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Our Perceptions of the Elderly

There is nothing in the nature of aging that exudes a particular set of attitudes. Rather, a society determines its' attitude toward the elderly and as a result attitudes toward the aged will vary from one social group to another.

1. How does each of the sociological perspectives approach the subject of aging?

2. In your opinion how does the media shape the images of older people? How does this influence your expectations for the kind of life each of you hope to have when you reach your senior years?

3. What kind of societal changes if any, would need to take place for each of you to achieve your goals?

4. What would you give as an example of how a racial or ethnic group treats their elderly.

Please include any references. Thank you.

Solution Preview

Hi,

Interesting set of questions! Let's take a closer look at each question through discussion and example.

RESPONSE:

There is nothing in the nature of aging that exudes a particular set of attitudes. Rather, a society determines its' attitude toward the elderly and as a result attitudes toward the aged will vary from one social group to another.

1. How does each of the sociological perspectives approach the subject of aging?

A. Functionalism Theory

Functional perspectives individuals act with each other in groups, form societies and maintain social institutions. All ages are included in this model, and act to keep the society functioning. It is how the individual agents, including the aging shape societies and how societies shape individuals. The functionalist focus on the values that group members have in common (Garner & Mercer, 2001) (http://books.google.com/books?id=YtINGkysjC0C&dq=sociological+perspectives+of+aging). Arnold Rose was a supporter of this perspective and argued that the elderly being excluded from society for a number of reasons, formed their own subculture, creating a peer integrated group linked by common interests, problems and activities. This implies that the aging benefits form age-integrated milieu e.g., institution for the aging. This replaced the more negative view of the aging the disengagement theory. This theory suggests that disengagement is associated with change sin goals, attitudes and orientations of the older person. It describes the 'biosphere' as constricting in which a curtailment of experience is experienced. The theory extends this theory to suggest that society equally disengages from the aging individual and that this is a healthy and beneficial process for both society and the individual. Institutions had rows and rows of elderly patients in wheelchairs with little or not interaction and supported by theory (Abramovice, 1988). (http://books.google.com/books?id=25MD94cX3rEC&pg=PA4&lpg=PA4&dq=interactionism+view+of+aging&source=web&ots=Vz6eYTo3jF&sig=e1OIMVhjzSeOV3sCAl_B87XM5M4#PPA3,M1).

B. Symbolic Interactionism Theory

The symbolic interactionism view of aging incorporates the environment and all elements of the environment as it impacts on the person. Changes in various stimuli in the person's ...

Solution Summary

This solution describes the subject of aging from three sociological perspectives (functionalism, symbolic interactionism, and conflict theory). It also discusses how the media shapes the images of older people and how this influences a person's expectations for the kind of life each person will have when they reach the senior years. It then looks at the kinds of societal changes if any, would need to take place for each of person to achieve her or his goals. It also provides an example of how a racial or ethnic group treats their elderly. This solution is 1232 words.

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