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Gender and Ageing

Venn, S, Davidson, K and Arber, S (2011) Gender and Ageing In: Handbook of Sociology of Aging. Handbooks of Sociology and Social Research (5). Springer, New York, USA, pp. 71-82. ISBN 978-1-4419-7373-3

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Over the last 30 years, the field of aging has been the site of an exceptional growth of research interest, yet it is only really within more recent social gerontology that the many varied experiences of older people are being acknowledged and explored through the intersection of race, ethnicity, sexuality, class, and, as many have argued, most importantly, gender. This chapter will show the importance of recognizing the gender dimension within the study of aging by exploring how using a “gendered eye”, or adopting a “gender lens” (Calasanti & Slevin, 2001) not only reveals neglected issues for older people, but is also fundamentally important in thinking about the study of old age at a time when the growth in the aging population is unprecedented. The chapter commences by stepping back 30 years to reflect on theoretical approaches to the study of aging and approaches that initially neglected gender. We then move on to demonstrate how the contribution of feminist scholarship raised awareness of the need to identify and address the neglected are of older women’s issues, and at the same time, neglecting older men’s issues (Thompson, 1994). Next, we consider how this approach ultimately evolved to take account of the interlinkages between age and gender relations in recognition of the need to examine men’s and women’s experiences relationally. Emerging issues within this new era of age and gender relations are introduced in the form of the changing nature of roles, relationships, and older people’s identity. The following section focuses on the aging, gendered body through discussion of the tension between aging identities and narratives of bodily decline as experienced differently by men and women (Gullete, 1997). Finally, the chapter concludes by highlighting challenges for the future of aging for men and women, such as the growing numbers of the oldest old, who are predominantly widowed women, implications for unmarried or childless older men and women, and the policy implications of such challenges.

Item Type: Book Section
Divisions : Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences > Department of Sociology
Authors :
Venn, S
Davidson, K
Arber, S
Editors :
Settersten, RA
Angel, JL
Date : 2011
Related URLs :
Depositing User : Symplectic Elements
Date Deposited : 11 Jul 2013 13:08
Last Modified : 31 Oct 2017 15:05

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