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Section on Aging and the Life Course

What is Sociology of Aging and the Life Course?

Sociology of Aging and the Life Course provides an analytical framework for understanding the interplay between human lives and changing social structures. Its mission is to examine the interdependence between (a) aging over the life course as a social process and (b) societies and groups as stratified by age, with succession of cohorts as the link connecting the two. This special field of age draws on sociology as a whole and contributes to it through reformulation of traditional emphases on process and change, on the multiple interdependent levels of the system, and on the multidimensionality of sociological concerns as they touch on related aspects of other disciplines. The field is concerned with both basic sociological research on age and its implications for public policy and professional practice.

Basic research topics include age as a structural feature of changing societies and groups, as both people and roles are differentiated by age; the succession of cohorts that link aging processes with sociocultural changes; and aging over the life course as a social process.

Public policy issues encompass intergenerational relationships, work and retirement (including Social Security), communication and transportation, affordable housing, access to health care (including Medicare), health disparities, ageism, among others.