The Concept of Active Aging in Europe and Russia in the Face of the COVID-19 Pandemic
Main Article Content
Active Aging, COVID-19 Pandemic, Active Longevity, Crisis of the Concept
The essay is a reaction to the crisis that is happening in the sphere of theory and policy of solving the problem of aging society in European countries and in Russia. For nearly 20 years the concept of active aging and the neoliberal policy on aging, formulated in the Madrid Plan of Action, have been considered the defining international benchmarks of coping with the process of the aging of societies. In recent years Russia has integrated the norms and principles of the Madrid Plan into its national aging policy. The coronavirus pandemic has called into question the soundness of the concept that represents the aging process from the standpoint of social constructivism and smoothens the boundaries between age groups. One of the most important foundations of the entire neoliberal aging project—the link between activity and social inclusion, which is designed to integrate the elderly into the sphere of labor and consumption and, thereby, solve the problems of social exclusion of the elderly and their negative image as a burden to society—in the current situation turns out to be unsustainable. The coronavirus pandemic has restored the salience of boundaries between age groups and the physiological distinctiveness of an aging body. The struggle for the inclusion of the elderly has been replaced— temporarily—by the struggle for their exclusion. This essay examines the theoretical approaches underlying the concept of active aging as it was formulated in the Western context and as has been adapted in Russia. The essay culminates in the question of whether the coronavirus crisis will generate a demand for a new concept of aging.
Text in Russian