Chapter 12 aging and inequality
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Chapter 12: Aging and Inequality. The Social Significance of Age. How old are you? The continuum of age shapes our attitudes and conceptions about how individuals of that age should act “Act your age” Refers to the chronological age , or their age based on from when they were born

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Chapter 12: Aging and Inequality

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Chapter 12 aging and inequality

Chapter 12: Aging and Inequality


The social significance of age

The Social Significance of Age

  • How old are you?

    • The continuum of age shapes our attitudes and conceptions about how individuals of that age should act

  • “Act your age”

    • Refers to the chronological age, or their age based on from when they were born

    • “The graying of America”

      • Average age of populace is increasing due to baby boomers, increased life expectancy, and decreased birth rates

  • “Act as you feel”

    • The observable attributes such as appearance, coordination, mental capacity, etc. that are used to assign people to age categories


Trends in aging

Trends in Aging

  • Life expectancy

    • The average number of years that a group of people born in the same year, are expected to live

  • Cohort

    • A group of people born within a specified period of time

      • Depression-era babies, Baby-boomers, etc.

  • Gerontology

    • The study of aging and older people


Age and the life course

Age and the Life Course

  • Age stratification

    • The inequalities, differences, segregation, or conflict between age groups

    • The lines between age groups are arbitrary and there are many gray areas, but typically there is an expectation for the individuals of certain age groups

      • Such as dependency and carefree attitudes in childhood, moodiness and rebellion in adolescence, and social placement and familial life in young to middle adulthood


Age stratification in our society

  • Infancy and Childhood

    • Carefree and jovial for many; but, it can be a time of powerlessness and vulnerability for others

      • One often experiences most of their socialization and dispositions in this stage

  • Adolescence

    • Did not exist (as a category) before the twentieth century; brought on by societal need for specialized, educated individuals

      • Typically considered the “scapegoat” generation

  • Young Adulthood

    • Often expected to get married and have a job

      • Many are viewed negatively if they do not accomplish these things by middle adulthood

  • Middle Adulthood

    • Onset of senescence, or primary aging, often seen as the mid-life crisis. Secondary aging are effects that are brought on as a result of the choices the person makes as far as physical activity and drinking, for example

      • Often have the highest levels of prestige, and income

  • Late Adulthood

    • Retirement, physical attributes are as important as physical age in stratification

    • Contrary to stereotypes, only about 5 percent of the elderly live in nursing homes, 10 percent have trouble walking, and 30 percent have trouble hearing

As the life expectancy and longevity of people increases, there will likely be another group added for individuals who are in the 90 and higher ages

Age Stratification in Our Society


Ageism and age stereotypes

Ageism and Age Stereotypes

  • Ageism

    • Prejudice and discrimination against people on the basis of age, particularly against older persons

      • Notions like: unattractive, unintelligent, asexual, and unemployable

    • A naturalistic experiment conducted showed that many individuals enforce such stereotypes, in this case the views towards the elderly

      • See “Old Pat Moore” on page 399

    • The study showed that the stereotypes were reciprocating, in other words the individual being judged felt as though they were conforming to those roles


Age gender race and inequality

Age, Gender, Race, and Inequality

  • Age, gender, race and poverty are often intertwined

  • Entitlements

    • Certain benefits, or payments,

      paid by the government

      • Such as Social Security, SSI, Medicare,

        Medicaid, and pension

  • Elder Abuse

    • The physical abuse, psychological abuse, medical abuse (or neglect), or the financial exploitation of people age 65 and/or older

      • The National Center on Elder Abuse reported that roughly 1.6 million older people are abused in some way in the U.S.


Aging the sociological perspectives

Aging: The Sociological Perspectives


Death and dying

Death and Dying

  • Hospice:an organization that provides a homelike

    facility or home-based care for people who are terminally ill

  • Because of advances in technology, death in today’s culture is primarily associated with the elderly (often in institutionalized settings)

    • There currently are three (popularly) known frameworks for how people cope with the process of dying


References and acknowledgements

References and Acknowledgements

Sociology In Our Times (Seventh Edition)

By: Diana Kendall

Notes incorporated

By: James V. Thomas, NIU Professor (Emeritus)

Formatted By: Jacob R. Kalnins, NIU student

Pictures Incorporated

Clip Art (PowerPoint: 2007)

Google Images: Sociology In Our Times


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