This course was developed for upper level undergraduate and level graduate students from a wide variety of disciplines. Typically students who take the class are majors in anthropology, sociology, gerontology, psychology, social work and nursing and public health. There is a very strong emphasis on qualitative app roaches to understanding the aging process. I have included copies of the guidelines for the undergraduate and graduate papers (see appendix 1 for graduate projects) which reinforce the strongly qualitative approach of the course. In another section I will include other select teaching resources and course outlines.
If your campus has a good computer center it might be useful to devote a class period to having the students learn how to use the research tools available through library computer linked systems and the world-wide web sites mentioned.
Two interesting new books which would also fit in well with the edited text are:
Counts, D. A. and D. R. Counts. 1996. Over the Next Hill: An Ethnography of RVing Seniors in North America. Petersborough, ON: Broadview.
Hashimoto, A. 1996. The Gift of Generations: Ja panese and American Perspectives on Aging and the Social Contract. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
SPRING 1996 ANT 4930/6469 or GEY 4935/6934
DR. JAY SOKOLOVSKY
AGING, CULTURE AND EXPERIENCE - COURSE OUTLINE top of page
This is truly the age of aging. We are on the leading edge of a demographic and health transition revolution which will globally shape almost all aspects of life, such as perceptions of the life cycle, the organization of health care systems; intergenerational relations; the nature of family life; the structure of communities and attitudes toward death.
This course will i nvestigate the process of growing old and experiencing aging in a world-wide sample of cultures. Over the semester we will seek to understand the contribution of anthropology to gerontology by providing a cross-cultural and global perspective. We will also attempt to apply the concerns of anthropological research to the problems of aging in our own society. This should always be a goal in the back of your mind when you are reading the assignments. Each week you will get a set of fo cus questions for the next class. You should come to class prepared to discuss answers to these questions based on the readings. The classes will be a combination of lectures, discussion and occasional audiovisual presentations. This class will be run as a seminar and regular attendance in required. NOTE: IF YOU MISS MORE THAN 2 CLASSES WITHOUT AN EXCEPTIONAL REASON YOU CANNOT RECEIVE AN A. Grades will be based on the following:
Undergraduate: mid-term (30%); final (25%); interview projects (30%); class participation (15%)
Graduate: mid-term (25%); final (20%); interview projects (20%); term project* (20%); class participation (15%)
*Note: Students will have the option of doing a project on related to the book City of Green Benches instead of project #2 on grandparents.
REQUIRED TEXTS top of page
1. Jay Sokolovsky (editor) The Cultural Context of Aging: World-Wide Perspectives, 2nd edition. Bergin and Garvey (Greenwood), 1997.
2. Barbara Myerhoff. Number Our Days, Sage, 1978.
3. Maria Vesperi. The City of Green Benches, Cornell
University Press, 1985.
Handouts: Throughout the semester you will r eceive -reading materials from the instructor: You can be certain that these are important and will be discussed in class. I am working to complete a new edition of book 1 and will try to give handouts of new chapters for the class to analyze.
Library Reserve (for assignments on reserve preceded by "R")
1R. Jay Sokolovsky (editor) Growing Old in Different Societies,
Copley Press, 1987.
HANDOUTS AND OTHER RESERVES top of page
A number of articles will be distributed in class while others will be held on reserve in the Library.
I will also try to put the following articles and books on Reserve as additiona l resources:
****Student Projects: 3 examples of project #1.
Counts, D. "I'm not Dead Yet..."
Fry, C. and Keith, J., New Methods for Old Age Research, Bergin and Garvey.1986. The book to read if you plan on doing field work.
Francis, D. "Aide Memoire" - Life history research guide
Gubrium, J. and A. Sankar. Qualitative Methods in Aging Research. Sage. 1994.
Nusberg, C. and Sokolovsky, J. 1994. The International Directory of Research and Researchers in Co mparative Gerontology, AARP, 1994
Rich and Rich, Old and Homeless 1993. (a book about the elderly homeless in Florida)
Schweitzer, M. Anthropology of Aging: A Partially Annotated Bibliography, Greenwood, 1991.
