Older People and the Pandemic: Social Exclusion, Heterogeneity of the Groups of Seniors and Intersectionality of age Inequalities

Older People and the Pandemic:
Social Exclusion, Heterogeneity of the Groups of Seniors and Intersectionality of age Inequalities

Кienko Т.S.

Cand. Sci. (Sociol.), Assoc. Prof., Department of Social Technologies, Southern Federal University, Rostov-on-Don, Russia tskienko@sfedu.ru

ID of the Article: 9493

The research was carried out at the expense of the grant of the RSF, project No. 23-28-00134 “Social participation of older people in Russian regions in the post-pandemic period” at Southern Federal University

For citation:

Кienko Т.S. Older People and the Pandemic: Social Exclusion, Heterogeneity of the Groups of Seniors and Intersectionality of age Inequalities. Sotsiologicheskie issledovaniya [Sociological Studies]. 2023. No 2. P. 115-124


The article discusses the reactions of older Russians to the restrictions of the pandemic from the perspective of critical gerontology, sociology of space and intersectional approach based on 39 interviews collected in Russian regions in 2020–2022. In the context of the risks of coronavirus, inequalities in relation to older people and differentiation within the groups of seniors, have manifested and intensified. With considerable diversity, two typical ways in which older people respond to pandemic restrictions stand out: the first are outraged by them, the others do not notice them. The first type of reactions is demonstrated by people who maintained high physical mobility, social activity and involvement. With the advent of the pandemic, they experienced fear and indignation, they perceived the lockdown and self-isolation as a restriction of freedom. They tend to evaluate external assistance as annoying overprotectiveness, they are often ready to act as a subject, and not just an object of care. The second type of reactions is typical for people with limited mobility who are in contact with a narrow circle of people and social spaces, relying on external help from the family, helping professionals. They did not notice the limitations of the pandemic, nothing has changed in their lives. They accept selfisolation, social exclusion and external care as the norm. Active and mobile older people are “outraged” by the manifestations of objectification and exclusion (“murmuring”), those living in social isolation are ready for self-stigmatization, accepting exclusion as the norm (“resigned”). The ability to detect inequalities and resist them directly correlates with social inclusion, and exclusion reduces “sensitivity” to manifestations of structural inequalities. Self-stigmatization is indirectly supported by the normative dependence and low mobility of older people in the discourse of professional care. Age discrimination intersects with the normativity of social exclusion of immobile people, equating old age with disability, and is justified by the priority right to care. This actualizes the role of inclusive and intersectional approaches in the sociology of aging, social policy and practice.

older people; groups of seniors; restrictions; mobility, social exclusion; structural inequality; age inequality; intersectionality


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