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Health and Aging 1BB3 LECTURE 2.docx

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McMaster University
Health, Aging and Society
Anju Joshi

Health and Aging 1BB3 September 17, 2012 Why is Theory Important - Set of propositions - Tools of trade - Guide research and interpret results - Provide framework for explaining findings - Help us to understand/predict Levels of Theory - Micro: Individual Social Interaction - Macro: Social Structures and Processes - Theoretical Perspectives: Interpretive, Functionalist, Conflict - Interpretive – tends to be micro level theories - Functionalist – macro level theories (or bridges micro and macro) - Conflict – tends to be macro level - Theories – very specific explanations, what we test. Interpretive - Focus is on individuals and how they create meaning through social interaction - Example of Theories that take the Interpretive perspective: Social exchange (at any particular time we interact with someone else, the meaning we gain from that exchange of communication) - Strengths: people play vital role in creating social world, social construction of reality, meanings of age and of aging experiences - Limitations: only one point of view of social life, little focus on social structures and social processes (we wouldn’t understand the broader structures that influence the persons experience), little focus on power or conflict (intergenerational issues) Social Exchange - At the individual and society level, social interaction is viewed as a process in which we seek to maximize the rewards and reduce costs Functionalist - Focus is on structures of society and how parts function to keep society in balance - Examples of Theories that take the functionalist perspective: o Disengagement o Activity o Continuity o Structural Functionalism o Age Stratification o Modernization o Life Course Perspective Disengagement – aging involves an inevitable withdrawal from social roles and relationships. It is seen to benefit both the individual and society. Weaknesses of the Disengagement Theory - Supports the stereotype of old age as a time of weakness and decline - Assumes that older
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