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SOC246 Lecture 2

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University of Toronto St. George
Markus Schafer

SOC246 Lecture 2 – September 18, 2012 Reading - There are unique possibilities for aging, there are not just down sides but there are positives – we should look at the good things about aging Key Theories and Concepts in the Sociology of Aging - How are these concepts linked together? - Theories help us ask relevant questions and make social predictions - Two main questions/problems that began at the beginning of sociology: o Integration – how is it that in society that people are integrated in the social world  Emile Durkheim studying suicides: how is it that people remain integrated in society? What are the implications of someone that is not integrated?  Do people remain integrated in society as they age?  The concept of a social role  Question: what do people between the ages of 5-18 do for most of their waking hours, Monday through Friday? School o Why? Anticipatory socialization, preparing for society  But are there any mechanisms in society that help us leave social roles  Disengagement Theory: an “inevitable and mutual withdrawal” from social roles  Effectively, this reduces interaction between the aging individual and others in society  Disengagement assumed to be satisfying to the individual o Less pressure to fulfill particular roles o More room to deviate  Disengagement is also assumed to be functional for society o Have new workers come in and take those roles  Disengagement theory has been widely criticized o Are people who don’t disengage “unsuccessful dis-engagers”? o Disengagement can take multiple forms  Not physically enacting a social role – retiring  Psychological disengagement – going to work but not mentally engaged o What about people who disengage but don’t want to?  Activity Theory: continuing social interaction and maintaining social roles is necessary to maintain positive self-concept and life satisfication  The more intense the activity it will give you more social roles which then builds positive self-concept which gives you more life satisfaction  The activity theory is a response to Disengagement Theory  Also has been widely criticized o Very narrow focus on individual adaptation – broader social conditions are neglected o The meaning people attach to activity is important  May not be enjoyable to some people so the meaning that people have to the activity is important o Social and psychological needs may not be completely stable across adulthood  Needs may change over time o Is the causal logic of the theory correct?  Is
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