Relationship of identity to AGE


Relationship of identity to AGE

Outline, explain, analyse and evaluate how an individual’s sense of self and identity is shaped by AGE

How significant is AGE in influencing and determining IDENTITY?

Sociologists are interested in –

The SIGNIFICANCE of AGE in Western societies

The connection between AGE and STATUS / LEGAL RIGHTS

How the term GENERATION fits into a discussion on AGE/IDENTITY

ROLES and NORMS in relation to AGE

LIFE COURSE – life as a biological and cultural journey? A universal phenomenon?

Sociologists discuss AGE in relation to

BIOLOGY – an obvious factor that influences the ways society divides people by AGE i.e. babies / the very old – similar physical/psychological characteristics

HOWEVER – UK (most societies, in fact) contain enough CULTURAL differences and enough SUBCULTURE groups to suggest that BIOLOGY alone cannot be the most significant factor in how we view age and identity.

Ideas of ‘life cycle’ have been replaced by ideas of LIFE COURSE which accepts life / ageing / identity are much less predictable and much more negotiable

We discussed AGE and identity in relation to

The SIGNIFICANCE of AGE in Western societies

The connection between AGE and STATUS / LEGAL RIGHTS

How the term GENERATION fits into a discussion on AGE/IDENTITY

ROLES and NORMS in relation to AGE

Meaning of the term LIFE COURSE – life as a biological and cultural journey? A universal phenomenon?

Social and Cultural CONSTRUCTIONS of AGE

Traditional / pre-industrial societies

Less awareness of age / birthday

Three broad stages of age

1.Children

2.Adults

3.Elders

Modern industrial societies

Births are registered

Birthdays are ‘celebrated’ •

Bradley (1996) identifies FIVE generational age groups who share similar experiences that shape their identity –

1.Childhood

note the significance of LAWS and the role of the STATE (government). Include the different views of sociologists on the nature of childhood as a social construct.

2.Adolescence / youth

it’s important to note how the ‘state’ of adolescence/youth has changed over time: ask your parents – do they think they experienced youth in the same way that you are?  You could then repeat the question to your grandparents – you will get some interesting answers . . . You MUST note the importance of youth culture. You must include notes on moral panics and folk devils (include the sociologists) – this will lead you into notes on the importance of ‘generation gaps’ and youth subcultures

3.Young adulthood

note how this generation fits into the life course and note the key sociologists who have observed this under-researched group.

4.Mid-life

what are the key indicators of being ‘mid-life’?

5.Old age

possibly the most researched generation. Note legal/status issues and how sociologists have observed and commented on the impact of increasing life-expectancy. You may wish to add information from the sections on age and discrimination, ageism and the mass media

Age and Discrimiation

Key term – ‘AGEISM’: defined by Johnson and Bytheway as the ‘offensive exercise of power through reference to old age’.

Ageism is –

1.INSTITUTIONALISED – it’s embedded in the way society see the old

2.STEREOTYPED PREJUDICES – the assumptions we make about the ability/fitness/competency of the elderly

3.WELL-MEANING – wrong/stereotyped assumptions that the old can’t really take care of themselves

Pilcher – focus on the negative language used to describe the elderly

Bradley – elderly and employment / equality legislation

Ginn and Aber – the cost of ageing, the ‘burden’ on the taxpayer (Marxist)

Phillipson – similar to Ginn and Aber: the ‘cost’ of the elderly (Marxist)

Age and the Media

Ageism – reflected in mass media representations of youth / old age

Advertising – focus on youth/beauty and ‘anti-ageing’

Sontag (sociologist) – the double standard of ageing: men/women

Milner, Norman and Milner – elderly are stereotyped in adverts UNLESS the product is aimed at them – when the images are more positive

De-standardisation of the LIFE COURSE

PEOPLE ARE LIVING LONGER – generational gaps are ‘stretched’

It is now possible to act in ways that may not always have been considered ‘appropriate’ for a particular age group – diversity/choice

Bruckner and Mayer – the life course is much less predictable, we can choose to do things in old age that may seem ‘inappropriate’ to some

Featherstone – researched media/goods aimed specifically at the old

All these views – diversity/choice – are broadly post-modern

Green – agrees with Bruckner and Mayer (to an extent) but thinks the biological constraints of age cannot always be overcome

Marxists think that active/diverse old age may only be accessed by the wealthy old – perhaps those who never had children and who have good pensions

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