Script C H A P T E R 8 SOCIAL THEORIES OF AGING THE IMPORTANCE OF SOCIAL THEORIES OF AGING •Social Gerontological Theory Before 1961 •Rol

Script C H A P T E R 8

SOCIAL THEORIES OF AGING

THE IMPORTANCE OF SOCIAL THEORIES OF

AGING

•Social Gerontological Theory Before 1961
•Rol

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Script C H A P T E R 8

SOCIAL THEORIES OF AGING

THE IMPORTANCE OF SOCIAL THEORIES OF

AGING

•Social Gerontological Theory Before 1961
•Role Theory and Activity Theory

•The First Transformation of Theory
•Disengagement Theory

•Gerotranscendence Theory

•Continuity Theory

•Alternative Theoretical Perspectives
•Symbolic Interactionism & Subculture of

Aging, Labeling Theory, Age Stratification

Theory, Social Exchange Theory, Political

Economy of Aging, Life Course Perspective,

Life Course Social Capital

•The Second Transformation of Theory
•Phenomenology and Constructivism, Critical Theory and Feminist Perspectives

ROLE THEORY

•Based on the belief that roles

define us and our self-concept, and

shape our behavior

ACTIVITY THEORY

•Based on the hypothesis that
•1. Active older people are more satisfied and better adjusted than those who are not active,

and

•2. An older person’s self-concept is validated through participation in roles characteristic of

middle age, and older people should therefore replace lost roles with new ones to maintain

their place in society

DISENGAGEMENT THEORY

•Based on hypothesis that older people, because of inevitable decline with age,

become decreasingly active with the outer world and increasingly preoccupied with

their inner lives; disengagement is useful for society because it fosters an orderly

transfer of power from older to younger people

GEROTRANSCENDENCE THEORY

•Parallels disengagement theory

•Places focus on inner self as positive characteristic

of old age; represents elders’ shift from

materialistic rational view to cosmic transcendent

one

•Accompanied by increase in life satisfaction

•Values contemplation

CONTINUITY THEORY

•Based on the hypothesis that central

personality characteristics become more

pronounced with age or are retained

through life with little change; people age

successfully if they maintain their preferred

roles and adaptation techniques throughout

life

SYMBOLIC INTERACTION

•A theoretical perspective based on the argument that the interactions of such factors

as the environment, individuals, and encounters can significantly affect one’s behavior

and thoughts, including the aging process

SUBCULTURE OF AGING

•A theoretical perspective based on the belief that people maintain their self-

concepts and social identities through their membership in a defined group

(subculture)

LABELING THEORY

•A theoretical perspective derived from symbolic interactionism,

premised on the belief that people derive their self-concepts from

interacting with others in their social milieu; in how others define us

and react to us

LABELING THEORY

•Age Stratification Theory
•Theoretical perspective based on belief that societal age structure affects

roles, self-concept, and life satisfaction

•Social Exchange Theory
•Based on the hypothesis that personal status is defined by the balance

between people’s contributions to society and the costs of supporting them

POLITICAL ECONOMY OF AGING

•A theory based on the hypothesis that social class determines a person’s access

to resources; that dominant groups within society try to sustain their own

interests by perpetuating class inequalities

LIFE COURSE

•Life Course Perspective
•Multidisciplinary view of human development that focuses on changes with age

and life experiences

•Life Course Capital
•Expansion of life course perspective that addresses impact of differential

acquisition of resources among different members of a cohort

DEVELOPMENTS IN SOCIAL GERONTOLOGY

THEORY: THE 2ND TRANSFORMATION

•Social Phenomenology/Social Constructionism

•A point of view in studying social life that places an emphasis on the assumptions and

meanings of experience rather than the “objective” facts, with a focus on

understanding rather than explaining

CRITICAL THEORY

•Perspective that genuine knowledge is based on involvement of the

“objects” of study in its definition and results in a positive vision of how

things might be better rather than an understanding of how things are

FEMINIST PERSPECTIVES

•The view that the experiences of women are often ignored in understanding

the human condition together with efforts to attend critically to those

experiences

POSTMODERN CONSTRUCTIONS OF AGING

•Emphasizes cultural interactions of the complex aging body and social

context in shaping “lived experience” across the life course

•Addresses biotechnology and reconstruction of aging bodies to reinvent

aging with biomedical/information technology

“FOUCAULT EFFECT” ON

GERONTOLOGICAL THEORY

•Centers on medical and social work “expert gaze” that distances themselves from

elders and treats them as dependent objects

•Relationship of the controller and the controlled in long term care

•Encourages elders to resist practices of professional power and scientific knowledge

to control them

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