Researcher profile


Professor Thomas Scharf   

Introducing Thomas Scharf  

Tom Scharf is Professor of Social Gerontology and Director of the Irish Centre for Social Gerontology at NUI Galway, Ireland. With a first degree in German and Politics from the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne and a doctorate in political science from Aston University, his research encompasses the fields of social gerontology, social policy and political science. Tom was elected to the UK Academy of Social Sciences in 2009 in recognition of his work on ageing.

Tom’s first post in gerontology was as a Research Officer on the cross-national OPERA (Older People in Europe’s Rural Areas) study. Based at Bangor University, he worked with Clare Wenger on the UK component of this mixed methods study between 1990-1992. Tom moved to Keele University in 1992, initially taking up a lectureship in Modern German Studies. In 1998, following a two-year period as Visiting Professor of European Studies at the Fachhochschule Worms, Germany, he returned to Keele, formally joining the Centre for Social Gerontology in order to pursue his interests in the social policy of old age. He was Director of the Centre from 2003 until 2010 when he took up his post in Galway.

Critical Perspectives on Ageing Societies

During his time at Keele, Tom worked with colleagues in the Centre for Social Gerontology to develop a programme of research on aspects of disadvantage faced by older people. This included a project supported by the Economic and Social Research Council’s Growing Older programme which addressed issues relating to social exclusion and quality of life of older people living in some of England's most deprived urban neighbourhoods. Arising from this were a range of policy-related projects for such organisations at the Social Exclusion Unit, the Commission for Rural Communities, and Help the Aged. He continues to be involved in a major study of older people’s participation in Manchester (supported by the UK research councils’ New Dynamics of Ageing programme), and a longitudinal study of ageing in a purpose-built retirement community (supported by Anchor Trust). His most recent book is Critical Perspectives on Ageing Societies (co-edited with Miriam Bernard; Policy Press, 2007).

Thomas Scharf