Social Theories of Aging

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what are social theories of aging

theories about how we incorporate older people in society

what are the three functions of theory

1. organize
2. predict
3. stimulate inquiry

three scopes of Theories

Micro theories are about the individual
Micro/Macro -how the individual fits into society
Macro theories: interested in the largest groups such as "teens" older population

Theories of power and inequality

theories about aging that understand inequality: race gender: old/young status

what is a theory

theories are broad explanations that provide structure for organizing and interpreting observable facts and their relationships to one another

what are the three functions of theory

to organize. to predict. to stimulate inquiry.

what is a micro theory

a micro theory focuses on the individual

what is a micro-macro theory

a micro-macro theory asks how and individual fits into their immediate society

what is a macro theory

macro theory focuses on the largest groups: teens, older population, women etc.

what are theories of power and inequality

power and inequality theories look at how status is influenced by race/gender and social class

name the three micro theories

disengagement
activity
continuity
(DAC)

what is structural functionalism

disengagement theory is product of structural functionalism which says that if everyone plays their part (role) then things will go smoothly

what are the assumptions and propositions of disengagement theory

assumptions are: disengagement is good-it is good for older people to 'pull back' because it is gratifying.
propositions are: normal aging involves withdrawal which is mutual/universal/inevitable/natural/irreversible

what are the criticisms and contributions of disengagement theory

disengagement is not universal; natural/biological or inevitable. Duke did study on 60+ ppl and discovered that ppl who measured highest on activity were highest on life satisfaction.
contributions were the realization that disengagement is a process that sometimes happens, but it is not inevitable. circumstances such as widow/health/relocation/poverty can cause disengagement. it is helpful in explaining the social and mental lives of some people.

what are the assumptions and propositions of activity theory

assumptions: disengagement beyond our control such as illness or poverty. activity needs are same as others and can be formal or informal or solitary. successful aging is active aging.
propositions: the greater the activity, the better we feel, the more role support the more positive self concept.

what are criticisms and contributions of activity theory

criticisms: some don't want to be active; how do we define active; how much activity; what about people who can't move.
Contributions it is not participation per se that enhances well-being but rather the socializing that accompanies engagement in an activity. what matters is having intimate relations with network of close friends and relatives.

what are the assumptions and propositions of continuity theory

assumptions: personality is continuous and plays major role, adult development is continuous process, experiences prepare us for the next stage.
propositions: attempt to preserve internal(personality)/external(activities) continuity as we age
pathological aging occurs in people who are unable to meet their needs for income/housing/healthcare

criticisms and contributions of continuity theory

continuity assumes that people we cannot adapt
feminists say it defines normal aging around male model - like income inequality- but its social structure problem

what are the micro-macro theories

subculture theory and exchange theory and social constructionism

what are the assumptions and propositions of subculture theory

assumptions: people lose status in old age and activity enhances the lives of older people
propositions: subculture develop thru commonalities (aritists) and exclusions (african americans)
older adults experience both
older adults maintain identity thru subcultures
high status is achieved thru health & leadership

what are the criticisms and contributions of subculture theory

criticisms: older adults don't gather by themselves there are many places they integrate: hiking
contributions: sometimes do form subcultures (widow group) when someone moves into adult community they may feel better because they are youngest.
when people are healthy they have higher status

what are the assumptions and propositions of exchange theory

assumptions: society is made of people pursuing goals. goals have costs and rewards. people want to maximize rewards and minimize costs.
propositions: interaction drops with age because older people have less to offer- those who have more to offer stay engaged.

what are the criticisms and contributions of exchange theory

criticisms: it ignores value of love and companionship
it overlooks exchange - social credits- over lifetime
contributions: the understanding that the poorest and sickest often cant exchange because they have less to offer and disengage.

what are the assumptions and propositions of social constructionism

assumptions: human beings create their social reality
propositions: we create reality thru shared meanings and symbols.(behavior in class)
reality can be changed including our understanding of aging and old age.

what are the criticisms and contributions of social constructionism

criticisms: ignores the structural features of society that keep us from defining reality: laws
contributions: we can redefine social constructs of aging- for example understanding Alzheimer's disease can change its meaning.

what are the macro theories of aging

modernization theory, age stratification, age integration

what are the assumptions and propositions of modernization theory

assumptions: social development and aging experiences are linked.
all societies go from pre-industrial to post industrial.
aging was revered in the past(older were wiser/more powerful)
propositions:
health technology lowers social status of older adults(pple lived longer-lost jobs- led to retirement)
economic technology lowers social status of older adults-older (adults don't have skills so lose jobs)
urbanization lowers social status- young moved out to cities (isolating older family adults)
education - Children became more educated than parents creating inverted status
*everything led to lower status for aged

what are the criticisms and contributions of modernization theory

criticisms: people rarely lived in extended families(false).
retirement has always existed (they retired when had land or wealth).
not all older people were revered, the aged poor were never revered.
older people can learn technology.
contributions:what is happening in society does affect age structure, but it doesn't always lower status.

what are the assumptions and propositions of age stratification theory

assumptions: all societies group people into social categories. social categories lead to social identities. social categories rank us. life experiences- the life we live is affected by ranking (gay or not)
propositions: social structures change over time (1986 was legal to fire someone too old).
each cohorts experience moving thru life's major transitions will differ because each has been imprinted by historical change. (the old age of boomers will slightly resemble old age of Depression generation)

criticisms and contributions of age stratification theory

criticisms: lacks inclusion - she misses other reasons for social stratification: social class, gender and race which creats inequality
contributions: created awareness about what social policies affect aging today...how the have and have not changed.

What are the assumptions and propositions of age integration theory

Assumes that there is no such thing as a completely statified society.
all socities group people into social categories and that leads to social identities and ranks us.
our life experiences are defined by ranks.

what are propositions and criticisms and contributions of age integration theory

proposes:
that when we advance in how we do things (modernize) older adults may be excluded (registration process uncc)
this creates structural lag- preventing society from being age-friendly.
criticisms:
we don't know who is making the changes.
contributions:
introduces structural lag and the idea that older adults don't get left out of everything

What are theories of power and inequality political assumptions and propositions

assumptions:
old age is socially constructed
old age is created through power struggles
society resources maintain/increase inequality on basis of class/race/or gender
propositions:
the powerful define the social structure to their benefit which leads to inequality

what are the criticisms and contributions of power & inequality theory

criticisms:
social policies have benefited older people but older people do not define policies
masses can rise up-views older people as too passive
contribution:

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