>Grey horizons in sunny Cologne


Having spent day after day commuting into London to revise a conference paper on Eastern Europe’s pensioners’ parties, I finally headed off to Cologne to the workshop on Politics and Public Policies in Ageing Societies, organized the Max Planck Institute for The Study on Societies, not to be confused with other Max Planck Institutes (or should that be Institutes Max Planck?) as Cologne has several. As the politics of ageing is a relatively new area for me, the two day conference was an interesting one and, helped by liberal supplies of decent coffee and fruit juice and well functioning air conditioning, I learned a lot. My own paper got a more encouraging response than I had expected, which I guess means it will get another reworking means and so won’t be retiring just yet.

Although there were some people working on ‘grey’ interest groups, the balance of attendees reflected the current bias towards researching ageing societies through the lens of social policy, demography, gerontology and pension policy, although as Achim Goerres’s excellent introductory made clear there are plenty of mainstream political sciences perspectives waiting to explored. Indeed, the (German) notion of a ‘generational contract’ seems to be direct invitation to political theorists (of whom there were none at the conference) to develop some kind of contractarian perspective on the whole problem.

Emerging into the unexpected heat, I navigated my back to Cologne’s main station, had an ice cream and a walk near the cathedral until backache and stifling temperature made the S-Bahn to airport a more appealing prospect. Here, I settled down with a couple of litres of mineral water, an iPod full of radio documentaries and a crime novel to wait for the flight back to Gatwick, pausing occasionally to improve my German by dipping into a tabloid someone had left to read about Radovan Karadzić working als Sex-Guru. Funny they didn’t mention that in The Guardian.

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply