This chapter uses Martha Albertson Fineman’s Vulnerability Theory for a discussion of how the concept of “vulnerability” may be used by researchers as well as policy makers dealing with age-related legal issues to avoid an ageist approach to older persons. The point of departure for the discussion is the social welfare regulation in Sweden, more precisely the Disability Act, which limits disability benefits available to those over 65 years old who have disabilities that are considered to be part of “normal ageing”. The chapter provides an overview of the key elements of Vulnerability Theory and the Swedish disability regulation. It then proposes arguments for why and how this theory could provide a framework for analysis of societal arrangements concerning ageing, and applies this theoretical framework to the national example. An overall conclusion is that age-related restrictions often do not recognize the different ways in which human lives are socially and materially dynamic. Since we are universally vulnerable to changes during our lives, a central task of law and policy is to explore the strategies by which we can respond to human vulnerability. A central insight is that human beings are not more or less vulnerable because of certain characteristics or at various stages in our lives. We do, however, experience the world with differing levels of resilience. Therefore, there is a need to develop legal and policy approaches aimed at fostering individual resilience for older people as well as for people of all other ages.
Titti Mattsson and Mirjam Katzin
In this chapter, the usefulness of Martha Albertson Fineman’s vulnerability theory as a theoretical framework and analytical tool for elder law is discussed. The theory proclaims that the meaning of being a human is to be vulnerable, and not the autonomous, free and independent position which is often asserted in jurisprudence. The overall conclusion is that the theory is useful for analyses of the legal position of elderly persons as well as the structural implications for the elderly due to demographic, technical, social and economic changes in society. Vulnerability theory, ageing population, dependency, universal vulnerability, lifespan approach, theoretical framework
Titti Mattsson, Martina Axmin and Emma Holm
Europe is currently undergoing rapid demographic changes, greater mobility and economic difficulties. The chapter analyses how these societal changes challenge legal systems originally based on the principle of solidarity. In particular, the chapter discusses how the changing degree of solidarity for non-active groups affects the ageing population. The authors describe and analyse different perspectives of the solidarity principle in elder law by analysing its diverse content, function and problems in three areas – namely social security, cross-border healthcare and medical research. Solidarity, social security, demographic changes, clinical research, cross-border healthcare, older people