Doing Middle Age: Evidence from Finland and the U.S

  • Ilkka Pietilä (Speaker)
  • King Neal (Speaker)
  • Ojala, H. (Speaker)

    Aktiviteetti: Konferenssiesitelmä


    Contributors: Pietilä Ilkka, King Neal, Ojala Hanna / ABSTRACT:Age differs from other forms of inequality in that people talk about aging as a process, and recognizethemselves and others as necessarily changing statuses. As they do so, they negotiate theboundaries between age categories in various everyday interactions. In this regard, previousresearch shows that people will resist being categorized as "old" because of its denigrated status.In this paper, we draw on data collected from Finland (N= 33) among metal workers and engineersaged 50-55, and 65-70; and from the U.S. (N=19; ages 42-61). Respondents all claimed to be middleaged, even those in their 70s. We suggest that they do so in an effort to avoid being categorized asold. Chronological age does not seem to be the sole basis of age categories. Respondents alsosuggest that they are middle aged quite differently from previous generations, and they characterizethis as active versus inactive. Finally, they ascribe to middle age other positive characteristics, suchas maturity and freedom, which compensate for the loss of their young bodies, and which furtherdifferentiate them from old people whom they see as more constrained. We conclude that theexpansion and positive valuation of middle age, and the invidious comparisons of their parents tothemselves together position them in a status higher than that of old age. As the one inequality inwhich all people assume they will shift in status over the courses of their lives, age invites anexpansion of the last status prior to the most stigmatized one, old age.
    Aikajakso17 heinäk. 2018
    Tapahtuman otsikkoXIX ISA World Congress of Sociology
    Tapahtuman tyyppiOther
    Tunnustuksen arvoInternational