Energy and Aging in the Danish Welfare State: Ethnographic Explorations of an Omnipresent but Forgotten Concept


  • Henrik Hvenegaard Mikkelsen University of Cophenhagen
  • Nete Schwennesen
  • Aske Juul Lassen University of Cophenhagen



Policy, old age, energy, conversion, welfare state



Author Biography

Nete Schwennesen

University of Cophenhagen


Andersen, Pernille Tanggaard, and Jens-Jørgen Jensen. 2010. Healthcare Reform in Denmark. Scandinavian Journal of Social Medicine 38(3): 246-52.

Busck, Steen, and Henning Poulsen. 2002. Danmarks historie i grundtræk. Århus: Aarhus Universitetsforlag.

Christensen, Loa Kristine Teglgaard. 2017a. "Når institutionen træder ind over dørtærsklen/When the institution steps in over the threshold." Form Til Velfærd/formingWelfare. Kunstakademiets Arkitektskolens Forlag.

---. 2017b. "Selvhjulpenhed som moralsk imperativ: Bag om fænomenet hverdagsrehabilitering." Aldringens Veje. Forlaget Frydendal.

Coelho, Ricardo. 2009. “On the Concept of Energy: History and Philosophy for Science Teaching.” Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 1:2648–52

Ertner, Sara Marie. 2015. “Infrastructuring Design – An Ethnographic Study of Welfare Technologies and Design in a Public-Private and User-Driven Innovation Project.” PhD dissertation, IT University.

Foucault, M. 1994. Security, territory, population. In: Foucault, M. Ethics, subjectivity and truth. Vol. 1. Penguin Books. 67-71.

Hastrup, Frida. 2014. “Analogue Analysis: Ethnography as Inventive Conversation.” Ethnologia Europaea 44(2):48–60.

Jöhncke, Steffe. 2007. “VelfærdsstatensomIntegrationsprojekt.” In Integration, edited by Karen Fogh Olwing and Karsten Pærregaard, 37–62. Copenhagen: Museum Tusculanum Press.

Katz, Stephen. 2000. “Busy Bodies: Activity, Aging, and the Management of Everyday Life.” Journal of Aging Studies 14:2:135-52.

---. 2013. Active and Successful Aging. “Lifestyle as a Gerontological Idea. Recherches Sociologiques Et Anthropologiques 44:33-49.

Lacan, Jacques. 1990. Television: A Challenge to the Psychoanalytic Establishment. New York: W.W. Norton & Company.

Lamb, Sarah. (ed.) 2017. Successful Aging as a Contemporary Obsession: Global Perspectives. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press.

Lassen, Aske J. 2014a. “Active Ageing and the Unmaking of Old Age.” PhD diss., University of Copenhagen.

---. 2014b. “Billiards, Rhythms, Collectives – Billiards at a Danish Activity Centre as a Culturally Specific Form of Active Ageing.” Ethnologia Europaea 44:57-74.

---. 2017. “Shaping Old Age: Innovation Partnerships, Senior Centres and Billiards Tables as Active Ageing Technologies.” In Framing Age: Contested Knowledge in Science and Politics, edited by Iris Loffeier, Benoit Majerus, and Thibauld Moulaert, 222-36. London: Routledge.

Lassen, Aske J., and Michael Andersen. 2016. “What Enhancement Techniques Suggest about the Good Death.” Culture Unbound 8:104-21.

Lassen, Aske J. and Astrid P. Jespersen. 2017. “Getting Old and Keeping Going: The Motivation Technologies of Active Aging in Denmark.” In Successful Aging as a Contemporary Obsession: Global Perspectives, edited by S. Lamb, 141-53. New Bruncwick: Rutgers University Press.

Lassen, Aske J., and Tiago Moreira. 2014. “Unmaking Old Age: Political and Cognitive Formats of Active Aging.” Journal of Aging Studies 30:33-46.

Lien, Marianne E. and Law, John. 2012. “Slippery: Field Notes on Empirical Ontology.” [Accessed July 18, 2019]

Ludvigsen, Bodil Hedegaard. 2014. “Medborgerskab og tilpasning: ældre mennesker med hjemmesygepleje: perspektiver på sociale relationer, forebyggelse, medicin og døden.” PhD diss. University of Copenhagen.

Macnicol, John. 2015. Neoliberalising Old Age. Place: Cambridge University Press.

Mcginn, Colin. 2011. Basic Structures of Reality: Essays in Meta-Physics. New York: Oxford University Press.

Mikkelsen, Henrik H. 2016. “Unthinkable Solitude: Successful Aging in Denmark through the Lacanian Real.” Ethos, 44(4): 448-463.

---. 2017. “Never Too Late for Pleasure: Aging, Neoliberalism and the Politics of Potentiality in Denmark.” American Ethnologist, 44(4): 646-656.

Minkler, Meredith, and Martha B. Holstein. 2008. “From Civil Rights to ... Civic Engagement? Concerns of Two Older Critical Gerontologists about a ‘New Social Movement’ and What it Portends.” Journal of Aging Studies 22:196-204.

Moreira, Tiago. 2009, “Prologue: Preventing Alzheimers Disease: Health, Ageing and Justice.” In Health, Promotion and Prevention Programmes in Practice, edited by T. Mathar, and Y. Janssen, 29-52. Berlin: Transcript Verlag.

Nørtoft, Kamilla. 2013. “‘Did You Imagine Older People Could Be Like This?’ A Kaleidoscope of Ageing, Health and Processes of Identity in an Urban Danish Context.” PhD diss., Aarhus University, Denmark.

Otto, Lene. 2013, “Negotiating a Healthy Body in Old Age: Preventive Home Visits and Biopolitics.” International Journal of Aging in Later Life 8:111-35.

Rupp, Stephanie. 2013. “Considering Energy: E = mc2 = (magic culture)2.” In Cultures of Energy: Power, Practices, Technologies, edited by Sarah Strauss, Stephanie Rupp, S., and Thomas Love, 79-95. Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast Press.

Schwennesen, Nete. 2016. “Et Omsorgsfuldt Selvbedrag: Om Brug af Robotter der Imiterer Mennesker i Ældreplejen.” Gerontologi, 32(1): 28-33.

---. 2017. “When Self-Tracking Enters Physical Rehabilitation: From ‘Pushed’ Self-Tracking to Ongoing Affective Encounters in Arrangements of Care” Digital Health 3: 1-8. DOI: 10.1177/2055207617725231.