Institute for Ageing

Staff Profile

Professor Thomas Scharf

Prof of Social Gerontology

Background

I am Professor of Social Gerontology in the Institute of Health & Society and lead the theme on ‘Ageing: economic and social impact’ within the Newcastle University Institute for Ageing (NUIA).  I joined Newcastle at the start of 2016, having previously been Director of the Irish Centre for Social Gerontology, NUI Galway, Ireland. I completed my undergraduate studies in Combined Honours (German and Politics) at Newcastle University in 1985, before moving on to Aston University where I was awarded a PhD in Political Science in 1991. I have since held teaching and research posts at Bangor University, Keele University and the University of Applied Sciences in Worms, Germany.

I am currently President Elect of the British Society of Gerontology, and will be President from 2019 to 2022. I am a Fellow of the UK Academy of Social Sciences and have held visiting professorships at NUI Galway, the University of Manchester, Keele University and the University of Vienna. I sit on the Advisory Board of the German Ageing Survey (DEAS) and have held a similar position on The Irish Longitudinal Study of Ageing (TILDA). 

Areas of expertise

  • Ageing and Social Policy
  • Environments of Ageing
  • Social Inclusion and Exclusion in Later Life
  • Inequalities in Later Life

Google scholar: Click here.

SCOPUS: Click here.

Research

My research addresses issues relating to social inclusion and exclusion in later life, often with a focus on the spaces and places in which inclusion and exclusion arise and on the policy responses to forms of exclusion. My work has been supported by major grants from the Economic and Social Research Council, the New Dynamics of Ageing programme, the Irish Research Council, and The Atlantic Philanthropies. Research findings have been published in such journals as Journal of Gerontology: Social Sciences, the European Journal of AgeingAgeing and Society, and the Journal of Rural Studies. My most recent book is From Exclusion to Inclusion in Old Age: A Global Challenge (2012, co-edited with Norah Keating and published by The Policy Press). With Chris Phillipson and Toni Calasanti, I currently co-edit the Ageing in a Global Context book series for Policy Press.

In 2017, working in collaboration with colleagues at ILC-UK, I led a team commissioned by Centre for Ageing Better to produce a scoping review on inequalities in later life. This work highlights the persistent and deep-seated nature of inequalities affecting people aged 50 and over in England.


Postgraduate Supervision

I welcome applications from potential doctoral candidates who are interested in social aspects of ageing. Specific areas of interest concern: dimensions of inclusion/exclusion in later life; ageing in urban and/or rural communities; age-friendly cities and communities; social relationships in later life; civic participation; poverty and material deprivation; intergenerational relations.

Past PhD students

Rahmah Mohd Amin ‘The health of older Malays in Britain: a qualitative exploration’ (PhD awarded 2005)
Allison E. Smith ‘The geographical experience of older people living in deprived urban neighbourhoods of England and Canada’ (PhD awarded 2006)
Charles Simpson ‘Older people’s engagement with neighbourhood renewal’ (PhD awarded 2010)
Jackie Reynolds ‘Social inclusion in later life: the role of arts and culture’ (PhD awarded 2011)
Christine FitzGerald ‘Exploring behavioural change in community meals provision for older people’ (PhD awarded 2015)
Marie Hanmore Cawley ‘Intergenerational learning: collaborations to activate young children’s civic engagement in Irish primary school’ (PhD awarded 2015)
Caroline Finn ‘The inter-relationship between poverty and gender across the life course’ (PhD awarded 2016)
Alison Herbert ‘What are the perspectives on ageing of mid-life women in rural Ireland?’ (PhD awarded 2017)
Mary Greene ‘Energy biographies: careers of domestic practice over the life course’ (PhD awarded 2017)

Current PhD students

Bernard McDonald ‘Implementing an age-friendly county programme in Fingal: a qualitative study exploring multiple perspectives on challenges, strategies and outcomes’
Emily Loughlin ‘Exploring independence across the life course’
Libby Morrison ‘Co-ordinating for age: an assessment of intergenerational justice and rural disadvantage in Northumberland’
Arlind Reuter ‘Social connectedness of ageing adults’

Publications

  • Harte R, Hall T, Glynn L, Rodríguez-Molinero A, Scharf T, Quinlan LR, ÓLaighin G. Enhancing home health mobile phone app usability through general smartphone training: usability and learnability case study. JMIR Human Factors 2018, 5(2), e18.
  • McDonald B, Walsh K, Scharf T. Creating an age-friendly county in Ireland: stakeholders’ perspectives on implementation All other details remain the same. In: Buffel, T; Handler, S; Phillipson, C, ed. Age-friendly cities and communities: A global perspective. Bristol: The Policy Press, 2018, pp.143-166.
  • Hanmore-Cawley M, Scharf T. Intergenerational learning: collaborations to develop civic literacy in young children in Irish primary school. Journal of Intergenerational Relationships 2018, 16(1), 104-122.
  • Harte R, Glynn L, Rodríguez-Molinero A, Baker PMA, Scharf T, Quinlan LR, Ó'Laighin G. A human-centered design methodology to enhance the usability, human factors, and user experience of connected health systems: a three-phase methodology. JMIR Human Factors 2017, 4(1), 1-21.
  • Warburton J, Scharf T, Walsh K. Flying under the radar? Risks of social exclusion for older people in rural communities in Australia, Ireland and Northern Ireland. Sociologia Ruralis 2017, 57(4), 459-480.
  • Scharf T, Beach B, Hochlaf D, Shaw C, Bamford S-M. Scoping review of inequalities in later life. London, UK: Centre for Ageing Better, 2017.
  • Walsh K, Scharf T, Keating N. Social exclusion of older persons: a scoping review and conceptual framework. European Journal of Ageing 2017, 14(1), 81-98.
  • Scharf T, Walsh K, O'Shea E. Ageing in Rural Places. In: Shucksmith, M; Brown, DL, ed. Routledge International Handbook of Rural Studies. London: Routledge, 2016, pp.50-61.
  • Scharf T, McDonald B, Atkins AM. Promoting civic engagement in later life through the Touchstone Programme: a resource and research guide. Galway: Irish Centre for Social Gerontology, NUI Galway, 2016.
  • Walsh K, O'Shea E, Scharf T. Rural ageing in farm communities in Ireland: Changing agricultural resources – changing lives. In: Skinner, M; Hanlon, N, ed. Ageing Resource Communities: New frontiers of rural population change, community development and voluntarism. Abingdon; New York: Routledge, 2016, pp.59-73.
  • Harte R, Quinlan LR, Glynn L, Rodriguez-Molinero A, Scharf T, Carenas C, Reixach E, Garcia J, Carrabina J, O'Laighin G. A Multi-Stage Human Factors and Comfort Assessment of Instrumented Insoles Designed for Use in a Connected Health Infrastructure. Journal of Personalized Medicine 2015, 5(4), 487-508.
  • Scharf T. Between inclusion and exclusion in later life: perspectives from Ireland. In: Walsh, K; Carney, G; Ní Léime, Á, ed. Ageing through Austerity: Critical Perspectives from Ireland. Bristol, UK: The Policy Press, 2015, pp.115-131.
  • Conlon C, Carney G, Timonen V, Scharf T. 'Emergent reconstruction’ in grounded theory: learning from team-based interview research. Qualitative Research 2015, 15(1), 39-56.
  • Scharf T, Keating N. Exclusion sociale des personnes âgées: concepts, dimensions, facteurs et politiques publiques. In: Viriot Durandal, J-P; Raymond,É; Moulaert, T; Charpentier, M, ed. Droits de vieillir et citoyenneté des aînés: pour une perspective internationale. Québec, Canada: Presses de l’Université du Québec, 2015, pp.283-296.
  • Edmondson R, Scharf T. Rural and urban ageing: contributions of cultural gerontology. In: Twigg, J; Martin, W, ed. Routledge Handbook of Cultural Gerontology. London: Routledge, 2015, pp.412-419.
