions (introduced in Britain in 1908) in order to alleviate their poverty. Subsequently, the growing popularity of psychology encouraged greater attention to the private lives of the aged. Postwar reformers contributed to the expansion of welfare services for older Britons after 1945 and aimed to improve their inner lives. Yet many researchers still omitted the testimony of the old from their studies. Postwar research became skewed towards problems that the state welfare system could solve.

Keywords:   Old age, poverty research, social surveys, pensions, expertise, Charles Booth, welfare services, affective life, Peter Townsend, interviews

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