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Outline & Assess Socialogical Explanations of Age Inequality

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Outline and Assess Sociological Explanations of Age Inequality (40 Marks)

Most theoretical explanations of age inequality focus on the inequalities faced by the youth and the elderly. Functionalists look at different roles taken on during ageing and have a positive outlook of the stages of ageing as it is believed to benefit society. In contrast, Marxists focus on an underlying class struggle and believe that age is a social construct made to uphold capitalism. However, the Weberian outlook is more complex as it has an interactionist approach and delves deeper into different experiences of age. Similarly, Postmodernists stress the importance of recognising that identities have become fluid and experiences are not fixed so age inequalities have become blurred. However, many of these explanations can be criticised and it is important to note that some of them do not directly refer to age inequality but can be applied to it.
The functionalist approach is that society benefits from the way it treats people according to their age. Parsons, believes that people learn their role in society according to their age. He sees a child in their teen years as someone who is going through the transition of becoming an adult, whereas old age is considered as a time of dependency, created by pensions and a drop in status as the elderly become cut off from mainstream society. Eisenstaedt agrees with this as he also argued that differential age groups enable individuals to learn and acquire new social roles with contributes to social cohesion and solidarity. Therefore, age contributes to social order as everyone knows their role. Similarly, Activity theory focuses on how the elderly learn to play the role of being old as the disengagement from society allows them to engage in new forms of social relationships. For example, being an actively involved grandparent. So, they believe...

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