Ageing and work: a time of challenge or opportunity for older executive workers?
thesisposted on 2022-03-28, 09:12 authored by Paul Kelly
Ageing is seen as one of the most important social issues facing developed countries, including Australia. Government policy increasingly encourages workforce participation beyond traditional retirement age as a way of dealing with the fiscal and societal challenges of an ageing population - longer lives mean longer working lives (OECD 2006). However, there is a dichotomy between the view that conceptualises ageing as a problem and a phase of decline in peoples' working lives and the research that frames ageing for some people as synonymous with increased financial reward and advancement. This prompts the research question of whether there are specific factors that 'insulate' executive workers from the disadvantages associated with ageing and work. This study explores how executive workers negotiate ageing in the highly competitive world of the technology industry - an industry where the work-force is widely acknowledged for its youthfulness and should logically be an exemplar of ageing being a problem. The study will draw on qualitative interviews as case studies of senior executives in large software companies to understand how they develop and mobilise their personal resources to maintain their position and employability as they age. Using a Bourdieusian analysis, the study will show how ageing intersects with different forms of capital that are valued within software companies to shape the employability of executives as they age. The study will advance current understanding of how one group of executive level workers navigate growing older at work and highlight the importance of Bourdieu's inter-related concepts of economic, social and cultural capitals in improved employability as we age. The findings will show ageing is not a problem for executive workers as it is for lower levels within the labour market due to their ability to accumulate and mobilise valued capital -- abstract.