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Normativity and Rhetoric of Choice

Hummingbird's picture

I strongly agree with smalina and peter when it comes to the Emmanuel piece – he assumes such normative standards of time and progressions of life that he leaves no room for those outside of hetero class-privileged existence to follow a different life course. His valuing of life seems in-line entirely with "productivity" – a concept that is incredibly capitalistically based. I agree that Emmanual seems to fall under the category of those who does not fully believe that "the older adult [is] an individual in his or her own right" (Silverstone 2005). In fact, he seems to be doing quite the opposite of what Siverstone supports; rather than approach older adults as individuals, he looks at them as a cohesive group with the same needs and experiences, which is simply not the case.

On the other hand, I think some of his suggestions – for not opting into treatments that may extend life but not necessarily better it – can be very powerful and supportive to those who would chose to opt-out, but may feel it is socially unacceptable to do so. Our case study about Elizabeth is one example of this. She needed the support of her family, friends, and society, and wasn't fully getting it. And though she seemed set on following through with her decision to discontinue cancer treatment, she may have felt less stressed or anxious about it if she did feel this was a socially acceptable option. Of course, Elizabeth was not yet 75, but increasing rhetoric around feeling satisfied with one's life and open, now, to death could have made the process easier on her and her family.