Age and Structural Lag: Society's Failure to Provide Meaningful Opportunities in Work, Family, and Leisure / Edition 1

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In twentieth-century industrial societies most of us live longerand healthier lives than ever before in history. Yet the socialstructures and institutions that provide opportunities for ourlives are still marked by age constraints that were appropriate acentury ago. Education is still primarily reserved for the young;work and family responsibilities are crowded into the middle years;while leisure and free time are allocated to the added decades ofretirement. Even the many vital men and women past age 65, or even55, who want or need paid jobs are regarded as "too old" to work.Lives have changed, but social structures have not caught up. Thereis a lag or mismatch between lives and structures. What are thedetrimental consequences of this structural lag for individuals andsociety at large? How do structures change, and how can they bechanged to enhance lives at every age? What alternative structureswould lessen the burdens of middle age, prepare children for thecomplexities of the real world, and provide opportunities forproductivity, independence, and esteem for older people? Seekinganswers to such questions, the twelve chapters in this book bringpowerful insights to bear on structural lag from sociology andpsychology; and they draw upon history, anthropology, and economicsto disclose new perspectives on the past and the present, and newhope for the future. While special attention is paid to structuresaffecting the old, issues relating to all ages are explored inrespect to work, family, education, retirement, and other domainsof social life. This is a powerful book, revolutionary in itsconceptions and implications, calling for structural changes insociety; a new mix of work, family, and leisure. Opening a criticalbut neglected area, it is the first book publication of along-range Program on Age and Structural Change (PASC) directed byMatilda White Riley at the National Institute on Aging andinvolving an international network of scholars. Timely,authoritative, and the only book to offer a comprehensive treatmentof this increasingly important social problem, Age and StructuralLag is a valuable resource for psychologists, sociologists, andthose interested in human development and aging; for those inprofessional practice and in policy, both public and private; andfor sophisticated readers concerned with major issues of everydaylife. As a team of widely known experts, the editors offer a uniqueblend of psychological and sociological insights to this book onAge and Structural Lag. Riley and Foner are credited with creatingthe sociology of age, announced some twenty-five years ago in thethree volumes of Aging and Society, and followed by an unbrokenstream of related publications. Kahn, who collaborated on Agingfrom Birth to Death, draws on his classic work The SocialPsychology of Organizations and his pioneering theories of"person-environment fit" and the "convoy of social support." Yet,it is the specific qualifications of these editors as individualscholars that make this team remarkable. Professor Emerita ofSociology at Rutgers University and Bowdoin College, has beenPresident of the American Sociological Association and chair of keycommittees of the Social Science Research Council, the AmericanAssociation for the Advancement of Science, and the GerontologicalSociety. A member of the Institute of Medicine and the AmericanAcademy of Arts and Sciences, Dr. Riley is the recipient ofcountless awards and honorary degrees—the latest fromRadcliffe College in 1994. The best known of her publications isSociological Research. Currently she is Senior Social Scientist atthe National Institute on Aging, National Institutes of Health. isProfessor Emeritus of Psychology and Public Health at theUniversity of Michigan. He is a fellow of the AmericanPsychological Association, the American Statistical Association,the Academy of Behavioral Medicine Research, the AmericanAssociation for the Advancement of Science, the American Academy ofArts and Sciences, and the American Psychological Society. Dr.Kahn’s other books include Organizations and Nation-States andWork and Health. Currently he is Research Scientist at theUniversity of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research isProfessor Emerita of Sociology at Rutgers University. A longtimemember of the American Sociological Association, she has served asChair of the Section on Aging, and has also held key positions inboth the Gerontological Society of America and the EasternSociological Society. Dr. Foner’s other publications includeAge in Society, Old Age and Aging: New Perspectives, Aging andRetirement, and contributions to the Encyclopaedia Britannica andvarious professional journals. Currently she is working on a newvolume in the Aging and Society series.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780471016786
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 9/2/1994
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.81 (d)

Table of Contents

Partial table of contents:


Structural Lag: Past and Future (M. Riley & J. Riley).

Opportunities, Aspirations, and Goodness of Fit (R. Kahn).


Social Structure and Age-Based Careers (J. Henretta).

Work and Retirement: A Comparative Perspective (M. Kohli).

Family Change and Historical Change: An Uneasy Relationship (T.Hareven).

Old Age and Age Integration: An Anthropological Perspective (J.Keith).


Realizing the Potential: Some Examples (W. McNaught).

Changing Policy Signals (R. Burkhauser & J. Quinn).

Endnote: The Reach of an Idea (A. Foner).


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