Chapter 3 Book Notes

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University of Toronto Scarborough
Health Studies
Ingrid L.Stefanovic

Health, Illness, and Optimal Aging- Biological and Psychological Perspectives Chapter 3: Theories of Aging - Aging: gaining wrinkles, greying of hair, stiffing of joints, getting stronger o Age is also social construct and cultural contact not just measurement Theory - In Gerontology o Can be thought of as a set of lenses for viewing actions n interactions o To help us make sense of what we observe o Can be used to help a researcher choose his or her research methods, questions, and the sample to focus o To construct explicit explanations that account for empirical feelings - Theory in Gerontology: Early gerontologists looked for conceptual frameworks that might explain human aging by looking at popular and ancient models - In gerontology, no one theory can explain all the facts abt aging - Researchers often use a combo of theoretical perspectives to gain a fuller understanding of their research topic Theory vs. Other aspects of knowledge development 1. Statements describing regularities detected in the process of systematic observations 2. Prototypical models r formed which attempts to depict how empirical generalizations r related to each other 3. Empirical generalizations n models r accumulated n use to form theories Two Levels of Theory Health, Illness, and Optimal Aging- Biological and Psychological Perspectives - Micro-level theories = focus on individuals o Explain phenomenon such as relations b/w adult children n parents, changes memory in age, affect of negative impact on adult age study at the individual level (ex: survey data from 1000s of ppl but we r looking at a level of individual issue) - Macro-level theories = examine social structures o Focus on economic conditions n social policies ex- the fact of industrialization on the status of older adults, or impact of public pensions phenomena that affects @ the societal level (impact of exercise: depends on DNA) Anthropology - The study of human kind from the beginnings to the present - Biological, archaeological, linguistic anthropological, social - Anthropology seeks to understand human existence in geographic space and evolutionary time - Comparisons across time and cultures are central to the discipline - Age as a cultural construct o The idea that the characteristics that ppl attribute to social categories (gender, death, illness) r culturally defined they r not fixed, they can be dynamic Methods - Ethnography o Fieldwork and participant observation - Contributed to findings such as: o The killing of frail elderly was not rare (Simmons 1945) o Elders provided education by sharing knowledge in the Kalahari Desert in the absence of formal teachers and schools (Shostak 1981) Women were able to learn n educate themselves by learning from elders Health, Illness, and Optimal Aging- Biological and Psychological Perspectives Anthropological Perspectives on Aging - Early theoretical formulations o linked the marginalization of older ppl to modernization - More current frameworks are informed by o Contexts in which older adults live o Special populations o Complexity n heterogeneity of difference experiences(differences within ppl) o Cultural context how things differ? (geography) Age versus Aging - Theories abt age explain cultural n social phenomena age is used in negotiation of social life - Theories abt aging r theories abt living, the changes experienced during the life course, n the interdependencies throughout life among different generations Cultural Conceptions of Time and Age - Relative time- things, events, are ordered in time, something happens either before or after something else, a person is either younger or older than someone else, temporal order, sequence, but we dont know how much older or younger or how much time passed - Absolute time - we can measure, measurement is the imposition of culture on natural regularities that are general for regular. Ex. Day is 24 hours long only 3 days out of the year. Having 24 time zones worldwide is not a feature of the rotation of the earth, temporal order has been created, and with enough technology we can measure the age of anything, calendars and clocks are cultural inventions Relative Age Absolute Age Informal Knowledge of Age Age-ambiguous Age-aware Formal Knowledge of Age Age-forced contexts Age-explicit Health, Illness, and Optimal Aging- Biological and Psychological Perspectives - These groups r different ways of thinking abt time from different societies or different types of culture - Age-ambiguous cultures: no way to tell how old u r, they often use the moon for dating n time, or the gap b/w siblings - Age-aware: u can answer how old one is, calendars r used - Age-explicit: u can answer how old a person is with a gr8 deal of precision, n societies r keeping a record of how old the citizens r - Age-forced contexts: present in cultures or societies that formerly age-ambiguous but were made to take on specific age, take on certain ages by the colonizers...they can tell u how old u r, but not exactly rite cuz ppl help them determine ur age but no records of wen u were born Culture and Age Structuring - Concepts to understand experience of aging - Stratification and cohorts - Culture gives meaning to time and age o How to use time and manipulate age - People make decisions of who to work for - Organizations are formed o Religious - Individuals are shaped by these contexts as they age - How a society organizes the interdependency between people of the same and different ages is the structuring of the life course as individuals pass through that society from birth to death Problems of Aging - Across time and cultures, for most of humanities existence old age has not been a society wide problem - Since humans have been able to sustain long lives physically and culturally, old age has had its problems
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