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SOC246H1 (20)
Chapter 5

Chapter 5

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University of Toronto St. George
William Magee

Week 7: February 28 HISTORICAL & CULTURAL PERSPECTIVES Chapter 5 Historical Perspectives on Aging INTRODUCTION There was a golden age of aging o The extended family household, which was the site of production and education, was dominated by older family members o The skills were passed from the older to the younger generation o Because few people were literate, community traditions were orally transmitted by the elderly o The position of the aged in society: veneration Then a revolutionary process: modernization o Modernization Theory As urbanization drew younger people to the cities, the extended family household was destroyed As industrialization moved from the household to the factory, parents lost the ability to teach their skills to their children As mass education increased rates of literacy, the aged were no longer the repositories of wisdom The veneration of the aged was replaced by a cult of youth Isolated from their families and pushed out of the labor force, the aged were forced to spend their final days in institutions WERE THE AGED VENERATED IN PREINDUSTRIAL SOCIETY? Veneration in Non-Western Cultures www.notesolution.com In non-Western cultures the elderly are often accorded great respect and esteem o E.g. Traditional Chinese culturea high value on old age The veneration of the old is linked to Confucian values: The parent should treat the child with nurturance, and the child should treat the parent with absolute obedience Conventional gestures such as speaking politely deferring in conversation to those older than oneself, and never ridiculing or insulting the aged Modernization theorists ask whether practices common in traditional non- Western cultures were ever found in Western societies in the preindustrial past and, if so, whether modernization and industrialization destroyed the tradition of veneration for the elderly o Western history indicates that people have always negative views of the aged E.g. In his Rhetoric, Aristotle accused the aged of being selfish and fearful Most historians believe that the elderly were venerated in the colonial period of American history Veneration of the Aged in Colonial Times, 1620-1770 Puritans o Wanted to abolish the church hierarchy and purify it from corrupt influences o They wanted a church free from political interference www.notesolution.com
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