Older Workers’ Evaluations of the Political Goal to Extend Working Life: Discursive Approach to the “Attitude Problem”


  • Miira Niska
  • Pirjo Nikander


Population ageing presents major challenges to the welfare system across the European Union. Consequently, emphasizing delayed retirement age and extended working lives abound in political discussions. Researchers have recognized numerous problems, which make the extended working life a challenging political task. One of these problems are citizens’ negative attitudes toward delayed retirement and extended working life. In this paper, we approach this “attitude problem” from the perspective of discursive social psychology and analyze the variation in the way aspirations to extend working lives are evaluated by older workers. The data analyzed in the study consists of interviews where participants between 50 and 65 years of age comment on the political goal to extend working lives. The article sheds light on the “attitude problem” by turning the attention from underlying individual preferences to discursive resources used to undermine the political goal and the situational functions these evaluative practices have.