The opening paper by Diane Gibson discusses the concept of dependency and the different ways it is applied. Anne Edwards looks at the social construction of the category 'youth', examining the social status and other circumstances which impinge on their dependence and independence. Bruce Bradbury deals specifically with the ways in which the social security and taxation systems treat the relationships of dependency and interdependency within the family unit in a society which has changing norms about labour force participation, the concept of 'dependent spouse' and child care arrangements. Sol Encel discusses age dependency, the notion of the age dependency ratio and aspects of the treatment of age in the media. Cherry Russell is also concerned with the 'construction' of dependency for older people and examines some research which has taken place in the area. In the final overview paper, Sheila Shaver reviews the five papers and locates the concept of dependency in a context of individuation and individualism within the welfare state.