Work, education and civic participation in the life course as lever for active ageing and social inclusion in Belgium

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingMeeting abstract (Book)


Research applying a life course perspective has already shown that inequalities in later life are influenced by conditions earlier in life. Theory and research demonstrate that (dis)advantages are being accumulated throughout the life course and that various disadvantages are combined. In this study we aim to explore how aspects of active ageing occur in the life course and how they protect from or enhance social exclusion. Data were collected through 44 life story interviews with older adults (60 years and over) living in Flanders or Brussels (Belgium). The semi-structured nature of the interviews was based on McAdam’s life story method (2008). Heterogeneity of respondent’s age and gender was guarded. Findings showed that older adults indicated a strong importance of education and labour market participation in their life stories. Not only did these aspects occur in different stories, they were also frequently repeated and strongly emphasized. Education, for instance, was perceived as a key point, leading to work and consequently friendship relationships, which still appeared in their present life. Furthermore, education enhanced self-esteem and belief in own abilities. Also participation in civic activities, such as being a member of a choir or volunteering, were perceived as a positive aspect linked to valuable relationships in later life. This study shows the occurrence of aspects of active ageing through the life and how these influence present active ageing and social inclusion. Furthermore, results demonstrate how work, education, participation, and social exclusion are intertwined both in the current condition and during the life course.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCommunities in Later Life: Engaging with Diversity
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2016
EventThe British Society of Gerontology 45th Annual Conference - University of Stirling, Stirling, United Kingdom
Duration: 6 Jul 20168 Jul 2016


ConferenceThe British Society of Gerontology 45th Annual Conference
CountryUnited Kingdom


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