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Biomedical and geriatric technologies are having major impacts on the development and management of human longevity. Our contention in this special issue is that longevity should be considered as a point of departure for new forms of politics in which social sciences, in particular sociology and politics, can play an important role. In this introduction, we argue that emerging consumer markets in biomedicine are incrementally redefining the relationship between old age and society. Techno-economic transformations are creating new sites of vulnerability that are masked by medical utopias of good health and “living forever.” In this context, it is unlikely that such technologies will be able to overcome inequalities in distribution and may well exacerbate various forms of injustice. By drawing on notions of institutional precariousness and scarcity, we conclude that to maintain any degree of social solidarity, increasing longevity will force the emergence of a “sociology of limits.”


Institute for Religion, Politics, and Society

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Journal Article

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