  • Carney G, Scharf T, Timonen V, Conlon C. ‘Blessed are the young, for they shall inherit the national debt’: solidarity between generations in the Irish crisis. Critical Social Policy 2014, 34(3), 312-332.
  • Ward P, Walsh K, Scharf T. Measuring old-age social exclusion in a cross-border context. Galway: Irish Centre for Social Gerontology, NUI Galway, 2014.
  • Conlon C, Timonen V, Scharf T, Carney G. Consumption of care and intergenerational relations in the Irish context. Families, Relationships and Societies 2014, 3(1), 139-142.
  • Liddle J, Scharf T, Bartlam B, Bernard M, Sim J. Exploring the age-friendliness of purpose-built retirement communities: evidence from England. Ageing and Society 2014, 34(9), 1601-1629.
  • Walsh K, O'Shea E, Scharf T, Shucksmith M. Exploring the Impact of Informal Practices on Social Exclusion and Age-Friendliness for Older People in Rural Communities. Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology 2014, 24(1), 37-49.
  • Burholt V, Scharf T. Poor health and loneliness in later life: the role of depressive symptoms, social resources, and rural environments. The Journals of Gerontology Series B: Psychological Sciences & Social Sciences 2014, 69B(2), 311-324.
  • Conlon C, Timonen V, Carney G, Scharf T. Women (re)negotiating care across family generations. Gender & Society 2014, 28(5), 729-751.
  • Scharf T, Timonen V, Carney G, Conlon C. Changing Generations: findings from new research on intergenerational relations in Ireland. Galway & Dublin: Irish Centre for Social Gerontology, NUI Galway; Social Policy and Ageing Research Centre, TCD, 2013.
  • Ziegler F, Scharf T. Community-based participatory action research: opportunities and challenges for critical gerontology. In: Baars, J; Dohmen, J; Grenier, A; Phillipson, C, ed. Ageing, meaning and social structure: connecting critical and humanistic gerontology. Bristol: The Policy Press, 2013, pp.159-181.
  • Bartlam B, Bernard M, Liddle J, Scharf T, Sim J. Creating home-like places in a purpose-built retirement village in the UK. In: Rowles, GD; Bernard, M, ed. Environmental gerontology: making meaningful places in old age. New York: Springer, 2013, pp.253-280.
  • Scharf T, Buffel T, Phillipson C. Erfahrungen mit der sozialräumlichen Exklusion und Inklusion älterer Menschen in sozialbenachteiligten innerstädtischen Nachbarschaften von Belgien und England. Jahrbuch für Kritische Medizin und Gesundheitswissenschaften 2013, 48, 47-70.
  • Buffel T, Phillipson C, Scharf T. Experiences of neighbourhood exclusion and inclusion among older people living in deprived inner-city areas in Belgium and England. Ageing and Society 2013, 33(1), 89-109.
  • Timonen V, Conlon C, Scharf T, Carney G. Family, state, class and solidarity: re-conceptualising intergenerational solidarity through the grounded theory approach. European Journal of Ageing 2013, 10(3), 171-179.
  • Burholt V, Scharf T, Walsh K. Imagery and imaginary of islander identity: older people and migration in Irish small-island communities. Journal of Rural Studies 2013, 31, 1-12.
  • Walsh K, Scharf T, Cullinan J, Finn C. Deprivation and its measurement in later life: findings from a mixed-methods study in Ireland. Galway: Irish Centre for Social Gerontology, NUI Galway, 2012.
  • Scharf T, Keating N, ed. From exclusion to inclusion in old age: a global challenge. Bristol: The Policy Press, 2012.
  • Walsh K, O'Shea E, Scharf T. Ageing in changing community contexts: cross-border perspectives from rural Ireland and Northern Ireland. Journal of Rural Studies 2012, 28(4), 347-357.
  • Buffel T, Phillipson C, Scharf T. Ageing in urban environments: developing ‘age-friendly’ cities. Critical Social Policy 2012, 32(4), 597-617.
