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Community College / Lower Division, College / Upper Division
Ohio Open Ed Collaborative
  • Oss0212
  • Sociology
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    Applying the sociological perspectives to aging and the elderly


    OER Text Material

    Sociology: Understanding and Changing the Social World, Sections: 12.3

    The content in section 12.3 will clearly state the assumptions of disengagement, activity, and conflict theories of aging and critically assess these three sociologicaly theories as they relate to aging.

    Supplemental Material (Videos and Reading)

    1. Sociology Theories of Aging
      Review of the different sociological theories studying ageing as a process and its impact on the people and society as a whole.
    2. Psychosocial Theories of Aging: Activity Theory, Continuity Theory & Disengagement Theory (video)
    3. Activity Theory and Aging (video)
    4. Theoretical Perspectives on Aging
      What roles do individual senior citizens play in your life? How do you relate to and interact with older people? What role do they play in neighbourhoods and communities, in cities and in provinces?Sociologists are interested in exploring the answers to questions such as these through a variety of different perspectives including functionalism, symbolic interactionism, and critical sociology.

    Theoretical Perspective and Major Assumptions

    1. Disengagement theory: To enable younger people to assume important roles, a society must encourage its older people to disengage from their previous roles and to take on roles more appropriate to their physical and mental decline. This theory is considered a functionalist explanation of the aging process.
    2. Activity theory: Older people benefit themselves and their society if they continue to be active. Their positive perceptions of the aging process are crucial for their ability to remain active. This theory is considered an interactionist explanation of the aging process.
    3. Conflict theory: Older people experience age-based prejudice and discrimination. Inequalities among the aged exist along the lines of gender, race/ethnicity, and social class. This theory falls into the more general conflict theory of society.