Much of the extant literature views older workers through the lenses of human capital theory or ageism and age discrimination, both of which emphasise older workers’ value deficit. Using the case of a company that employs older workers, this article explores how ongoing exchanges between the organisation, its employees and its customers create three inter-related types of value: surplus value, staging value and accrual value. The organisation extracts surplus value by employing an older workforce who, grateful for employment during older age, reciprocate by drawing on embodied social capital to gift staging value, which sees customers reciprocate by endorsing the organisation’s products. Employment in this case is viewed as extending beyond pure commodity exchange to incorporate elements of gift exchange. The ongoing interaction and exchange with others through their work is the means by which the employees attach accrual value to themselves, thereby reproducing the good and proper ageing subject.
SOURCE: Foweraker B, and Cutcher L. “An Ageless Gift: Reciprocity and Value Creation By and For Older Workers.” Work, Employment and Society, April 24, 2019.
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