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Gender and later life: a sociological analysis of resources and constraints

Author: Arber, S., Ginn, J.
Year: 1994
Type: Book


An analysis of the lives of elderly people, especially women, from a sociological perspective - examining the influence of gender & class on the well-being of older people & considering whether social factors are more important than chronological ones - presented in 10 Chapters with a Preface & 2 Appendixes. (1) The Feminization of Later Life - outlines demographic changes in the U.K. & the U.S. that have resulted in an aging population with an increasing gender imbalance, evidenced by the growing proportion of elderly women living alone. (2) Sociology, Feminism and the Neglect of Elderly Women - discusses the neglect of later life by feminist sociologists, considers what the sociology of the elderly can learn from feminist analysis of women's role in the labor market & in domestic production, & suggests parallels between lack of attention to gender in sociology & the present marginalization of the elderly. (3) Ageism and Cultural Stereotypes of Older Women - examines ageism as it relates to cultural stereotypes of older people in general & older women in particular, & argues that negative images of older women are related to patriarchy & contribute to the social control of women. (4) Gender and the Politics of Ageism - looks at ageism from a political point of view. Concepts of elderly people have changed in accordance with the economic & political climate, with "compassionate ageism" yielding to "conflictual ageism," as expressed in recent debate over demographic changes & intergenerational equity. It is argued that such debate is flawed by the neglect of gender differences. (5) Independence and Access to Resources - presents financial/material, health, & domestic/caring resources as key factors needed to prevent dependency of elderly people. These resources form an interlocking triangle, & a problem relating to any one of them tends to constrain elderly people. Each type of resource is analyzed at four levels: personal, household, community, & state. (6) Material Inequality in Later Life - examines poverty of elderly women vs elderly men, outlining differences in personal income in terms of prior roles in reproduction & employment, & highlights tensions based on the dependence of women in marriage & their need for financial independence. (7) Gender, Class and Health in Later Life - examines the problems of poor health & disability among elderly people, gender differences in life expectancy, & institutional care, noting that elderly women suffer poorer health than older men, & demonstrates that social class plays a major role in health & its impact on both male & female elderly. (8) Access to Caring Resources and Dependency in Later Life - considers the sources of care for frail elderly, & contends that dependence on state care is reduced if there are others in the household able to provide care. Elderly women, however, are less likely to have a spouse able to provide care. Thus, gender & marital status influence the likelihood of receiving state care & of entering an institution. (9) Solo Living - compares financial resources, housing, health, & domiciliary support of old men & women who live alone in terms of friendships & intimate & sexual relationships, & gender differences related to widowhood. (10) The Future - Constraints and Opportunities - demonstrates the interlinking of material, health, & caring resources as outlined in previous chapters, considers trends in state & private pension provisions in terms of future financial positions of the elderly, reviews changes in health & social care policy, speculates on how elderly people themselves may fight ageism, & suggests ways in which elderly women can counter their disadvantages & foster their empowerment. Appendix A: The General Household Survey and Socio-Economic Classifications. Appendix B: Construction of a Disability Index from the 1985 General Household Survey.

Further Details

Author J. W. Stanton
Pages ix+250pp
Publish Location Newbury Park
Publisher Sage Publications
Accession Number 5.3.03
Research Notes Main Library
Keywords North Americaolderhealth improvementpolicy compliance

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