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Participation in Policy Discourse: New Form of Exclusion for Seniors with Disabilities?

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  29 May 2013

Émilie Raymond*
Affiliation:
Université Laval
Amanda Grenier
Affiliation:
Gilbrea Centre for Studies in Aging
*Corresponding
*Correspondence and requests for offprints should be sent to / La correspondance et les demandes de tirés-à-part doivent être adressées à: Émilie Raymond, PhD.c. Université Laval École de service social 1030, avenue des Sciences-Humaines, Local 5444 Québec, QC G1V 0A6 (emilie.raymond2@mail.mcgill.ca)

Abstract

Recent discourses on aging emphasize the value of older people’s social participation. How participation is defined in policy, however, may not correspond with seniors’ realities. This article reports on the results of a critical discourse analysis conducted on aging policy in Quebec between 2005 and 2011. Results indicate that participation definitions can be problematic recommendations, standards, and expectations. Over time, participation increasingly came to be defined as productivity. The participation context also changed from collective responsibility to community adjustment and personal choice. Finally, policy texts reflected a polarization between activity and a loss of autonomy that linked participation with health status. Results suggest that, although innovative in the Canadian context, articulation of participation in Quebec’s recent policies on aging lacks the politics from which to discuss difference, otherness, and access to participative opportunities. The case of older people’s aging with disabilities illustrates the challenges of the new participatory agenda.

Résumé

Les récents discours sur le vieillissement donnent beaucoup d’importance au thème de la participation sociale des aînés. Cependant, la manière dont la participation est définie dans les politiques et les pratiques sociales ne correspond pas nécessairement aux réalités de tous les aînés. Cet article présente les conclusions d’une analyse critique de discours qui a examiné des politiques sur le vieillissement développées par la province de Québec, au Canada, entre 2005 et 2011. Les résultats montrent que les interprétations émergentes de la participation peuvent être problématiques lorsqu’elles sont associées à des recommandations, des standards et des attentes. Premièrement, les documents analysés montrent que la participation est de plus en plus définie en termes de productivité et que la notion de bien-être des aînés a été remplacée par celle d’utilité. Deuxièmement, le contexte de la participation est passé d’une responsabilité collective à une question de choix personnel et d’ajustement des [aux] communautés locales. Troisièmement, les documents reflètent une polarisation de l’activité et de la perte d’autonomie qui a pour conséquence d’associer participation et bonne santé. Ces résultats suggèrent que bien qu’innovante dans le cadre canadien, l’articulation de la participation telle que proposée dans les politiques québécoises sur le vieillissement est dépourvue des éléments politiques nécessaires à l’inclusion et à la discussion de la différence, de l’altérité et de l’accès aux espaces participatifs. Le cas des personnes vieillissant avec une incapacité physique illustre les défis inhérents à ce nouvel agenda participatif.

Type
Articles
Copyright
Copyright © Canadian Association on Gerontology 2013 

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