Age and Identity

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  • Clarke (1976) believes youth to be based around the concepts of rebellion and resistance.
  • Youth is often associated with new styles and subcultures (e.g. chavs or punks).
  • Postmodernists link youth with pick and mix’ culture.
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Middle Age

Middle Age

  • Between young adulthood and old age. 
  • As there are no legal boundaries around middle age, it can be seen as a state of mind.
  • Associated with the age at which the children are leaving home.
  • Bradley (1996) claims it brings a higher status than youth or old age.
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Old Age

Old Age

Victor (2005) described old age as being characterised by:

  • Loneliness
  • Unable to learn
  • Poor health
  • Dependence on others
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Laslett (1991)

Laslett (1991)

Rejects the categories we have just looked at. He instead suggests:

  • First Age – The period of socialisation
  • Second Age – Phase of work and childrearing
  • Third Age – Stage of independence
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How Socialisation Affects Age Identity

(1) Religion

Religion in Britain is declining, old people attach more importance to it than young people 

(2) Media Representations

  • Youth = deviant and troublesome
  • Middle Age = Crisis
  • Old Age = Dependency and loneliness

These representations have a big impact on popular culture

Thornton (1996) argues that they are particularly influential in shaping youth identities.

(3) The Workplace

  • Retirement can be seen as the site that influences people’s age identity.
  • Similarly, the minimum wage for 18-year-olds creates a sense of being an adult.
  • The workplace is certainly the area in which age discrimination occurs most.
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