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Aging, social change, and the power of ideas


Author: Riley, M. W.
Type: Journal Article
Year: 1978


There is a relationship between the life cycle & social change. Further, the meanings of life change during the life cycle. From the sociological point of view, societies change with the age structure, & every society is stratified by age. There has been newer work done combining biology, psychology, & sociology & applying them to aging processes. Aging analyses expose how we age, what we perceive as "aging," & the timing involved in aging in comparison with the timing of major social events. The ways in which myths about aging arise are: (1) the life-course fallacy, (2) the fallacy of age reification, & (3) the fallacy of cohort-centrism. As one's private theories of aging are formed, they are flawed by myth & the fallacy of cohort-centrism; & many of these theories become self-fulfilling prophecies. Life, & its events such as aging, are not biologically fixed; rather, there is considerable flexibility & dependence upon social factors. Each new cohort presses society to accommodate them as they carry with them new norms & role expectations. We may help to avoid cohort-centrism by studying aging, & advancing the idea that we are in control of how & when we age.

Further Details

Pages: 39-52
Volume: 107
Issue: 4
Accession Number: 28.5.03
Keywords: older
Reads: 295