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Ferraro and Shippee; Aging and Cumulative Inequality.docx

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Sociology 3308F/G
Kim Shuey

Ferrarro and Shipee; "Aging and Cumulative Inequality: How Does Inequality Get Under The Skin?" Monday, January 20, 2014 6:46 PM • Purpose: article draws from cumulative disadvantage and life course theories to develop a enw theory for the social scientific study of againg • Design and methods; five axioms of cumulative inequality (CI) are look at to see how life course trajectories are affected by accumulated inequalities • Concept of accumulation has long interested gerontologists • How the aging process is changed by accumulation of damage to the body • As well as cumulative disadvantage, financial accumulation, stress accumulation • Much interest has been shown in Dannefer's cumulative Advantage/Disadvantage (CAD) theory • Dannefer sought to analyze social dynamics that operate on populations • More attention needed to age stratification, how macrostructural forces affect aging • Studying accumulation of inequality might help to understand rerlationships between individuals and their environments • Disadvantages accumulates over the life courses, differentiating cohorts over time • Not exclusively studying old people • Cumulative Inequality (CI) theory incorporates macro and micro sociological content • Cit specifies that social systems generate inequality • Manifests over life course, affects personal trajectories by accumulation of risk, resources, perceived trajectories, and human agency • Identify and articulate five axioms of Cit, and how CIT is different from CAD • Seek to incorporate sociological and biological forces of aging • Social forces in everyday life can lead to psychological and biological changes in the body • Hope to illustrate how CI leads to biologic changes associated with aging Axioms of CI Theory 1. Social systems generate inequality, which is manisfested over the life course through demographic and developmental processes • Social structures shape human behaviour and interpersonal relations • Social systems seen as central to generation of inequality • Inequality accumulates over the life course • Childhood conditions important to explaining addult functioning and well-being • How early life events shape later life outcomes • Family lineage (genetic transmission, shared living environment) critical 1. Disadvantaga increases exposure to risk, but advantage increases exposure to opportunity • Disadvantage should be considered as an exposure to risk • Advantage should be considered as exposure to opportunity • CIT holds that there are multiple axes upon which inequality develops • Need to pay attention to magnitude, onset, and duration of exposure to advantage and disadvantage • Magnitude; extent or dose of an advantage or disadvantage • Onset; when the exposure began • Duration; length of time that an individual experiences the condition 1. Life course trajectories are shaped by the accumulation of risk, available resources, and human agency • Accumulation of risks and opportunities is central to CI theory, but doesn’t mean an individuals is determined early on • Life trajectories can change as can access to opportunities or exposure to risk • How are trajectories modified? • Resource mobilization and human agency play critical roles in how trajectories are shaped • Life course perspective gives priority to timing in one's life • Important how a person responds to risk or opportunity 1. Perception of life trajectories influences subsequent trajectories • People have a sense of how they are doing, and this sense influences their actions • Draws from symbolic interactionism and social comparison theories • Subjective views of position and resource may in some cases be more important that actuality in shaping trajectories • People view and evaluate their trajectories in comparison to others • People select activities to optimize based on these evaluations • When people notice they are bad at something they either try to improve at it or ignore it all together • Favorable sentiments about behing ahead of one's peers may affect trajectory • Unfavorable sentiments, in contrast can have the opposite affect 1. Cumulative inequality may lead to premature mortality, therefore nonrandom selection may give the appearance of decreasing inequality in later life • Selection processes are central to the study • If based on mortality, removal of one unhealthy subject may appeear to lessen inequality by raising the means • Gerontologists should give explicit attention to nonrandom selection in their studies for this reason • Gerontologists should not study only old people • Table summarizes 5 axioms of Cumulative Inequality theory Interdisciniplary Linkages f
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