Learning to Be Old: Gender, Culture, and Agingby Margaret Cruikshank
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Margaret Cruikshank’s Learning to Be Old examines what it means to grow old in America today. The book questions social myths and fears about aging, sickness, and the other social roles of the elderly, the over-medicalization of many older people, and ageism. In this book, Cruikshank proposes alternatives to the ways aging is usually understood in both popular culture and mainstream gerontology. Learning to Be Old does not propose the ideas of “successful aging” or “productive aging,” but more the idea of “learning” how to age.
Featuring new research and analysis, the third edition of Learning to be Old demonstrates, more thoroughly than the previous editions, that aging is socially constructed. Among texts on aging the book is unique in its clear focus on the differences in aging for women and men, as well as for people in different socioeconomic groups. Cruikshank is able to put aging in a broad context that not only focuses on how aging affects women but men, as well. Key updates in the third edition include changes in the health care system, changes in how long older Americans are working especially given the impact of the recession, and new material on the brain and mind-body interconnections. Cruikshank impressively challenges conventional ideas about aging in this third edition of Learning to be Old. This will be a must-read for everyone interested in new ideas surrounding aging in America today.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Exciting and important . . . this pioneering work addresses an area that is desperately in need of critical analysis.
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Issues, a division of the American Psychological Association: This third edition of Cruikshank's widely-used text makes two main points: 'The first is that aging in North America is shaped more by culture than biology, more by beliefs, customs, and traditions than by bodily changes. In other words, it is socially constructed. The second is that awareness of social constructions and resistance to them is crucial for women's comfortable aging.' She develops these two themes while making significant important points about countercultural gerontology and presents a feminist's view of aging. . . . This book is a useful tool to challenge student thinking about conventional views of aging and to help them broaden their horizons about ethnicity, race, class, sexual orientation, and aging from the standpoint of an old lesbian who is not about to go quietly into that good night.
Praise from a previous edition: This text is such a gem that it is tempting to quote from it non-stop.
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.
Praise from a previous edition: A valuable book on aging. Scholarly and well-documented.
Praise from a previous edition: 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.
Praise from a previous edition: 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.
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.
- Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
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- 605 KB
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- 18 Years
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Meet the Author
Margaret Cruikshank is retired from the women’s studies program and the graduate faculty of the University of Maine. She continues as a faculty associate of the Center on Aging.
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