Sociology : Stratification : Age


Functionalism : Cunningham and Henry

Older people remove themselves from social roles, allowing young people to take on employment and responsibility for society. Occurred through the processes of disengagement from the economic and social sectors of society - leads to the marginalisation of older people.

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Functionalism : Eisenstadt

Age differentiation allows people to acquire new social roles throughout life, so older people may require socialisation into the expectations appropriate to old age.

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Functionalism : Evaluation : Havighurst

Suggested that activity is good for the community and older people.

There is little research to support this type of theorising. Most research suggests that older people benefit from remaining active and engaged.

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Functionalism : Usefulness

Considers the idea that for the younger generation to develop in their careers, older people may have to leave - creating more job opportunities for them.

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Interactionism : Maddox and Atchley

Suggested that individual personality characteristics remain similar as you get older, so those who were engaged in youth will be engaged in old age.

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Interactionism : Evaluation

Feminists have criticised this type of theory because it is based on a malestream view of the aging process. It offers little explanation for inequalities in aging because it focuses on the adaptive strategies of individuals.

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Interactionism : Usefulness

Considers there are individual differences in older peoples experiences; the more active they are in youth, the more active they are in old age.

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Marxism : Townsend

View retirement and consequent poverty as being caused by the needs of the labour market, so the old and the young form part of the reserve army of labour.

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Marxism : Turner

When there is an economic recession, the old and the young become targets for governments and the media as being socially dependent. The old are viewed as a 'burden to society'.

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Marxism : Evaluation : Pakulski and Waters

However, class and age are being reduced to a crude and blunt instrument, incapable of andling the nuances of postmodern society.

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Marxism : Usefulness

Can explain why other people are seen as a drain on social services and the NHS. Despite those individual contributors of taxation to the welfare throughout their entire lives.

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Postmodernism : Featherstone and Hepworth

Suggested that individualisation and a destructured society have made age a fragmented and diverse social category.

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Postmodernism : Evaluation

However, it overlooks the significance of class, ethnicity and gender differences in equality and access to services. Significantly easier for those with wealth.

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Postmodernism : Usefulness

Considers that retirement, or old age, is viewed differently now because people often will retire while they can still experience many more years.

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