Critical educational gerontology: what has it got to offer social work with older people?

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Critical educational gerontology argues for a moral goal of learning in later life to develop alternative visions for democratic social change whereby older people are empowered to resist and overcome various forms of discrimination. If the development of critical consciousness within the older people's social movement is an important precursor to critical action where the self is a key site of politicisation, different approaches will need to be developed and fostered within social work with older people. Adopting a learning and educational approach within practice could facilitate a more liberating approach to achieving sustainable support and emphasise self-directed support. Embedding older people's experiences within a critical paradigm recognises the political nature of educational interventions in later life. This paper argues that learning offers a collective and negotiated enterprise with which empowerment could be promoted and older people given more control over their lives in accordance with the core aims of social work. It examines the potential contribution of critical educational gerontology to social work with older people with reference to practice examples and aims to stimulate debate about what is needed to further embed this approach within different models of practice.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)443-446
Number of pages14
JournalEuropean Journal of Social Work
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 12 Feb 2014


  • educational gerontology
  • critical consciousness
  • older people
  • social work
  • self-directed support


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