Clinical, sociological and cultural dimensions of frailty: a dialogue


The workshop comprises an interdisciplinary conversation around new and developing clinical technologies to identify and intervene in frailty in older people. For the past twenty years, clinical medicine has attempted to identify, measure and intervene in the trajectory of frailty, using increasingly refined techniques and technologies across a range of different settings. It represents a key development in how clinical medicine views the ageing body with genealogical continuity and discontinuity with the concept of senescence. However, unlike the older concept of senescence, frailty is not located entirely within the body but also has important socio-cultural, sociological, psychological and environmental dimensions amenable to modification. Importantly it has a subjective dimension within the individual life course which actively shapes the trajectory of frailty itself. Thus frailty lies at the nexus of several confluences – physiological, psycho-social, cultural – which define old age in contemporary society, and which in turn shape and define how frailty is understood. The workshop brings together researchers in the field of the social sciences, the humanities, and medicine to explore how cross-fertilisation of concepts, theoretical tools and key questions originating in individual disciplinary areas can facilitate an enriched and multi-layered understanding of frailty and its place in shaping perceptions both of old age and the life course.

This workshop examines, through multi-disciplinary dialogue, medical innovations around frailty in old age, specifically the development and operationalisation of two main models for identifying and intervening in frailty. It considers their impact on shaping views of old age and perceptions of the older body in western societies from the perspective of scholars in sociology, anthropology, medical humanities, philosophy and science and technology studies, as well as clinicians.

Day 1: Themes 1 and 2; evening: joint discussion of a movie
Day 2: Themes 3 and 4; evening:
Day 3: themes 5 and summing up

Event Details