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Gender, Health and Aging. Continuity and change after 2 decades.

Arber, SL (2013) Gender, Health and Aging. Continuity and change after 2 decades. Medical Sociology Online, 7 (3). pp. 28-37.

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After almost two decades, many issues raised in this article on ‘Gender, Health and Ageing’ still resonate today, but others seem outdated. The following is still largely applicable: ‘It is ironic that such a small amount of research by medical sociologists is devoted to older people despite the high proportion of health resources spent on people above retirement age. What research there is tends to focus on sick older people who are already within the health care system. … The challenge is to build on the theoretical insights and methodological imperatives from feminist sociology and work on women’s health and apply them to older people.’ (Arber, 1994: 18) But other issues raised by the article no longer apply. Although, the importance of hearing the voices of older people and letting older people define issues of relevance to them is widely acknowledged, this is not always the reality in much research. Older people are no longer primarily seen as a ‘burden’, but the mandate is increasingly for older people to be active and engaged in ‘productive ageing’ or ‘successful ageing’. However, this contemporary mandate for older people to be involved in paid work, voluntary work and unpaid care-giving for grandchildren, partners and others, may eclipse social divisions among older people, including their health and physiological capacity to engage in ‘productive/successful ageing’. The great research taboo in terms of hearing the voices of older people increasingly involves those in the Fourth Age. Gender has infused and become firmly embedded within both the Sociology of Health and the Sociology of Ageing, although these two fields remain two separate disciplines, with the former much stronger than the later (at least in Britain). There are still many research lacunae. For example, we know much less about older men and their health than about older women, and the tendency to treat older women (or older men) as a homogeneous group within research remains widespread. More nuanced research is needed which addresses class, ethnicity, partnership status and sexuality among older people, as well as gender, and fully examines the intersectionality that characterises and differentiates the everyday lives, health and health behaviours of older women and men. (Originally published in Medical Sociology News, Volume 20, Issue 1, December 1994)

Item Type: Article
Divisions : Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Authors :
Arber, SL
Date : October 2013
Related URLs :
Depositing User : Symplectic Elements
Date Deposited : 28 Mar 2017 13:25
Last Modified : 28 Mar 2017 13:25

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