  • Finn C, Scharf T. An overview of intergenerational programmes in Ireland. Galway: Irish Centre for Social Gerontology, NUI Galway, 2012.
  • O'Shea E, Walsh K, Scharf T. Exploring community perceptions of the relationship between age and social exclusion in rural areas. Quality in Ageing and Older Adults 2012, 13(1), 16-26.
  • Sim J, Liddle J, Bernard M, Scharf T, Bartlam B. Home from home? A mixed-methods study of relocation within a purpose-built retirement community. Journal of Housing for the Elderly 2012, 26(4), 372-394.
  • Timonen V, Scharf T, Conlon C, Carney G. Intergenerational solidarity and justice in Ireland: towards a new national dialogue. Journal of Intergenerational Relationships 2012, 10(3), 317-321.
  • Keating N, Scharf T. Revisiting social exclusion of older adults. In: Scharf, T; Keating, N, ed. From exclusion to inclusion in old age: a global challenge. Bristol: The Policy Press, 2012, pp.163-171.
  • Walsh K, O'Shea E, Scharf T. Social exclusion and ageing in diverse rural communities in Ireland, Northern Ireland and Scotland. Galway: Healthy Ageing in Rural Communities (HARC) Research Network, 2012.
  • Scharf T, Keating N. Social exclusion in later life: a global challenge. In: Scharf, T; Keating, N, ed. From exclusion to inclusion in old age: a global challenge. Bristol: The Policy Press, 2012, pp.1-16.
  • Bernard M, Liddle J, Bartlam B, Scharf T, Sim J. Then and now: evolving community in the context of a retirement village. Ageing & Society 2012, 32(1), 103-129.
  • Middling S, Bailey J, Maslin-Prothero S, Scharf T. Gardening and the social engagement of older people. Working with Older People 2011, 15(3), 112-122.
  • Scharf T. Loneliness: an urban perspective. In: Age Concern Oxfordshire, ed. Safeguarding the convoy: a call to action from the Campaign to End Loneliness. Oxford: Age Concern Oxfordshire, 2011, pp.31-34.
  • Walsh K, Connolly S, Gavin M, Maguire C, McDonagh J, Murray M, O'Shea E, Scharf T. Older people in rural communities: exploring attachment, contribution and diversity in rural Ireland and Northern Ireland. Galway: Healthy Ageing in Rural Communities (HARC) Research Network, 2010. In Preparation.
  • Shepherd G, Parsonage M, Scharf T. Social inclusion: research and evidence-based practice. In: Boardman, J; Currie, A; Killaspy, H; Mezey, G, ed. Social inclusion and mental health. London: Royal College of Psychiatrists, 2010, pp.279-294.
  • Scharf T. Social policies for ageing societies: perspectives from Europe. In: Phillipson, C; Dannefer, D, ed. The SAGE handbook of social gerontology. New York/London: Sage, 2010, pp.497-512.
  • Scharf T. Too tight to mention: unequal income in older age. In: Cann, P; Dean, M, ed. Unequal ageing: the untold story of exclusion in old age. Bristol: The Policy Press, 2009, pp.25-52.
  • Scharf T, Bartlam B. Ageing and social exclusion in rural communities. In: Keating, N, ed. Rural ageing: a good place to grow old?. Bristol: The Policy Press, 2008, pp.97-108.
  • Scharf T, De Jong Gierveld J. Loneliness in urban neighbourhoods: an Anglo-Dutch comparison. European Journal of Ageing 2008, 5(2), 103-115.
  • Bernard M, Scharf T, ed. Critical perspectives on ageing societies. Bristol: The Policy Press, 2007.
  • Scharf T, Phillipson C, Smith AE. Aging in a difficult place: assessing the impact of urban deprivation on older people. In: Wahl, H-W; Tesch-Römer, C; Hoff, A, ed. New dynamics in old age: individual, environmental and societal perspectives. Amityville, NY: Baywood, 2007, pp.153-173.
