age inequality

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  • Explanations of age inequality
    • Functionalist
      • Parsons argued social cohesion is based on age groups knowing their place and their roles
      • Children must be socialised into their adult roles
      • Eisenstadt agreed and argued that children have less status than adults
      • The position of the elderly has improved with a statutory retirement age and a state pension, but they lose power and status as their children leave home and they retire
      • Cunninghams and Henry 1961- Older people need to disengage from the workforce in order to make way for younger ones
        • Hockey and James 1993- Functionalism is too deterministic, emphasising confomirty and consensus, it fails to address inequalities that are as a result of class gender and ethnicity
        • Youth and old age are socially constructed and this serves the legitimate the serparation of people by age and the resulting inequalities
        • Hunt 2005- argues the elderly do not automatically disengage- they may wish or need to continue working
    • Marxist
      • The inadequate state pension leads to some elderly people being dependent on benefits
      • Young people without skills and retired people form a reserve army of labour
      • The elderly tend to have less disposable income and are consequently of less interest to capitalism, they do not produce or consume
      • McDonald and Marsh 2005- young people in deprived areas lacked power and status
        • Class divisions between youth subcultures are fleeting, fragmented, and fluid
        • The reserve army of labour theory does not explain age inequality- it can apply to social groups from any age
        • There is a growing number of elderly with disposable income who have consumer power
    • Feminist
      • Oakley argues that inequalities experienced by children are linked to those of women and the patriarchal nature of society
      • Children are controlled by adults in relation to the age they can start work, their education, where they can play and the use of their time. Some are controlled by abuse and neglect
      • Older women are materially deprived compared to men as a result of time out of employment and the gender pay gap- Gannon 1999
        • Wyness 2006- argues children are controlled by both men and women
    • Postmodernist
      • Fatherstone and Hepworth 1999 note there is a constant bombardment of messages from the media to try to stay young and delay the ageing process
        • The mask of ageing
        • On the other hand, children are being encouraged by the media to take on adult behaviours
        • Certain lifestlye choices may not be available to those with low incomes
        • Nayak 2003- argues the processes of class and racial disadvantage and social and economic exclusion, impact heavily on youth leisure and culture
        • Shildrick and McDonald 2010 argue that youth subcultures emerge as a response to material deprivation in areas such as Teeside


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