Sokolov sky, J. "Network Methodologies in the Study of Aging"
ASSIGNMENTS top of page
Will you pass the Sokolovsky "Co mparative Gerontology Quiz"? If you get 100%, you get a 5 point bonus on the first exam. top of page
1. Sokolovsky, "Starting Points: A Global , Cross-Cultural View of Aging"; "Culture, Aging and Context", up to "First Peoples and Aging"
Film "The Grandchild Gap"
Recommended Resources: top of page
World Bank. 1994. A verting the Old Age Crisis. New York: Oxford University Press.
Albert, S. and M. Cattell. 1994. Old Age in Global Perspective. New York: G. K. Hall.
Rubinstein, R. 1992. "Anthropological Methods in Gerontological Research: Enter ing the World of Meaning," Journal of Aging Studies, 6: 57-66.
Gubrium, J., ed. 1993. "Contributions of Qualitative Research on Aging", Special Issue of Qualitative Health Research, 3:3.
Abel, E. and A. Sankar, ed 1995. "Qualita tive Methodology" Special Issue of Research on Aging---. 171:
Featherstone, M. and A. Wernick, eds. 1995. Images of Aging: Cultural Representations of Later Life.
Week 3 JAN. 23 STUDYING CULTURE IN THE REALM OF AGING top of page
1. Complete "Culture, Aging and Context"; Ch .3- Glascock; Ch. 5 - Fry et al.;
2. Foreword and Chap. 1 Handout: Keith "Participant Observation";
Resources, graduate students:
Reserve: Jay Sokolovsky "Network Methodologies in the Study of Aging" from New Methods for Old Age Research
Week 4 JAN. 30 AGING, TIME, CULTURE AND GENDER Slides by Lowell Holmes, "Aging in Samoa" top of page
1. Ch. 2 - Rosenberg; Ch. 4 - Cattell
1R Holmes and Rhoads.
Recommended for Graduate Students: Special Issue of J. of Cross-Cultural Gerontology: "Gender, Aging and Power in Sub-Sahara Africa" 7:4: 1992.
Week 5 FEB 6 AGE STRATEGIES, AGE GROUPS & GENERATION AS A SOCIAL BOUNDARY: top of page
1R: Cool and McCabe "The Scheming Hag and the Dear Old Thing"
1. Sokolovsky "The Cultural Construction of Interge nerational Ties"
1. Ch. 8 - Akiyama, Antonucci and Campbell,
**WRITTEN ASSIGNMENT 1 - Interview 4 people (a male and female pair, ages 15-35 and another pair, ages 60-80). These people should not be close relat ives, and they should not be interviewed at the same time.
Information to obtain:
1. What is "old age"; how do they define it? How are "old" persons identified; can one observe differences (behavior, appearance)? How does one change from non-old to old? Are there different levels of oldness or old age? Note differences between the answers of males and females and persons of different ages.
2. Compare your results to eith er the Ju'hoansi people or the Samoans discussed in the readings.
DUE WEEK 5: 4 to 5 pages (undergraduate); 5-6 pages (graduate), typewritten, double spaced. NOTE: use these page guidelines for the other short paper.
Special Resources: Tamara Hareven "Changing Images of Aging and the Social Construction of the Life Course" from Featherstone, M. and A. Wernick, eds. 1995. Images of Aging: Cultural Representations of Later Life. (on reserve); Christine Fry, "Age, Aging and Culture" In Handbook of Aging and the Social Sciences
Week 6 FEB. 13 MODERNIZATION AND AGING - Slides: "Growing Old in a Mexican Indian Village" top of page
1. Sokolovsky "Aging, Modernization and Societal Transformation"; Ch. 9 - Sokolovsky
Handout: Margaret Grieco and Nana Apt. 1996. "Interdependence and Independence: Averting the Poverty of Older Persons in an Ageing World." Bul letin on Ageing 2/3:10-18.
Use this to contrast discussion of innovative programs in West Africa to Sokolovsky work on Mexico and programs in your local community.
