Book Chapter

Work and careers: Narratives from knowledge workers aged 48-58


A weakness of the burgeoning policy-related literature on older workers is a tendency to treat ‘older workers’ as a single, homogenous group, overlooking the influence of intersectional factors such as income, education, social background, occupation, age and the type-of-work on individual experience. Only ‘gender’ has attracted sustained research attention, yet other socio-demographic characteristics are likely to have effects which are just as important. To take one example, professionally qualified accountants have very different opportunities in later life compared with car assembly workers whose activities are tied to ‘the track’ and therefore lack portability. Age itself is a key variable in older worker research. The experiences, motivations and aspirations of a 50-year-old are likely to be barely comparable with those of an 85-year-old; the 35-year gap is almost a generational difference. This heterogeneity of older worker experiences, contexts and situations suggests that research should be more attentive to variations. This can be partly achieved by investigating sub-groups within the broader ‘older worker’ category. The potential advantage of doing so is a greater understanding of older workers, which may lead to more targeted policymaking. This study seeks to contribute to this broader agenda by focusing on one particular group of workers: those aged between 48 and 58 years employed in, or studying at, a higher education institution. People in this group are getting older, but are certainly not elderly, and they potentially have many years of work ahead of them. In the literature and the media, they are often referred to as the ‘sandwiched’ generation with caring responsibilities for their offspring as well as for longer living parents.

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Handley, Karen
den Outer, Birgit

Oxford Brookes departments

Faculty of Business\Business School
Faculty of Business\Department of Business and Management


Year of publication: 2016
Date of RADAR deposit: 2017-10-17

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License

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