Nowadays, the social participation of seniors represents a central challenge for both individuals and collectivities. The participative perspective is indeed present in most of the contemporary discourses on ageing, and is viewed both as a way to manage the current demographic juncture and as a promising direction for enhancing seniors’ wellbeing and achievements. This article examines 32 programmes aimed at fostering the social participation of seniors that were both implemented and evaluated, and whose results were published between January 1970 and August 2011. Based on each programme's approach, a typology of social programmes is proposed. The programmes are grouped in five categories, ranging from programmes offering an individualised approach to socio-political programmes. Classification is based on the various ways the concept of social participation is defined and acted upon by the reviewed programmes. Far from being neutral, each category suggests a specific representation of the social roles of seniors. In addition, the paper discusses how the proposed typology can guide both policy and practice, linking identity and agency issues to organisational and structural considerations. Three uses for the typology are suggested: as a policy-making support, as an evaluative framework, and as an experimental space for community practice.