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Age Identity

Richard A. SetterstenJr. and Lynn Gannon

Subject Sociology of Health, Aging, and Medicine » Sociology of Aging

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405124331.2007.x


Extract

Age is important for societies, groups, and individuals (Settersten 2003a). For example, age underlies the organization of family, educational, work, and leisure institutions and organizations. Many laws and policies structure rights, responsibilities, and entitlements on the basis of age. Members of a society may share informal ideas about age and the changes that occur between birth and death, and individuals use these ideas to organize their lives. Age also shapes everyday social interactions. Age is also linked to many aspects of self and personality, including “age identity” – that is, how individuals feel and think about themselves and others based on age. “Subjective age identification” was an especially lively tradition of research from the 1960s through the 1980s, but has only received scattered attention since (for an early review of this literature, see Barak & Stern 1986 ; for information on instruments and methods, see Cutler 1982; Settersten 1999 ). Several specific facets of age identity have been explored, including how old individuals feel, look, act (e.g., social roles and activities; interests and hobbies; functional capacities), and think (e.g., attitudes and values; intellectual functioning). Research in this tradition has also examined how individuals identify with or classify themselves into larger age groups, and how they compare themselves to age peers ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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