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Explain and briefly evaluate how class influences an individuals age identity? [24 mk]

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Explain and briefly evaluate how class influences an individual?s age identity? Any explanation of ?social class influencing age identity of individuals? would presuppose, different types of ?class cultures? would have corresponding ?age identities?. As class and age, both are separate sources of social identity, a discussion would warrant examining if these are related in a cause-effect manner. Old age is associated with a ?stereotype identity? comprising values and lifestyle such as; limited competence, vulnerable, dependence, loneliness, poor health, unable to learn newer skills, restrictions/inflexibility or rigidity, immobility, need care and protection resulting to the marginalisation and stigmatising them as ?inferior? (Pilcher 1996). In UK studies have shown that this stereotyping of old age has come to be institutionalised at several levels leading to discrimination because of age (ageism) (Johnson and Bytheway 1993). However, this stereotype identity is not shared equally by different social classes. This negative identity weakens as one moves upwards in the class hierarchy. ...read more.


There can be instances when because of ageism (age discrimination) a middle aged person may be told that they are too old for particular jobs in their late 40?s and early 50?s. Yet in other ways depending upon the class to which one belongs middle age may bring a higher status than either youth or old age (Bradley 1996). In other words, middle class approach to middle age could be very different from the approach of the working class. For example, the lifestyle choices and values of a middle class ? middle aged man of hankering after their youth, dreaming of buying a sports car or a middle class middle aged woman displaying great concern over menopause may not be true of working class. As regards youth identity, the influence of class is rather subtle. Nevertheless, the youth or the ?young people? are not a united and easily-identifiable social group and they do differ according to class. ...read more.


Sociologists argue that other than class; gender and ethnicity also have a role to play in shaping age identity. Tajfel (1978) and later Brown and Turner (1981) have argued that in actual life individuals may not behave as passive actors guided only by their social identities. Personal identity (personality traits, physical attributes, interpersonal styles, self-esteem, level of aspiration and the like) of individuals may clash with their social identities and decide their behaviour in given situations. Theorists of postmodernism have posited that age boundaries are blurring and the plurality of identities are ever increasing. They have found ?second modernity? to be the most effective prism to study and understand social identities (Beck, 2004; Higgs and Gilleard, 2006) in the backdrop of social transformations associated with an increasing individualization within social life (reflexive individualisation), which draws on a heightened self-knowledge of social relations (Bauman, 1995, 2000; Outhwaite, 2006) and emergence of ?quasi-subjects? (individuals becoming authors of their own biographies and constructing identities and biographical narratives in order to give meaning to their lives that are lived out in the face of uncertainty within workplace) (Latour, 2003). ...read more.

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