Learning To Be Old / Edition 2

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Overview

What does it mean to grow old in America today? Is 'successful aging' our responsibility? What will happen if we fail to 'grow old gracefully'? Especially for women, the onus on the aging population in the United States is growing rather than diminishing. Gender, race, and sexual orientation have been reinterpreted as socially constructed phenomena, yet aging is still seen through physically constructed lenses. The second edition of Margaret Cruikshank's Learning to Be Old helps put aging in a new light, neither romanticizing nor demonizing it. Featuring new research and analysis, expanded sections on gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender aging and critical gerontology, and an updated chapter on feminist gerontology, the second edition even more thoroughly than the first looks at the variety of different forces affecting the progress of aging. Cruikshank pays special attention to the fears and taboos, multicultural traditions, and the medicalization and politicization of natural processes that inform our understanding of age. Through it all, we learn a better way to inhabit our age whatever it is.
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Editorial Reviews

Journal Of Women & Aging
One of [the book's] strengths is its weaving of themes from different fields and disciplines. . . . Another is in presentation-it is informative, lively, and well researched.
Journal Of Marriage and Family
The major contribution may be her analysis of the potential negative effects of women's family roles and her suspicion that grandmothers are being expolited. This book . . . raises a number of important questions.
The New York Times Magazine
Praise for the first edition:
In her excellent book, Learning to Be Old, Margaret Cruikshank compares the aged to a 'colonized people', suggesting that ageism goes beyond dehumanization into actual scapegoating of the old.
Golden Threads
Dr. Cruikshank has done a tremendous amount of research for this book. She covers so much in such little space, that you marvel she gets it all in . . . definitely factual and informative.
Journal of Women & Aging
One of [the book's] strengths is its weaving of themes from different fields and disciplines. . . . Another is in presentation-it is informative, lively, and well researched.
The Women's Review of Books
Learning to Be Old is full of analyses and insights. . . . It can inspire consciousness raising, group discussion, and social and political activism. It will stimulate thought, rev up your indignation, furnish your brain, and probably prove that your mother was a damn sight more astute than you realized.
— Marie Shear
Journal of Marriage and Family
The major contribution may be her analysis of the potential negative effects of women's family roles and her suspicion that grandmothers are being expolited. This book . . . raises a number of important questions.
Canadian Women's Studies
This text is such a gem that it is tempting to quote from it non-stop.
The Gerontologist
Learning to Be Old is a nice text for both the graduate and undergraduate levels, either in courses on the sociology of aging or in women's studies courses to provide a feminist perspective on aging.
Choice
Compressing a significant amount of important information on issues of race, gender, social class, economics, and ethnicity, Cruikshank has created a readable book on the general theme of gerontology. The current research, theories, and practices outlined by Cruikshank will give readers of all ages insights into 'learning to be old.' An extensive bibliography is provided for further study. Essential.
Tucson Weekly
Sheds light on a particular bias inherent in studying this country's burgeoning aging population and asks why unlike gender, race, and sexual orientation identities that have been reinterpreted as socially constructed phenomena, aging is still seen through physically constructed lenses.
The Senior Times
A valuable book on aging. Scholarly and well-documented.
Association Of American Colleges and Universities
Cruikshank's thoughtful analysis challenges our cultural myths about women and aging and invites us to transcend the social constructions and expectations of aging.
The Women's Review Of Books - Marie Shear
Learning to Be Old is full of analyses and insights. . . . It can inspire consciousness raising, group discussion, and social and political activism. It will stimulate thought, rev up your indignation, furnish your brain, and probably prove that your mother was a damn sight more astute than you realized.
CHOICE
Compressing a significant amount of important information on issues of race, gender, social class, economics, and ethnicity, Cruikshank has created a readable book on the general theme of gerontology. The current research, theories, and practices outlined by Cruikshank will give readers of all ages insights into 'learning to be old.' An extensive bibliography is provided for further study. Essential.
Jill Quadagno
Praise for the first edition:
In this lively and engaging book, Margaret Cruikshank challenges the concept of successful aging, which imposes a competitive and male standard on a complex social process, and argues that we adopt instead the notion of 'aging comfortably.
Robert C. Atchley
Praise for the first edition:
The American view of aging is dominated by cultural myths, simplistic media portrayals, and public relations science. In this confusion, strong voices are needed to help us reflect on important issues. Learning to Be Old is a strong critique of the views of aging contained in our culture, and it is a very welcome addition to the growing humanities literature in the field.
Nancy R. Hooyman
Praise for the first edition:
Through its underlying feminist perspective, Learning to Be Old raises the promise of a transformative approach to the paradoxes of aging. Margaret Cruikshank argues that aging is socially constructed and therefore we can (and must) change, unlearn, or rethink what is accepted as the 'truth' about aging in order to learn to age comfortably.
Laura Katz Olson
Praise for the first edition:
Margaret Cruikshank's approach is innovative and creative. Many of her ideas are essential for fully understanding the personal and societal aging experience. She integrates ways to help us age successfully with the larger social and economic questions. Well thought out.
Virginia Gillispie
Praise for the first edition:

Exciting and important . . . this pioneering work addresses an area that is desperately in need of critical analysis.

Nancy Orel
The second edition of Learning to Be Old will be an excellent textbook for graduate or undergraduate students enrolled in gerontology, women’s studies, psychology, and social work, to name a few. However, this book should be required reading for all individuals who aspire to 'age comfortably.' Margaret Cruikshank eloquently addresses the social construction of aging and encourages all of us to unlearn, rethink, and/or reject the current aging myths and stereotypes. Her innovative approach to the 'paradoxes of aging' is informative, thought provoking, and pioneering. Cruikshank indicates that 'learning to be old may be the last emotional and spiritual challenge we can agree to take on,' and Cruikshank’s ideas and teachings can illuminate this journey.
Library Journal
Age discrimination is alive and well in America. Despite increased knowledge about aging and improved longevity, myths and stereotypes abound. This book's title refers to the need to dispel those myths and to see old age as characterized by new opportunities and the development of new talents and strengths. Gerontologist and women's studies expert Cruickshank (Ctr. on Aging, Univ. of Maine) examines the issues from a decidedly feminist viewpoint. She elaborates on two basic ideas: that aging is affected more by culture than by biological changes and that awareness of societal beliefs and customs about aging is essential if women are to achieve "comfortable aging." She also rails against "medicalization" and the overemphasis on bodily decline in old age. Cruickshank raises important issues, but at times her position might strike some as overly strident, as when she suggests that the aged are overmedicated as a result of an inappropriate relationship between the pharmaceutical industry and mainstream medicine. This thought-provoking book is recommended for academic social science and medical collections but would likely prove to be too dense for general readers.-Linda M.G. Katz, Drexel Univ. Health Sciences Libs., Philadelphia Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780742565937
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 12/1/2008
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 266
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Margaret Cruikshank is lecturer in women's studies and faculty associate of the Center on Aging at the University of Maine.
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Table of Contents

Chapter 1 Cultural Myths and Aging Chapter 2 The Fear of an Aging Population Chapter 3 Sickness and Other Social Roles of Old People Chapter 4 Overmedicating Old Americans Chapter 5 Healthy Physical Aging Chapter 6 The Politics of Healthy Aging Chapter 7 Gender, Class, and Ethnicity Chapter 8 Ageism Chapter 9 Prescribed Busyness and its Antidotes Chapter 10 A Feminist's View of Gerontology and Women's Aging Chapter 11 Conclusion: The Paradoxes of Aging
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