Politicisation in later life: experience and motivations of older people participating in a protest for the first time.

J.R. Guillemot, Debora Price

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Downloads (Pure)


With the ageing of populations around the world, political activity of older people is increasingly becoming relevant to political science. However, little is known about the possibility of and rationale for politicisation in later life, especially among those who have never before been politically active. This article uses in-depth qualitative interviews with older participants in a successful protest against the closure of a charity-run day centre to investigate how and when such politicisation might occur. We find that in response to perceived extreme threat, and provided with high levels of support, frail older people with low levels of early politicisation actively participated in a protest that ultimately prevented closure of their day centre. Furthermore, older people are not a weak population, but were able to use their frailty as political tools for shaming decision-makers. The study reveals that despite low political activity throughout life, politicisation can be triggered for the first time in later life. Four key aspects are highlighted: in spite of poor health, which acts as a barrier, perceived threat seems an essential driver to politicisation. Catalysts, whether they are supporters or carers, act as an essential determinant to politicisation in this group. Finally, older people are capable of adapting their claim-making performances, including shaming strategies, to achieve the best outcomes, thus illustrating their potential power.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalContemporary Social Science
Issue number1-2
Early online date25 May 2017
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Demonstration
  • Politicisation
  • protest
  • gerontology
  • Disengagement

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Cathie Marsh Institute


Dive into the research topics of 'Politicisation in later life: experience and motivations of older people participating in a protest for the first time.'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this