x !
Arkistoitu opetusohjelma 2012–2013
Selaat vanhentunutta opetusohjelmaa. Voimassa olevan opetusohjelman löydät täältä.
POLVOA41 Grey Panthers, Silver Surfers and Young Turks: Age and Politics 5 ECTS
Period I Period II Period III Period IV
Language of instruction
Type or level of studies
Intermediate studies
Course unit descriptions in the curriculum
Politiikan tutkimuksen tutkinto-ohjelma
School of Management

General description

Europe is ageing and increasingly populated by ‘grey panthers’, ‘silver surfers’, seniors, ‘baby boomers’ and ‘matures’. In the last two decades in particular grey-specific political mobilisation has witnessed the emergence of such cohort-based parties as ‘Die Grauen’, ‘Suomen Senioripuolue’, ‘Sveriges pensionärers intresseparti’ and the Scottish Senior Citizens Unity Party, which was represented in the Scottish Parliament between 2003 and 2007. With the proportion of the grey electorate expanding, the cost of care for the elderly mounting, the economic case for raising the retirement age overwhelming and sensitivity to ageism growing, this course focuses on ‘grey politics’. It addresses inter alia i) the emergence of ‘grey parties’ ii) the cohesion of the grey electorate iii) the grey policy agenda iv) grey views on topical questions and v) the impact of the ‘grey lobby’ on the mainstream parties. Comparisons will be made throughout between the silver surfers and the ‘young Turks’ – the political behaviour of the students that traditionally have comprised the most active element among the youngest electoral age-group. How wide is the gap in how different generations view politics? Do the traditional voter stereotypes (conservative older voter/left-leaning younger voter) stand up to scrutiny? And how do government respond when ‘greys’ can decide the outcome of elections? 

The course will be seminar based with lecture input followed by thematic discussion. Assessment will be by class participation and student assignments.

The 4-week course will be organised around four overarching themes

1. Age and Political Learning

  • How and when do people learn their politics?
  • Age-related patterns of political socialisation/education/participation
  • First-time voting; abstainers; generational differences in electoral behaviour
  • When should young people get the vote? Should there be an upper age-limit on voting?


2. Age and Party Politics

  • Are there ‘generational parties’ which target and/or derive most of their support from a particular age-group?
  • Democrats ’66; Greens; Young Finns; Seniors’ parties
  • Political parties and age-group mobilisation: party youth organisations; new campaign techniques, use of social media etc


3. Age and Political Representation

  • Are we effectively represented by one age-group?
  • Age patterns in candidate recruitment; the age structure of national legislatures; age and political leadership
  • -Descriptive representation would require a legislative body that is a mirror-image of the age structure of the population as a whole. Is this feasible/desirable?


4. Age and Policy-Making

  • Is there an age-related policy agenda and how do age-groups seek to influence it?
  • Child care provision; youth unemployment; university tuition fees; age-related concessions (transport/leisure facilities etc); retirement age;  personal care for the elderly
  • ‘Grey panther’ and ‘silver surfer’ lobby groups

Enrolment for University Studies

Pre-registration to david.arter@uta.fi by 9th of March.


David Arter, Teacher responsible


12-Mar-2013 – 11-Apr-2013
Lectures 16 hours
Tue 12-Mar-2013 - 9-Apr-2013 weekly at 12-14, Pinni A1081
2-Apr-2013 , no lecture
Thu 14-Mar-2013 - 11-Apr-2013 weekly at 12-14, Main building A4
28-Mar-2013 , no lecture


Numeric 1-5.

Evaluation criteria

Attendance at lectures, course diary and 8-page essay in English or Finnish:


“Why are older people more likely to vote and young persons less likely to do so? Explain and discuss this question, relating your answer to a country of your choice.

Approximately 8 pages in English or Finnish

Deadline April 29th

Please note that late essays will not be accepted

Please not that answers that are not directed at the specific question will not be accepted

Please leave the essays in the box outside room Pinni A4046. Electronic submissions will not be accepted


Wouter van der Brug & Sylvia Kritzinger (2012) ‘Generational Differences in Electoral Behaviour’ Electoral Studies 31, 2, 245-249

Danielo Melo & Daniel Stockener (2013) ‘Age and Political Participation in Germany, France and the UK: A Comparative Analysis’ Comparative European Politics (forthcoming; available online)

Hanna Wass (2007) ‘Generation and Socialization into Electoral Participation in Finland’ Scandinavian Political Studies 30, 1, 1-19

Keith Dowding (2005) ‘Is it rational to vote? Five types of answer and a suggestion’ British Journal of Politics and International Relations 7, 3, 442-459

Russell, A.T. et al (1992) ‘Thatcher’s children: Exploring the links between age and political attitudes’ Political Studies 40, 742-756

Chan, T.K & Clayton, M. (2006) ‘Should the Voting Age be Lowered to Sixteen? Normative and Empirical Considerations’ Political Studies 54, 533-558

Wagner, M. Johann, D. & Kritzinger, S. (2012) ‘Voting at 16: Turnout and the Quality of the Vote Choice’ Electoral Studie