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Lecture5 part 2.pdf

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Lorne Tepperman

Lecture 5- Aging & age inequalities • How age inequality is different • How population age is measured ○ Unlike racial groups -> physical features ○ Influenced by: ○ Unlike ethnic groups -> cultural features i. Fertility ○ Unlike gender groups -> physiological features ii. Mortality ○ Unlike classes -> economic features iii. Immigration ▪ Age groups have NO permanent distinguishing features – everyone starts • Canada's populations is aging more quickly than many other countries young and becomes old • Ways which aging & age group change => changes in demography & society ▪ Age differentiation requires a lot of cultural socialization into: • Concerns of aging society □ myths about youth • How the idea of age & aging changed over time □ myths about old age • Types of challenges different subgroups will face as they grow older ▪ Self-awareness of age differences – age consciousness – will be hard to establish and maintain • Extended lifespan- enough time now for people to lead serveral lives ▪ Age-based strategies of resistance will be hard to establish and maintain • New opportunity holds great importance for social organization • Age & aging hold most interest for older people (aged the most) • The underlying age norms • Our society has recently aged rapidly & will continue ○ Sociologists are concerned with age norms (age-sets) • Great popular interest in study of young people -> are & will increasingly important as consumers ▪ All societies have age norms & citizens ○ Age-sets define the social status, permitted roles, and activities of people • Aging is important - takes place within historical context belonging to them • But something never change (fights with parents, feeling insecure about future, wanting to change ○ Transitions from one age-set to the next are often major social events change the world) ▪ rites of passage mark the change of social status and role. • Different generations grow up in different times -> finding agreement bw generations is a challenge • Age stratification- system of inequalities linked to ageoften associated with age-sets • Cultural meanings are specific to times & places -> make it more difficult for different generations ○ Age stratificationtheory is also concerned with how societies experience aging to understand one another ○ (how the economy is affected by population aging ) • Each age group has own concerns & worries: ○ Middle-aged concentrating on being good parents • Age is a social category ○ Elderly worried about staying healthy ○ its meaning varies historically and cross-culturally ○ Young look forward v.s. elders look backward to better days ○ there are differences in whether aging and old age are viewed positively or • Age differences concern us less as we grow older (dating, marriage) negatively • Laws tries to protect people thought to be vulnerable (young & elderly) - but bw less 'vulnerable' ○ Social distance often exists between age groups, just as it does between ethnic age (20-70) less social protection is needed and racial groups • Law has no upper-age limit for marriage, only a age floor • 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 • How different it was when old people ruled society ○ Consider the rural Irish community studied by Arensberg and Kimball ○ 1-2 centuries ago, farm children were ruled by their parents, remaining bboys` and bgirls ` until marriage. ○ In these communities, marriage was not a love match: it was largely a property transfer. ○ Only the oldest son inherited property ○ No wonder millions of young people left Ireland in the 19th century ○ 1/3 emigrated by the 1920s ○ Emigration also enabled the traditional (elder-dominated) family structure to survive briefly into the twentieth century ○ The old people blive long because they have much to live for. They have power. • The Asian generational pattern was similar, until recently In Confucian thinking, the elders ruled society through filial piety in five key relationships: ○ Ruled to ruler ○ Son to father ○ Wife to husband ○ Younger brother to elder ○ Friend to Friend However, in China as in Ireland and Quebec (i.e., Hughes), this system of age inequality started to fall apart with industrialism • The breakdown of kinship control ○ Industrialism always breaks down traditional kin-based institutions ○ Youth groups arise in societies where the family (or kinship unit) no longer constitutes the main unit of society – e.g., no longer controls land or work (S N Eisenstadt ) ○ Then, the individual is forced to acquire important roles and skills outside the family –  E.g., in peer groups ○ Youthful rebellion against the old ○ Totalitarian societies try to control or channel youthful frustration into formal youth movements (e.g., China’ s Cultural Revolution) ○ In liberal societies like Canada, rebellion is individualized – acted out by individuals, as individuals – often as risky behaviour • The flow of wealth shifts dramatically ○ In traditional societies , children bear the costs of their parents directly, within families (e.g., through filial piety) ○ In modern societies, older people assume the costs of their children directly, within families New Section 1 Page 1 within families ▪ The financial costs of children outweigh the benefits ▪ So they produce fewer children! • The sociology of generations ○ The social differentiation of people into distinct age categories leads to the formation of age-groupings ○ Today, people are inclined to perceive and and identify with age-related lgenerationsz ○ German sociologist Karl Mannheim was the first to make sociological theories about such generational groupings ▪ imagined communities again • Generational experience shapes worldview ○ younger generation reject the social norms of earlier generations ▪ Mannheim views different generations as lsources of opposition ○ Younger generations challenge existing societal norms and change society through lcollective generational organizationz • How generation shapes worldview Can view Generation as… . ○ A Location in Time ▪ Age-groups share the same relation to major traumatic events or catastrophes (e.g., World War 2) ○ A Resistance to Authority ▪ Age groups share an orientation or feel a kinship toward each other, based on a common relationship to authority figures in the older generation ○ An Instrument of Change ▪ Age groups sometimes act as agents of social change and foster alternatives to the status quo • Glen Elder`s life course approach ○ It is a small step to llife course approachs developed by Glen Elder
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