10. september 2019

Energy and Aging in the Danish Welfare State

In what ways can the concept of energy stimulate anthropological research on the relationship between aging and the state? This is the key question addressed by a special issue of Anthropology & Aging edited by Henrik Hvenegaard Mikkelsen, Nete Schwennesen and Aske Juhl Lassen. The special issue sheds light on the way ideas of energy permeate the everyday lives of older people in Denmark and the policy discourses and practices surrounding them.

This focus provides a new perspective on the Scandinavian welfare states, based on their endeavor to 'energize' their populations. The contributions to this special issue explores the underlying conditions within the Danish welfare state where energy emerges as a meaningful concept. As a conceptual device, energy enables people to talk about or imagine the invisible forces that govern and prompt action. But, it also indexes the relationship between distinct material agents such as food, the body, technologies, or other material entities and non-substantial phenomena such as sleep and notions of well-being. 

Henrik Hvenegaard contributed with the article ‘Energizing the Danish Welfare state’. The article appropriates the concept of energy in order to analyze the interaction between the Danish welfare state and the category of citizens referred to among social workers and health professionals as ‘passive citizens’.

Nete Schwennesen contributed with the article 'Surveillance Entanglements: Digital Data Flows and Ageing Bodies in Motion in the Danish Welfare State. Drawing on ethnographic material, this article traces how movement is impacted by the links and forces generated by a specific digital rehabilitation assemblage.

Read more on the Special issue