The Growth of Ageism

Lesson 1, Topic 2
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The Growth of Ageism

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Directions: Before you start, listen to part of a talk in a sociology class.

*Vocabulary is sometimes provided in written form when it may be unfamiliar to the student but essential for understanding the lecture

agrarian society

The Growth of Ageism - Transcript

Ageism is discrimination based on age. Ageist attitudes and biases based on stereotypes reduce elderly people to inferior or limited positions.

When ageism is reflected in the workplace, in health care, and in assisted-living facilities, the effects of discrimination can be more severe. Ageism can make older people fear losing a job, feel dismissed by a doctor, or feel a lack of power and control in their daily living situations.

In early societies, the elderly were respected and revered. Many preindustrial societies observed gerontocracy, a type of social structure wherein the power is held by a society’s oldest members. In some countries today, the elderly still have influence and power and their vast knowledge is respected.

In many modern nations, however, industrialization contributed to the diminished social standing of the elderly. In agrarian societies, a married couple cared for their aging parents. The oldest members of the family contributed to the household by doing chores, cooking, and helping with child care. As economies shifted from agrarian to industrial, younger generations moved to cities to work in factories. The elderly began to be seen as an expensive burden. They did not have the strength and stamina to work outside the home. What began during industrialization, a trend toward older people living apart from their grown children, has become commonplace.