Conflict Perspectives on Aging Sociology Help

Conflict Perspectives on Aging

Conflict theorists view aging as especially problematic  in contemporary capitalistic societies. As people grow older, their power tends to diminish unless they are able to maintain wealth. Consequently, those who have been disadvantaged in their younger years become even more so in late adulthood. Women age 75 and over are among the most disadvantaged because they often must rely solely on Social Security. having  outlived their spouses and sometimes their children(Harrington Meyer. 1990). Underlying the capitalist system is an ideology which assumes that all people have equal access to the  means of gaining wealth and that poverty results from individual weakness. When older people are in need. they may be viewed as not having worked hard enough or planned adequately for their retirement. The family and the private sector are seen as the “proper” agents to respond to their needs. To minimize the demand for governmental assistance. these services are made punitive and stigmatizing to those who need them  (Atchley and Barusch, 2004). Class-based theories of inequality assert that government programs for older
persons stratify society on the basis of class. Feminist approaches claim that these programs perpetuate inequalities on the basis of gender and race in addition to class (Harrington Meyer. 1994). Conflict analysis draws attention to the diversity in the older population. Differences ill social class, gender. and race/ethnicity divide older people just as they do everyone else. Wealth cannot forestall aging ·indefinitely. but it can soften the economic hardships faced in later years. The conflict perspective adds to our understanding of aging by focusing on how capitalism devalues older
people. especially women. However. critics assert that  this approach ignores the fact that industrialization and capitalism have greatly enhanced the longevity and quality of like for many older persons. The major sociological perspectives regarding aging are summarized in the Concept Quick Review

Posted on September 7, 2014 in AGING AND INEQUALITY BASED IN AGE

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