Aging Essay Research Paper Throughout the semester

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Aging Essay, Research Paper Throughout the semester we have tried to understand individual choice and individual experiences in the context of social forces and constraints, and the patterning of experience by location in the social structure. Present your understanding of this very sociological perspective. Use examples and readings to support your position. Illustrate your points by referring to a specific phenomenon. Many times when asked about aging, people will respond with the statement, “Aging is what you make of it.” This statement places the responsibility to cope in society on the individual. Through careful analysis of the sociological perspective, this can be understood to be another blame the victim situation. Social forces are incredibly strong. They

influence every one of our lives on a daily basis. Some may argue they create who we are today and who we will become tomorrow. Most importantly they place restraints on the possibilities for the individual, especially the aging individual. The statement, “Aging is what you make of it” is false because society constructs the aging experience. Everything is socially constructed through a process of society. From the time we are born be are socialized to know how society works. In America we have been socialized to go to the bathroom in a certain orderly manner, with social rules such as washing your hands afterwards, being very important. In other cultures this same procedure may be completely different because they are socialized to follow a different procedure. One procedure

may not be better than the other may, but because society has decided to follow the procedure it is part of the socialization process when we are children. Just as we are socialized to go to the bathroom, we are socialized to believe certain things about aging. “If different cultures at different times, value older people in different ways, it indicates that our stereotypes are socially rather than biologically.” (Scrutton) A stereotype is a categorization based on one characteristic, with an evaluative component to that categorization that usually sets the notion of ‘other.’ There are many stereotypes about aging, including old people are all poor, frail, and require assistance. These ageist stereotypes are socially constructed for a number of reasons the major one being

to maintain the status quo. There are many consequences of ageist stereotypes including outright disdain and dislike, subtle avoidance of contact, discrimination in employment and housing, and the creation of a fear of growing older. Even the youngest children demonstrate ageist beliefs about older people. These children’s parents do not deliberately sit down and teach them these stereotypes. They learn them from all of society just as their parents learned them. This social construction of aging goes deep into society. It is in public policy, media, and just about every other major social institution. These factors can have tremendous influence on older adults and the aging experience. Since very part of society reinforces beliefs about what the aging experience is and should

be, older adults do not have many individual choices to make the most out of aging. Society creates dependency of the older people through social institutions and programs. “This “burden of dependency” has been manufactured by public policies designed to reconstitute the labor force and redistribute the burden of unemployment largely through the growth in retirement.” (Hardy) An example of this is retirement. Once a person reaches a certain age at a company, society expects them to retire. Society all along has created the illusion of retirement as a wonderful time in a person’s life when they have worked hard all their life and can now stop and relax. This illusion can be devastating because not only would everyone think you were ridiculous for not wanted to retire,