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Flashcards in Chapter 2 Deck (32):

a subfield within the wider field of gerontology; it focuses on the social side of aging while other subfields study the physical and biological aspects of aging

social gerontology


these theories focus on individuals and their interactions; they are used to explain phenomena such as the relationship between adult children and their parents, changes in memory with age, and the effect of negative attitudes on older people’s self-esteem

micro-level theories


these theories “examine social structures or structural elements as they influence experiences and behaviours”

macro-level theories


a perspective that focuses almost exclusively on the micro level of social life; it looks at how people define situations, how they create social order, and how they relate to one another in daily life

Interpretive perspective


this perspective holds that social order is based on consensus, cooperation, and shared norms and values, and that all parts of society serve a role or function to keep society in a state of balance or equilibrium

Functionalist perspective


theoretical perspective based on the belief that knowledge is built by studying observable facts and their relationship to one another

positivist worldview


a theory that focuses on the movement of age cohorts over the life course and on “the role of social structures in the process of individual aging and stratification by age in society”

age stratification theory


a group of people born in the same period of time; for example, all the people born between 1950 and 1955 form an age cohort

age cohort


a concept used in age stratification theory to describe a period of life defined by society, such as childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood

age grade


a functionalist approach that bridges the micro and macro levels of analysis by incorporating social interaction and social structure within its framework

life course perspective


changes in social status or social roles such as marriage, parenthood, divorce, remarriage, and widowhood.



long-term patterns of stability and change that often include many transitions



a perspective that holds that society consists of conflicts between dominant and subordinate social groups

conflict perspective


a theory that focuses on conflict and change in social life; it traces this conflict to the struggle between social classes and to the resulting dominance of some groups in society and the subordination of others

Political economy theory


“macro level connections linking systems of oppression such as race, class, and gender”

Interlocking systems of oppression


this theory says that disadvantages earlier in life accumulate and are magnified over the life course

Cumulative disadvantage theory


an approach that views gender as a defining characteristic in social interaction and life experiences, as well as in the process and experience of aging; gender is seen as socially constructed, with men being more advantaged than women in society

feminist approach


an approach that seeks to understand the “inside” of aging by examining the narratives or life stories that people tell in order to organize and make sense of their lives, and their experiences of aging

narrative gerontology


a theory that focuses on shared values and social norms that shape popular beliefs in the legitimacy of certain practices and policies; this theory complements political economy theory

moral economy theory


theoretical approaches that look “within” theory and research to critically examine and question the underlying and “taken-for-granted” assumptions about aging

Critical gerontology


contrasts contemporary society with society in the recent past; for example, older people today can take on many roles in retirement, whereas in the past they had limited options after they retired

Post-modern theory


effects on a person’s life related to physical decline or change due to the aging process

age effects


an effect on a person’s life due to the time of measurement; this would include historical, social, or environmental effects, such as an ongoing war, changes in health habits (e.g., better nutrition), or changes in healthcare policies that have different influences on different age cohorts

period or environmental effects


an effect on a person’s life related to the time of the person’s birth

cohort effects


a research method that studies people from many age groups at one point in time

Cross-sectional research design


a research method that looks at a single group of people at two or more points in time

Longitudinal research design


a research method that examines different groups of people of the same age at different points in time (e.g., 70 year olds in 1989,1999, and 2009)

Time-lag comparison design


a research method that looks at a series of cross-sectional studies during a longitudinal study

Sequential design


research methods that use statistical methods and mathematical models to analyze data that include census data, national social surveys, and epidemiological studies

Quantitative methods


refers to the use of more than one research method in a research study; for example, combining a quantitative survey with qualitative interviews, or two qualitative methods, such as interviews and focus groups

Mixed methods (or triangulation)


research methods that include in-depth interviews, analysis of the content of documents or artifacts, and field observation; researchers use these methods to understand individuals’ social world and experience from the subjects’ own perspective

Qualitative methods


promotes the use of research findings in the delivery of services to older people

Evidence-based practice