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Soc102 Lec 5

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University of Toronto St. George
Lorne Tepperman

Sociology Lecture 5:Age and Exclusion Structured Expansion: Economic Growth -everyone is earning money -people don't question job inequality as much -period we are in now -Economic Stagnation: lack of new jobs/ growth -someone benefits at another's expense -if the older stay in jobs, prevent younger from advancing -Question: which group should get the job? How age inequality is different • Unlike racial groups, which may have permanent distinguishing physical features -features will never change • Unlike ethnic groups, which may have permanent distinguishing cultural features -origins are fixed • Unlike gender groups, which may have permanent distinguishing physiological features -people can change their gender, but physiological diff. are distinct -people can't constantly alternate between genders • Unlike classes, which may have relatively permanent distinguishing economic features… -hard to move up, likely to stay where you were born -NO permanent distinguishing features – everyone starts young and becomes old -Age constantly changes as long as you live -the group you are classified in will change; moves from one group to next -constantly have to readjust to new group -no fixed identity -have to learn how to perform age -learn the associated norms -definitions of these groups change overtime as well -hard to distinguish between young and old -young eventually become old in a gradient -Kathy Charmaz: author of Good Days, Bad Days -physical disability undermines our ability to: i) make plans and carry them out ii) sense of personal future iii) sense of self as a unique individual -overall affects our ability to play a chosen role in society -affects who we want to be -true for all disadvantaged age groups: old, adolescent, twenty-something's etc. Implications • performance of age inequality requires a lot of cultural socialization into: • myths about youth • myths about old age • we have to constantly resocialize ourselves because we keep changing groups • Self-awareness of age differences: age consciousness – will be hard to establish and maintain -often a lot of blurring occurs: don't feel our age or don't buy into the norms The underlying age norms -There is a biological component to age -how long you've lived from birth -wear and tear • Sociologists are concerned with age norms: what makes it a social construct • All societies have age norms • judge us through these norms • Age-norms define the social status, permitted roles, and activities of people belonging to them -these norms vary between societies -have different "age sets" or categories -norms attach to them • Transitions from one age-set to the next are often major social events • rites of passage mark the change of social status and role. • some societies have rituals when passing onto next group Age stratification • Age stratification: a system of inequalities linked to age often associated with age-sets -see which age set holds power in society • Age stratification theory : concerned with how societies experiences aging • ex: how the economy is affected by population aging • -our society is much more youth friendly • -is also getting older due to low birth rates • -maintain population via migration • -lower social status/value for the old Age is a social category • Age: cultural category - meaning varies historically and cross-culturally -there are differences in whether aging and old age are viewed positively or negatively -our society places high value on youth -age is considered bad • Social distance often exists between age groups similarly between ethnic and racial groups -our society tends to have distance between young and old -due to unwarranted myths and unequal valuing Competing narratives in a conflict of generations -For middle-aged people, older age implies • Accomplishment • Authority • Blame for current problems • Praise for current solutions • Investment in the past • Outdated-ness -For middle-aged people, younger age implies • Promise • Absence of authority • Innocence of current problems • Disconnection from current solutions • Investment in the future • Untested-ness Historically, age and seniority were related • Most social advancement was by seniority • -due to many people not living past 60 • -those who survived therefore earned respect and authority -Rank, wealth was correlated with age • Older people and younger people had opposed social interests • -opportunities of the young depended on the old • -once old dies, young takes over • Intergenerational conflicts resulted -ex: Prince Charles, no structural expansion There was the typical or normal life cycle in 1914, according to Dennis Hogan -In classical sociological theory, transition to adulthood had 5 milestones • Complete your education • Get hired into a steady job • Get married • Move out of the parental home • Then, produce and parent children -these criteria are clear and concrete -particularly universal for males In 2014, this sequence is not so typical or “normal” • The typicality /normality of the sequence is changing -no correlation between age and statue/stage of life • In 2014, more people do this out of sequence • E.g., marriage while in college -more women earning education • E.g., parenting before marriage -birth control • What is the significance of this fact? • For the individual • For society? Therefore, age doesn't predict as well today as it did in 1914 • Compared with 1914, in 2014 age doesn't predict activities or statuses – e.g.: • Studenthood • Employment • Marriage • Parenthood • Implication: more individualized lives The greater individualization of women’s lives • Especially, women’s lives contain more because of parental responsibilities … -decisions usually base on children -complicated relationship between age and status • Varied statuses • Fluid movements • Idiosyncratic combinations • This individualization • Reduces women’s solidarity • Complicates female identity Effects on social interaction -The new, individualized life patterns • Mean that “being young” and “being old” no longer have a predictable meaning • Confuse scripts for: • Dating relations • Family relations Work relations The invention of “emerging adults” -Coined in study by Jeffrey Jensen Arnett (2000) as a developmental stage (psychology term) -true in that the brain doesn't stop developing until age 25 -interacted with his subjects in a natural environment -noticed a disconnect