Joan Harbison

Joan Harbison
Adjunct Professor


Joan Harbison’s research interests encompass the relationships between constructions of aging and older people’s rights, autonomy, and inclusion in society, from the perspective of critical inquiry. These interests have emerged from ongoing research on the provision of assistance to mistreated older people with her interdisciplinary team from social work, law, and sociology from Dalhousie and Saint Mary’s Universities in Halifax, Canada. Dr. Harbison is also a member of an interdisciplinary team of researchers from Finland, Norway, Sweden and Russia investigating elderly exclusion in Nordic communities. 

She holds a Ph.D. from the University of Toronto and received her undergraduate and graduate education from the University of Dublin and the University of Edinburgh respectively. She is currently an Adjunct Professor in the School of Social Work and in the Faculty of Graduate Studies at Dalhousie University. Selected recent work includes: 

  • Harbison, J., Coughlan, S., Karabanow, J., VanderPlaat, M., Wildeman, S. and Wexler, E. (2016). Contesting Elder Abuse and Neglect: Ageism, Risk and the Rhetoric of Rights in the Mistreatment of Older People. Vancouver, BC: University of British Columbia Press.

  • Harbison, J. (2016). How ageism undermines older people’s human rights and social inclusion: revisiting advocacy, agency and need in later life. In P. Naskali, M. Seppänen, and S. Begum (Eds.) Aging, Wellbeing and Climate Change in the Arctic, pp. 11-29. London: Routledge/Earthscan.

  • Harbison, J. (2016). Older people, crime, and state intervention. In B. Perry (Ed.) (2nd Ed.) Diversity Crime and Justice in Canada, Oxford University Press.

  • Harbison, J., Coughlan, S., Beaulieu, M., Karabanow, J., VanderPlaat, M., Wildeman, S. Wexler, E. (2012). “Understanding ‘elder abuse and neglect’: A critique of assumptions underpinning responses to the mistreatment and neglect of older people”. Journal of Elder Abuse and Neglect, 24(2), pp. 88-103. 

  • Harbison, J., McKinley, P., and Pettipas, D. (2012). Older people are subjects not objects: Reconsidering theory and practice in situations of “elder abuse”. In Ramona Alaggia and Cathy Vine (Eds.) ( 2nd Ed.) Cruel but not unusual: Violence in Canadian families, pp. 521-555). Waterloo: Wilfrid Laurier Press.

  • McDonald, L., Beaulieu, M., Harbison, J., Hirst, S., Lowenstein, A., Podnieks, E., Wahl, J. (2012). Institutional abuse of older adults: What we know and what we need to know. Journal of Elder Abuse and Neglect, 24(2), pp. 138-160.

  • Harbison, J. (2008) Stoic heroines or collaborators: Ageism, feminism and abused older women. Journal of Social Work Practice, 22(2), pp. 221-234.