The embeddedness of age: Toward a social control perspective

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This article discusses two ways in which age is embedded-in sociology and in society. By embeddedness in sociology I mean that sociological theory and research have continuously developed ideas about age. Furthermore, these ideas have been divided into macro- and microsociological perspectives. Age has been defined as chronology, as a cultural object, as a structural property of societies, and as a social group. In the first half of this article four strands of sociological interest in age derived from these definitions are identified. In the second half, the way age is embedded in society is discussed. Integrating macro- and microsociological analyses, a rubric of social control is developed suggesting that age-linked norms control individual behavior, emotions and relations in the public domain. Biological processes, economic conditions, individual definitions and the private sphere modify those norms. The interaction of these domains renders age norms flexible and subject to change. © 1987 JAI Press, Inc.




Reinharz, S. (1987). The embeddedness of age: Toward a social control perspective. Journal of Aging Studies, 1(1), 77–93.

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