Age and Identity
Marsh and Keating say age enables us and constrains us
Biology and age...
Obviously has influence on how society divides people
But, sociologists say there are enough cultural differences across socities within the UK to suggest that age differences are socially constructed.
Social and cultural construction of age...
Before in traditional society- children are seen as dependant on elders, and for adults a rite of passage means they are now adults. Teenhood was not recognized.
Elders- Great status and power because of expereince
Age in modern industrial society
Bradley- identifies tive generational major stages.
1. Childhood- Seen as innocent time where your supported by parents, child acts regulate quality of parenting. Experience of childhood is crucial to understanding age as a social construct. Aries says childhood identity has changed over the past 500years.
2. Adolescence or youth- The period between puberty and achieving full adult status. Adolescence was recognized in the 50's as unique, before this teenagers were adults. Postwar so an emergence of teen culture based on specific fashions, hairstyles and music tastes e.g.rock. Cohen noted how the media tend to demonize and exagerate the behaviour of young people to make their stories readable. His study of the 'mods' and 'rockers' provided a 'moral panic' and this illustrated how young people are seen as a social issue. But, the 60's youth subcultures are exagerated, many were normal and had normal goals not wanting to rebel.
3. Young adulthood- the age between leaving parents home and middle age. Pilcher says that this age group has little reaserch carried out into it. Pilcher says adult identity revolves around having a sexual partner, children, job and maintaining a home.
Mid life- Confusion to where mid life begins. Brookes Gun and Kirsch set it as low as 35, whilst others put it as high as 50. There are physical indicators like grey hair, menopause and social indicators like children leaving home and mid life crisis'.
Old age- Legally begins at 65 in the UK. Pilcher argues that we should know the differences between the 'young old' and the and the middle aged old and the 'old old'. Elderly in the UK are not given that much status.
Age and Discrimination & Media
The low status of the elderly causes 'ageism'. Johnson and Bytheway note that it is defined by 'offensive exercise of power through reference to age' and suggest it has three elements...
Ageism is often instututionalised and legal ageism is spread through stereotypical prejudices like assuming someone is too old to carry out something, ageism can be the well meaning assumption that the old are vulnerable and depend on the young and fit.
There is evience that the old stage in life is negatively seen. Arber and Ginn suggest ageism is reinforced by institutional practice.
Ageism in the mass media...
Ageism can be seen through media advertisments like anti hair grey adverts. May also be shown through how middle aged women are underrepresented in the meida. Sontag suggests that women are expected to be young in their media careers but men are not.
Age and identity- conclusion
Sociologists argue age is the product of society.
Marsh and Keating say diffeent cultures attach different cultural meaning and values to different age groups.