  • Bernard M, Scharf T. Critical perspectives on ageing societies. In: Bernard, M; Scharf, T, ed. Critical perspectives on ageing societies. Bristol: The Policy Press, 2007, pp.3-12.
  • Scharf T, Bartlam B, Hislop J, Bernard M, Dunning A, Sim J. Necessities of life: older people’s experiences of poverty. London: Help the Aged, 2006.
  • Scharf T, Bartlam B. Rural disadvantage: quality of life and disadvantage amongst older people – a pilot study. London: Commission for Rural Communities, 2006.
  • Holland C, Kellaher L, Peace S, Scharf T, Breeze E, Gow J, Gilhooly M. Getting out and about. In: Walker, A, ed. Understanding quality of life in old age. Maidenhead: Open University Press, 2005, pp.49-63.
  • Scharf T, Phillipson C, Smith AE. Multiple exclusion and quality of life amongst excluded older people in disadvantaged neighbourhoods. London: Social Exclusion Unit, Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, 2005.
  • Scharf T, Wenger GC, Thissen F, Burholt V. Older people in rural Europe: a comparative analysis. In: Schmied, D, ed. Winning and losing: the changing geography of Europe’s rural areas. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2005, pp.187-202.
  • Scharf T, Phillipson C, Smith AE. Poverty and social exclusion: experiences of older people from black and ethnic minority groups in deprived areas. In: Walker, A; Northmore, S, ed. Growing older in a black and minority ethnic group. London: Age Concern England, 2005, pp.33-44.
  • Scharf T. Recruiting older research participants: lessons from deprived neighbourhoods. In: Holland, C, ed. Recruitment and sampling: qualitative research with older people. London: Centre for Policy on Ageing, 2005, pp.29-43.
  • Phillipson C, Scharf T. Rural and urban perspectives on growing old: developing a new research agenda. European Journal of Ageing 2005, 2(2), 67-75.
  • Scharf T, Phillipson C, Smith AE. Social exclusion and quality of life of excluded older people. Working with Older People 2005, 9(3), 32-35.
  • Scharf T, Phillipson C, Smith AE. Social exclusion of older people in deprived urban communities of England. European Journal of Ageing 2005, 2(2), 76-87.
  • Victor CR, Scharf T. Social isolation and loneliness. In: Walker, A, ed. Understanding quality of life in old age. Maidenhead: Open University Press, 2005, pp.100-116.
  • Smith AE, Sim J, Scharf T, Phillipson C. Determinants of quality of life amongst older people in deprived neighbourhoods. Ageing and Society 2004, 24(5), 793-814.
  • Scharf T, Smith AE. Older people in urban neighbourhoods: addressing the risk of social exclusion in later life. In: Phillipson, C; Allan, G; Morgan, D, ed. Social networks and social exclusion. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2004, pp.162-179.
  • Scharf T, Phillipson C, Smith AE. Poverty and social exclusion – growing older in deprived urban neighbourhoods. In: Walker, A; Hagan Hennessy, C, ed. Growing older – quality of life in old age. Maidenhead: Open University Press, 2004, pp.81-106.
  • Phillipson C, Scharf T. The impact of government policy on social exclusion of older people: a review of the literature. London: Social Exclusion Unit, Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, 2004.
  • Scharf T, Phillipson C, Smith AE. Older people’s perceptions of the neighbourhood: evidence from socially deprived urban areas. Sociological Research Online 2003, 8(4).
  • Scharf T, Phillipson C, Smith AE, Kingston P. Growing older in socially deprived areas: social exclusion in later life. London: Help the Aged, 2002.
