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The BSG Outstanding Achievement Award 2016

Professor Julia Twigg

Many congratulations to this year’s winner of the BSG’s most prestigious Award, which is given in recognition of significant and lasting contributions to British Social Gerontology. The judging committee was unanimous in its recommendation and Sheila Peace presented the award at the BSG Conference in July.

Julia Twigg has been an influential figure in social gerontology for over 30 years and has made highly original and, in many cases, path-breaking contributions to the discipline. These contributions include,

  • Research on caregiving in the 1980s, which helped to formulate how informal care is understood, contributing to academic debates on care and gender, as well as to policy making in this field.
  • Ground-breaking work on the provision of bathing and washing that demonstrated how bodywork was at the heart of social care. This research made a significant contribution to sociological explanations of bodywork.
  • Julia’s research on the body and embodiment opened-up a vital new avenue of analysis in social gerontology.
  • Work on dress and the constitution of age that introduced a new topic to social gerontology and brought in new theorising from sociology, anthropology, and cultural and dress studies. These areas had hitherto neglected the topic of age, so her influence has also operated in reverse, spreading the analysis of age into new disciplinary areas. Dress encapsulates many key debates within cultural gerontology: the interplay of the biological and the cultural in ageing; the changing definition and location of old age; the emergence of the Third Age and of consumption in shaping, defining and enabling its performance.
  • Research on frail older people and dress explored the relevance of dress for people with dementia in supporting the continuity of their identity and embodied personhood, demonstrating how work around identity and culture is not confined to the third age. This research also brought theories of materiality into social gerontology.
  • Julia has been a seminal figure in the development of cultural gerontology, for example in the Routledge Handbook of Cultural Gerontology (2015).

As well as these significant and original contributions to the discipline Julia has been an active supporter of the BSG for over 20 years – as a member of the Executive, on the editorial board of Ageing & Society (as well as the Journal of Aging Studies, International Journal of Ageing and Later Life and Journal of Social Policy), and appearing and mentoring at ERA events.

These major and lasting contributions to British Social Gerontology, and many more not listed in this summary, demonstrate why Julia Twigg is eminently deserving of this award and why there was unanimity among the judging committee. The international gerontological community will also share this appreciation of Julia’s contributions which extend far beyond the UK. Once again many congratulations to Julia.

Alan Walker