social structure :influence on aging individuals

A sociological perspective on aging highlights the role that social structure plays in shaping the choices and experiences of aging individuals. That is, sociologists recognize that while we are acting, feeling, reasoning beings that attach meaning to our behavior, there are also important structural forces that influence our choices and experiences. For example, powerful forces of the media and cultural expectations of aging may influence an individual’s choice  . Similarly, an older person’s choice to participate in community events may depend on their access to economic resources and transportation. “the ways in which our society is organized at a given history, including its distribution of wealth, political and economic system, cultural patterns, dominant social roles, and power relationships between groups” (Funk, 2016, p.3) also influence choices and experiences of the elderly .

How social structures in the social world influence aging individuals.

Age is not merely a biological function of the number of years one has lived, or of the physiological changes the body goes through during the life course. It is also a product of the social norms and expectations that apply to each stage of life. Age represents the wealth of life experiences that shape whom we become. With medical advancements that prolong human life, old age has taken on a new meaning in societies . However, many aspects of the aging experience also depend on social class, race, gender, and other social factors.

Societal changes that have happened over the years have also affected attitudes toward the elderly. Researchers believe industrialization and modernization have contributed greatly to lowering the power, influence, and prestige the elderly once held.

The elderly have both benefitted and suffered from these rapid social changes. In modern societies, a strong economy created new levels of prosperity for many people. Health care has become more widely accessible and medicine has advanced, allowing the elderly to live longer. However, older people are not as essential to the economic survival of their families and communities . While the average person now lives 20 years longer the prestige associated with age has declined.


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