  • Walker A, Scharf T, Phillipson C, Smith A, Kingston P, Tester S, Hubbard G, Downs M, Victor C, Scambler S, Bond J, Bowling A, Gabriel Z, Banister D, Sutton D. Extending quality of life: Findings from a major UK research programme. Gerontologist 2002, 42(special issue 1), 36-37.
  • Scharf T, Phillipson C, Smith AE, Kingston P. Older people in deprived areas: perceptions of the neighbourhood. Quality in Ageing 2002, 3(2), 11-21.
  • Scharf T. Ageing and intergenerational relationships in rural Germany. Ageing and Society 2001, 21(5), 547-566. In Preparation.
  • Scharf T, Phillipson C, Kingston P, Smith AE. Social exclusion and ageing. Education and Ageing 2001, 16(3), 303-320.
  • Scharf T. Social gerontology in Germany: historical trends and recent developments. Ageing and Society 2001, 21(4), 489-505.
  • Scharf T, Wenger GC, Thissen F, Burholt V. Soziale Integration und Partizipation älterer Menschen in ländlichen Räumen Europas [Social integration and participation of older people in Europe’s rural areas]. Sozialer Fortschritt 2001, 50(9-10), 208-213.
  • Scharf T. Sozialpolitik in Großbritannien: vom Armengesetz zum “Dritten Weg”. In: Kraus, K; Geisen, T, ed. Sozialstaat in Europa. Geschichte, Entwicklung, Perspektiven. Opladen: Westdeutscher Verlag, 2001, pp.43-62.
  • Scharf T, Wenger GC. Cross-national empirical research in gerontology: the OPERA experience. Education and Ageing 2000, 15(3), 379-397.
  • Scharf T. Ageing and ageing policy in Germany. Oxford/Providence: Berg, 1998.
  • Scharf T. Family support of older people in post-communist Germany. In: Kolinsky, E, ed. Social transformation and the family in post-communist Germany. Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1998, pp.184-206.
  • Scharf T. Informal support for older people in post-unification East Germany: stability and change. Journal of Cross-Cultural Gerontology 1997, 12(1), 61-72.
  • Scharf T, Wenger GC, ed. International perspectives on community care for older people. Aldershot: Avebury, 1995.
  • Blühdorn I, Krause F, Scharf T, ed. The green agenda: environmental policy and politics in Germany. Keele: Keele University Press, 1995.
  • Thissen F, Wenger GC, Scharf T. Community structure and support network variations in rural areas: a United Kingdom-Netherlands comparison. In: Scharf, T; Wenger, GC, ed. International perspectives on community care for older people. Aldershot: Avebury, 1995, pp.59-93.
  • Blühdorn I, Krause F, Scharf T. Introduction: getting ready for the third phase. In: Blühdorn, I; Krause, F; Scharf, T, ed. The green agenda: environmental policy and politics in Germany. Keele: Keele University Press, 1995, pp.11-22.
  • Scharf T. Older people: coping with the challenges of everyday life. In: Kolinsky, E, ed. Between hope and fear: everyday life in East Germany. Keele: Keele University Press, 1995, pp.201-225.
  • Scharf T. The German Greens: a political profile. In: Blühdorn, I;Krause, F; Scharf, T, ed. The green agenda: environmental policy and politics in Germany. Keele: Keele University Press, 1995, pp.131-142.
  • Scharf T. The social integration of older people in rural Europe. In: Scharf, T; Wenger, GC, ed. International perspectives on community care for older people. Aldershot: Avebury, 1995, pp.95-121.
  • Scharf T. Waving not drowning: the consolidation of the German Greens. German Politics 1995, 4(2), 172-181.
  • Scharf T. The German Greens: challenging the consensus. Oxford/Providence: Berg, 1994.
  • Scharf T. Red-Green coalitions at local level in Hesse. In: Kolinsky, E, ed. The Greens in West Germany: organisation and policy making. Oxford/New York: Berg, 1989, pp.159-188.