between what classical age theories say and what he saw • Today, young adults go through a complex developmental sequence of their own • Different from their parents • Even different from their older siblings • Arnett calls these twenty-somethings emerging adults. • Hit home for people in these age brackets -especially those living with parents with PhD -even the parents because they can seem to make sense of their children's lives -believe they are on the verge of failure Young adulthood today is not as simple or predictable as that • something special about the “twenties” -makes them different from people in their thirties and early forties. -characterized by 3 unique conditions -social marginality -behavioural irresponsibility -economic dependence -extension of dependency extends "childhood" • twenty-something experience today is a period of instability, exploration, and self- analysis -it is not because the brains of 20s are different then in the past -this development rather better suits the brain development of a human -Previously associated culturally with adolescence -found these people wanted to take their time -try out different relationships before settling down -age of 30 was symbolic to them -consider it when real life starts -i.e 30 is now the new 20 -they embrace change and new opportunities, reject commitment -want to be sure the path they are taking will be satisfying -Parents on the other hand are ambivalent about the open-ended flexible approaches -because these emerging adults are still financially supported by them -parents may no longer be able to afford it -however, they feel reassured knowing this is the norm today -Arnett thinks this is wise -people use to look forward to adulthood and the independence -however, many were not ready in their 20s -today, emerging adults have all these benefits before they become indep. - emerging adulthood created by cultural and economic conditions -push for more education, globalization of manufacturing jobs -destigmatization of premarital sex and cohabitation Young adulthood is more complicated today • Emerging adulthood represents another period in the continually lengthening life course -it is a universal phase (sociological term) -created by social context -an extension and refinement of an age category -used to be called young adulthood. ex: 30yr today has completed the same number of milestones as 25yr in 70s • Even the ordering of adult life events is increasingly unpredictable • Old theory by Erik Erikson: 50 yr old 8 stage Theory -divides adulthood into 3 stages -young (20-45) -middle (45-65) -late (65 +) -forArnett, this young period was too broad The growing period of youth dependency -Kenneth Keniston also focused on youth development -1965 -found his participants were uncommitted -were ambivalent, unsure, even aimless and unable to settle down -saw some alienation as a result of capitalism and military-industrial complex -however, mainly connected this to childhood experience • period of youthful dependency is growing all the time - this is bound to extend the length and depth of youthful anxiety. • This reminds us that age categories are socially constructed -just as those surrounding gender, race, and ethnicity are. -Therefore, inequalities based on age are also socially constructed -inequalities extend to full exclusion from membership in society ex: require people to complete lengthy education before they are economically viable -fewer opportunities for older people The “Invention” of Childhood • All age groups are social constructions. -age boundaries are imprecise and flexible -often changed due to medical or scientific discovery -groupings reflect demands of social institutions like schools and workplaces -these requirements also vary, varying our notions about age with it -e.g., childhood • merely a social marker -designating the number of years since a person was born. • age is also a performance -perform age like we do gender on continual basis -without performance, age has no intrinsic meaning • age-related myths and stereotypes easily arise. • ex: creation of the idea of childhood • -didn't use to think of childhood the same as today • -use to consider children as miniature versions of parents in middle ages • -dressed like parents and did miniature version of work • -no refined sense between childhood and adulthood • -grew up and start working like adult Yet, we learn sentimental images of childhood: when did this begin? • How have adults imagined childhood, and thus, molded their children? • -didn't get clear picture of what childhood was until late 18th century • Motivated the work of French historian PhilippeAries -author of a classic book on childhood, translated as Centuries of Childhood. • Aries proposes that the notion of childhood was invented at a particular time and reasons in European history The history of schooling = the history of “childhood” • Institutions like schools played a large role in shaping our ideas about age -these ideas changed as these institutions evolve. • As education became more common, schoolchildren—and especially those who were privileged—became objects of conspicuous consumption - to be treasured, protected, and enriched. -before 16th century, few Euro children went to formal school -were taught in one class together regardless of age -age was unimportant in pre-industrial times -invention of age-based segregation and formal schooling changed adult views of children -people in higher echelon society wanted high education attainment -created childhood to separate from adults -as education reached middle class, so did concept of childhood -industrialization of work had huge influence on schooling -rise of compulsory education in 19th century -began to see learning as children's developmental duty -new legislations in child protection mandated age limit before they can work -universal mandate on education shaped idea of universal childhood -childhood became a distinct lifestage away from adulthood -defined as period of innocence, economic uselessness separating adulthood -this was a social decision bas on values and beliefs -but really was education that started it. -expect that they will eventually be useful to society and family -an investment The prolonging of dependency, due to schooling • The industrialization of work had a deep, unexpected effect on schooling. • Then, the growth of schooling had a deep effect on people’s conception of childhood. • Increasingly, children were segregated from adult soc
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