Retirement : what identity is there for the individual after leading a professional life ?

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Dominique THIERRY

Vice president, France Bénévolat and Développement et Emploi

Seminar Social life | Thursday February 17, 2005

Retirement heralds a well-earned rest after a life-time of work. This was the case in the 1950s, when work was hard and retirement came at sixty-five, the same age as life expectancy at that time. But what about today ? Dominique Thierry realised that there was virtually no research into the transition from work to retirement. Under the aegis of Développement et Emploi, he carried out group research, based on in-depth interviews, into the characteristics which define one’s identity. My identity is determined partly by my body and partly by other people’s opinion of me ; it is defined by the ties that I have ; I am defined by how I live or have lived ; I am what I do or have done ; I am what I possess, and so on. This process highlights transitions which vary in their degree of difficulty and which are, to a large extent, conditioned by the way in which employees are treated at the end of their careers. What place do our modern societies want to give to old people : should they retire gracefully or remain a useful member of society?

The entire article was written by:

Michel BERRY

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