Accepted Paper:

Strong choices/weak choices: care recipients' responses to the structural change of the local welfare system for the elderly in Finland  


Erika Takahashi (Chiba University)

Paper short abstract:

This paper analyzes the link between aging and care under the structural change of the local welfare system in Finland. By describing home care deployment in a small municipality, a series of choices by the elderly under the pressure of politics and the struggle over subjectivity are taken into account.

Paper long abstract:

Life as an aging process is a series of choices. As one gets aged, he/she needs to make choices for life more and more. How long does one can continue living at home? When does one should start seeking outside help? In social democratic welfare states, these choices are to be made within the social welfare domain. Therefore, current structural change of the local welfare system in Finland invokes new series of life choices made by care recipients. The pressure of deinstitutionalization promotes home care services, urges elderly people to stay at home longer than before, and requires more effort of those elderly to live independently. Under these circumstances, what kind of care and living arrangements do elderly people choose to have? Is this series of choices under the governmental power of biopolitics, or do the elderly care recipients exercise their subjectivity in the new welfare setup?

This paper is to describe the structural change of the local welfare system in Finland and how this change rearranges the life of elderly people in need of care. Example will be taken from a municipality in southwestern Finland, where the local welfare composition is modified by severe deinstitutionalization. For those who want to stay at home, how are their life choices and their course of aging intertwined to each other? By describing that, I would like to get some insights into the aging and subjectivity of elderly in the welfare states in transition.

Panel P126
Politics of life and death and the practice of caring