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Outline and assess postmodernist explanation of age inequality (40 marks)
Age explanations have changed over the years and various sociological theories have different
explanation on age inequality. In this essay I'm going to analyse various explanation on age
inequality by weberians, Marxist, functionalists and postmodernist. Postmodernist are the only
theory which is applicable to today's world.
Postmodernists believe that age inequalities have been blurred due to various explanations.
Jane Pilcher states that modernity and industrialisation are responsible for the low status of
both young and old within society, as they have both been excluded from the workplace. The
boundaries are becoming now blurred however, people are not acting in the way that they are
expected to. Stages in the life course can no longer be clearly identified. Medical advances
have lead to Ivf leads to older pregnancies, cosmetic surgery allows people to look younger for
longer period of time, and children dress almost identical to adults. Various of phrases have
even be developed to describe the blurring of age groups such as mutton dressed as lamb to
describe the older ages dressing more younger. People now have choice in how age will affect
their life. Pilcher however acknowledges that age inequality does still exist although she states
that it is becoming less rigid.
This belief can be supported by another postmodernist such as Featherstone and Hepworth as
they go on to suggests that the changes are even more profound than she states. Featherstone
and Hepworth argue that children and adults are becoming more alike as it is impossible to
segregate children from the adult world in a media saturated society. Middle aged people are
more likely to try to maintain the looks, activities and pursuits of their youth and are rejecting
chronological age restraints. According to this research, many people argue that age should
only be measured on how old you feel rather than chronological age. They also argue that the
`baby boomers' of the 1960's have done much to break down the stereotypes of old age to
increase the options open to the middle classes as they get older, which supports the view that
postmodernist believe that age inequality does still exist but is becoming less obvious.
A third sociologist who agrees with the explanations above is Blakie who argues that
consumer culture is responsible for changing stereotypes which began when Margaret
Thatcher was in power as she encourages consumerism. Marketing companies have
recognised the buying power of the larger numbers of elderly in an ageing society. Products
aimed at maintaining youth and rejuvenation are endorsed by celebrities who appear to have
already done so for example Mike Jagger. Magazines are appearing which emphasises the
joys of retirement and the choices that are involved and more images of older people enjoying
life are appearing in the media.
To evaluate the postmodernist view, a positive thing is that it is not outdated as they look at the
post modern society which is more modern than most of the other theories which were written
in the 19th century. As studies like Blaikie on age inequality which was conducted in 1999 this
proves that these studies can be applied today's society, which allows the postmodernist views
to be high in validity as they are accurate as they are applicable allowing generalisations to be
made and are therefore universal.
A second positive thing about the postmodernist view is that it takes to account the medical
advancements within society, such as anti wrinkle creams, botox, cosmetic surgery younger
clothes etc... and as we all live in a modern society these things are accessible to all and
therefore is a universal theory.
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The postmodernist view also is deterministic which is a positive thing as it does focus on the
individualistic choice, as people choose to look younger in order to protect themselves from
being discriminated against just because of their age and then can access younger clothes or
cosmetic surgery however it does take into account that some people do not want to look
younger so they choose to stay how they are.…read more
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Conflict sociologist also believe that functionalist fail to take to account that their views fails to
take to account the negative aspects in society, as conflict sociologist not that there is conflict
and exploitation going on in relationships between age groups, such as the CCCS not that
various of sub cultures are now emerging against the subordination of society such as emo,
skaters, Goths etc... which shows that youths are passively acting out from their expected
transition roles.…read more
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Marxist view lacks credibility as it can be applied
to any social group from any age.
In conclusion the postmodernist view is the most reliable explanation to explain age inequalities
as it takes to account the modern world as it takes to account the medical advance and can be
applicable to almost everyone as it the most modern theory out in society.…read more