Look at me now: the meaning of freedom, recognition and work for the young-old middle class
thesisposted on 2022-03-29, 03:43 authored by Peter Barrett
Increased life expectancy and improved health means many Australians in their early 60s can expect to be active for 15 to 20 years prior to the onset of old age. They are known as the young-old. This thesis critically examines the experience of freedom of the middle class members of this social group, the assumed ‘winners’ of the neo-liberal socio-economic transformation that has occurred over the last 50 years. Honneth’s elaboration of Hegelian social freedom and mutual recognition forms the theoretical framework to interpret the extent to which middle class young-old are socially free, or ‘at home’ in their society. What is the meaning of freedom for the middle class young-old? Whilst this is a philosophical question, it can only be answered properly by looking at the specific historical context in which it arises. After establishing the theoretical framework in the first two chapters, chapters three and four shift to an empirical focus and consider how the young-old middle class recognise themselves, and are recognised by others, in a stage of life that is in normative flux. I argue that the dominance of the market and prioritisation of career undermines the realisation of social freedom, despite the members of this group having been beneficiaries of the marketisation of society in other ways.