Few people think deeply about later life and the ways our culture and others have defined it and yet, most of us are likely to have preconceptions and sometimes false beliefs about aging and old age. Most people are preoccupied with their current lives and plans for the future: education, friends, relationships, careers, finances, and other markers of adulthood. Yet all cultures convey overt or covert messages and sometimes fears about old age.
In this course, you will learn more about how society constructs old age as a distinct period of life. We will consider the importance of social class, race and ethnicity, and gender in defining people’s lives and opportunities. We will also focus on the myths and inaccuracies our culture perpetuates about aging, individuals in later life, and the process of growing old. Such beliefs not only pattern our own expectations about growing old but also have social, personal, and political consequences for older people themselves. We will also examine career opportunities in social gerontology. How gerontology developed as a field of study and the research methods used in social gerontology are also discussed.