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The End Game: How Inequality Shapes Our Final Years
     

The End Game: How Inequality Shapes Our Final Years

by Corey M. Abramson
 

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Senior citizens from all walks of life face a gauntlet of physical, psychological, and social hurdles. But do the disadvantages some people accumulate over the course of their lives make their final years especially difficult? Or does the quality of life among poor and affluent seniors converge at some point? The End Game investigates whether persistent

Overview

Senior citizens from all walks of life face a gauntlet of physical, psychological, and social hurdles. But do the disadvantages some people accumulate over the course of their lives make their final years especially difficult? Or does the quality of life among poor and affluent seniors converge at some point? The End Game investigates whether persistent socioeconomic, racial, and gender divisions in America create inequalities that structure the lives of the elderly.

Corey Abramson’s portraits of seniors from diverse backgrounds offer an intimate look at aging as a stratified social process. They illustrate that disparities in wealth, access to health care, neighborhood conditions, and networks of friends and family shape how different people understand and adapt to the challenges of old age. Social Security and Medicare are helpful but insufficient to alleviate deep structural inequalities. Yet material disadvantages alone cannot explain why seniors respond to aging in different ways. Culture, in all its variations, plays a crucial role.

Abramson argues that studying the experience of aging is central to understanding inequality, in part because this segment of the population is rapidly growing. But there is another reason. The shared challenges of the elderly—declining mobility and health, loss of loved ones and friends—affect people across the socioeconomic spectrum, allowing for powerful ethnographic comparisons that are difficult to make earlier in life. The End Game makes clear that, despite the shared experiences of old age, inequality remains a powerful arbiter of who wins and who loses in American society.

Editorial Reviews

Robert Reich
American seniors face starkly different challenges depending on economic circumstances. The End Game provides a deeper understanding of how inequalities affect the entire passage of our lives.
Dalton Conley
How inequality plays out in our aging population could not be a more important question. The aged are supposedly a group that we have done a good job at protecting with Medicare and Social Security, yet we still see sharp social gradients. This book, the first on the topic, helps to answer that question.
Mario Luis Small
Abramson brings a qualitative eye to a topic we have mainly known through statistics—mortality rates, actuarial estimates, and life expectancies. With a refreshing perspective, The End Game brings us close to what people experience as they age, making clear not only that 'aches and pains' are shared across the board but also that access to resources matters enormously for how people manage those difficulties. The book dispels stereotypes over and over; his elderly respondents work to maintain their image, laugh at their failing memories, and smoke marijuana. The book is a terrific contribution to our knowledge of how people actually experience inequality in their later years.
LSE Review of Books - Michael Warren
Abramson takes readers on a journey through geriatric inequality to show how on the west coast of the U.S. the supposed golden years of post-employment for many individuals is an illusion, and in reality retirement is a corrosive quotidian struggle on body and soul. However, the saddening tone of this ethnographic work serves many purposes by shedding light on: the effects of social networks; rationalizations behind decision-making; greater understanding of general social stratification; and the symbolic as well as practical challenges of growing old in the U.S.… Avoiding reductionist frameworks and showing the hugely varying lifestyles of Californian seniors, The End Game poses a profound question: how can provision of services for the elderly cater for individual circumstances and not merely treat the aged as one grey block? Abramson eloquently and comprehensively expounds this complex question.
Choice - A. L. Lewis
Abramson provides a remarkable ethnographic look at four urban neighborhoods inhabited by older Americans. He uses in-depth interviews to explore inequality and how it shapes end-of-life issues in ways never seen before. The author’s approach situates inequality experienced by older Americans in a real world context and links culture, social life, biological life, and structural disparities in ways that allow readers to understand the intersectionality of diversity imbued in the lives of older Americans…Abramson opens a window into the reality of old age, the importance of culture and the impact it has on shared/prior experiences, and the inequalities that structure them.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780674743953
Publisher:
Harvard
Publication date:
06/09/2015
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
256
Sales rank:
1,351,950
Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 9.40(h) x 1.00(d)

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Meet the Author

Corey M. Abramson is Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Arizona.

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