Aging: It’s interpersonal! Reflections from two life course migrants

Publication Type Journal Article
Year of Publication 2016
Authors Hagestad, GO, Settersten, Jr, RA
Journal The Gerontologist
Pagination gnw117
Date Published 09-2016
ISSN 0016-9013
Abstract

We start with the observation that aging gerontologists often engage in two distinct discourses on aging—one public and one private. This separation entails “othering,” which reproduces agism and stigma. Based on personal experience, insight from colleagues and writers, and concepts from symbolic interaction perspectives, we argue that becoming old to some degree involves becoming a stranger. Before reaching old age, both of us have been in the position of strangers due to social experiences that left us “off the line” or “on the margins.” Examples are crossing social borders related to nations, class structures, gender, race, health status, and generations. Our stories illustrate how aging is more than personal. It is interpersonal—shaped by social history, policies, interdependence in relationships, and the precariousness of old age. Such phenomena often show sharp contrasts in the interpersonal worlds and social experiences of women and men. Reflecting on our own journeys as life course migrants leaves us acutely aware of both the social problems and potential promises of aging.

URL http://gerontologist.oxfordjournals.org/lookup/doi/10.1093/geront/gnw117
DOI 10.1093/geront/gnw117
Short Title GERONT
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