Political participation and social exclusion in later life: What politically active seniors can teach us about barriers to inclusion and retention

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Rodrigo Serrat
Jeni Warburton
Andrea Petriwskyj
Feliciano Villar

Abstract

Addressing older people’s social exclusion is a major challenge for contemporary societies. However, policies designed to address it have tended to focus on poverty and unemployment. This paper explores the relationship between social exclusion and political participation from the perspective of those already holding responsible roles within seniors’ organisations. We aim to highlight the impact of later-life social exclusion in relation to politically active older individuals from two diverse socio-political contexts, Australia and Spain. Participants perceived a range of potential barriers for the inclusion of new members and their own continued involvement. These related to practical and resource ssues, beliefs and attitudes towards participation, and organisational and contextual issues. Members’ views of retention of existing members as well as the recruitment of new members highlight the complexity associated with building the diversity and representativeness that organisations need if they are to represent seniors’ views in the policy process.

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