Social Concepts in terms of Age Discrimination and Social Stratification Theories

free essayIn modern society, the image of older adults is mostly negative. People believe that the elderly possess such traits as negativism, conservatism, inertia, stubbornness, increased vulnerability, irritability etc. In modern culture, there is an absence of traditionally accepted respectful attitude of young people to the older adults. The representatives of the young generation tend to fear the old age, or treat it with indifference or contempt. Frequently, older people share a similar view. Therefore, it is necessary to reveal positive traits of the senior generation in order to overcome the stereotypes regarding them, and establish a positive image as a source of wisdom and experience. The videos under consideration represent certain sociological concepts connected with the theories of the age discrimination and social stratification, and help to identify the most common ways of overcoming the discrimination of seniors.

The first concept traced in the videos is stereotype. This notion is the standardized and rather stable set of ideas regarding particular social object. Social stereotype functions mostly in the media, everyday consciousness, and are the part of social settings. It is a simplified and standardized, consistent and emotionally saturated image (clich?, pattern), which embodies the essence of the performance of the social object (individual, group, phenomenon or process). The synthesis of the real social-psychological phenomenon and generalization of the personal life experiences from possible sources of information lie at the core of stereotyping. The stereotypes are shared, historically and systematically formed, and fixed by community in the socio-cultural experiences. Their main distinction is monotony. They detect and transmit themselves through the well-established pattern of behavior of the social subjects (social groups, individuals).

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In fact, stereotype is often the basis for age discrimination and social stratification. Age discrimination is conveyed from the theory of ageism. This term denotes the process of systematic stereotyping and discrimination of people because of their age (Butler, 1969, p. 243). However, age discrimination can be both negative with the direct discrimination of rights, and positive with expressing special attention and treatment to the particular group of people (Clark, 2009). It is possible to assume that age discrimination is conveyed due to the stereotypes that usually do not have any scientific support. Stereotype resemble general rumor based on the emotional evaluation of the subject, rather than on its objective analysis. It appears because of the lack of knowledge regarding particular subject maintained by the deep individual fears. The same happens with age discrimination of older adults that is conveyed usually on the fears of the younger people. They are afraid to lose their social positions in the hierarchy of social stratification due to the lack of health or degree of social influence after the retirement. In fact, none of the provided videos represents the direct maintaining of the stereotype. This concept appears in the form of its objection. In the videos about Pinetop Perkins and What does the older worker bring?, the stereotypes about the loss of the professional skills because of the age are destroyed. Pine Perkins performs as brilliant as he did earlier and the audience accepts him cheerfully regardless his age (Fergos2, 2008).

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The 9th part of the documentary Cut Back; Facing Ageism provides the positive sides of the older adults as professionals who possess considerable experience and the sense of responsibility (Sahertian, 2009). Therefore, these videos overcome the stereotype regarding the loss of social positions, as they provide that the one that depends on the certain professional skills can be maintained regardless the age. As for me, I face some stereotypes concerning older adults from time to time. For example, sometimes it seems better to search for the advice on the Internet than ask grandparents about the certain issue, as some people believe that outlook of older people can be prejudiced. Therefore, such stereotypes create the generation gap that can be destroyed if younger generation appreciates the experience of the seniors and respects their point of view.

The next concept represented in the video StreetFilms-Portland: Older adults bike program is the concept of self-realization. It is an implementation of the existing capacity, desires, knowledge, skills, and abilities according to one’s current understanding of himself and his path in life. It is widespread stereotype that when people become older they do not need any self-realization as they have already lived the main part of their life. One can consider it as a part of age discrimination, when some public activities account only for younger generation. One of the main elements that convey social stratification theory is prestige that is understood as the respect to one’s individual.

This bike programme helps seniors to obtain certain respect regarding their physical condition, which also determines the self-realization process. People can obtain self-realization in any social area from job to entraining activities. In fact, self-realization is the conducting certain activity that helps to develop self-confidence and improve positive outlook. The video about bike programme for seniors shows that sport activities can be popular even for older adults and they helps them to believe in their physical capabilities and realize their affiliation to the society in this area of social activities (Streetsblog, 2006). As for me, I obtain self-realization concept during the development of my professional skills and indulging in my hobby. It helps to express my inner world and represent the strong sides in order to acquire certain prestige in my surrounding.

The third social concept represented in the discussed videos is the concept of voluntarism. It means the will to realize the desired objectives without taking into account the circumstances and possible consequences. In the sociological theory, it refers to the notion of individual’s social activity determined by the individual interests and intentions without expecting financial reward. In fact, in the process of industrialization and modernisation of the economy great part of older adults faces the difficulty with official employment. In this case, such representation of the age discrimination in terms of preferring younger workers to the older ones provides the sense of self-distrust and social isolation.

Voluntarism involves free will in the process of professional activity that reveals individual’s altruistic motives to help other people by sharing his or her experience. The video Older adults see benefits from tutoring young children shows how volunteering helps seniors to express their social necessity by sharing their professional skills through teaching (VOA News, 2010). With the help of such form of social participation, they show that older adults can provide much more benefits for the society that cannot be obtained from the younger population due to the lack of experience. Besides, volunteering represented in the video helps to cope with the problems provided by social stratification that comprises working class people with low income who cannot afford themselves private tutors. Seniors in such case are solving two problems at the same time through volunteering. They overcome the stereotypes regarding the useless older adults in modern society, which is a part of age discrimination, and help younger generation to obtain a chance to get the equal education opportunities in comparison to children from the middle- and upper-middle classes of the social hierarchy. As for me, I consider volunteering as one of the most useful form of social interaction as it helps to overcome some financial limits in the process of improving the society in general. I like volunteering in such projects that require helping homeless people, or different types of asylums. Volunteering as a social tool creates a link between the social classes providing help that contributes piece of equality regardless the financial state.

The aging process involves changing of the social status and social roles of older people, moving them to a new system of group and interpersonal relations. With the help of the concepts represented in the discussed video one can see that in the modern society, there are some attempts to promote the social integration of the elderly and extend their social significance and utility in the process of establishment and proper functioning of the necessary mechanisms. This allows such citizens to conduct socially meaningful roles after reaching the retirement age.