Week 7 FEB. 20 THE INDUSTRIALIZAT ION OF AGING - top of page
Video-"The Happiness and Longevity Club"
1. Ch. 10 Robb; Ch. 11 Zelkovitz
3. Pp. 11-32 top of page
Handout: Simic "Ag ing, World View, and Intergenerational Relations in America and Yugoslavia
3. Pages 33-71
Olson, L. 1994, The Graying of the World: Who will Care for the Elderly?, Binghamton, NY: Haworth.
Kosberg, J. 199 2. Family Care of the Elderly: Social and
Cultural Changes. New York: Sage.
Week 9 MAR. 5 COMMUNITY, CONTEXT AND AGING Guest Lecture: Maria Vesperi, City of Green Benches top of page
3) Finish book
Video: "Going Home: A Grandmother's Story" (American Indian Grandparents)
1. Ch.6 Weibel-Orlando; Ch. 7 - Vesperi
Special resources: Minkler, M. and K. Roe. 1993. Grandmothers as Caregivers, Newbur y Park, CA: Sage.
Cherlin, A. and F. Furstenberg. 1992. The New American Grandparent: A Place in the Family a Life Apart. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Graduate Students Only: Hand in one-page outline for term project.
Week 10 MAR 19 AGE, FAMILY AND ETHNICITY. top of page
**WRITTEN ASSIGNMENT #2 DUE
1. Sokolovsky "The Ethnic Dimension in Aging"; Ch. 12 - Sokolovsky; Ch. 13 - Peterson
2. Ch 2,3,4
Recommended for Graduate Students: Rose Gibson,"Promoting Successful and Productive Aging in Minority Populations." In Promoting Successful and Productive Aging, 1995. Stanford, E. and F. Torres-Gil. 1994 Diversity: New Approaches to Ethnic Minority Aging. Amityville, NY:Baywood.
WRITTEN ASSIGNMENT #2-Interview four grandparents (2 male and 2 female - NOTE THEY CAN INCLUDE THE TWO OLDER ADULTS FROM ASSIGNMENT 1):
1. What are the basic dimensions of their relationship to their grandchildren? (Note differences between male and female grandparents.)
2. How does their role as grandparent rel ate to their general role as a member of a broader family? Pay attention to conflicts in the different types of roles.
Hand in a report (SAME PAGE SPECIFICATIONS AS BEFORE) comparing
your results with the discussion of aging and grandpare nthood in American Indian
households as discussed by Weibel-Orlando (focus here on general family integration).
Week 11 MAR 26 DOES ETHNICITY MAKE A DIFFERENCE? top of page
Film: "Number Our Day s"; award winning film based on the book.
2. Finish book
1. Ch. 14 - Yee; Ch. 14 Luborsky and Rubinstein
Special Graduate Resource: Padget, D. Eds. 1995. Handbook on Ethnicity, Aging, and Mental Health. Westport, CT: Greenwood.
Week 12 APR 2 SOCIAL NETWORKS AND THE COMMUNITY top of page
**Guest Lecture: Neil Henderson
1. Sokolovsky "Networks and Community"; Ch. 16 - Shenk; Ch. 18 - Dickerson
Slides: Inner City Elderly in New York City (Sokolovsky)
Handouts: Sokolovsky, J. and C. Cohen "Being Old in
the Inner City: Support Systems of the SRO Aged." in Dimensions of an
Anthropology of Aging, Chris F ry, ed.
Recommended for Graduate Students: Goist, D. "Social Networks and Adaptive Strategies of the Elderly in England and Ohio" in Dimensions: Aging, Culture and Health, 1981.
Week 13 APR 9 COMMUNITY AS SUPPORT SYSTEM top of page
Slides: "Older Homeless Men and Women" (Sokolovsky)
1. Sokolovsky "Health Aging and Culture" (up to "DISABILITY, LONG-TERM CARE AND THE INSTITUTIONAL ENVIRONMENT"); Ch. 17 - Tsuji; Ch. 22 - Henderson; Ch. 19 - Sokolovsky and Cohen; Ch. 20 Sokolovsky
Recommended for Graduate Students:
Dorothy Jerrome: (1)"That's What It's All About: Old Age Organizations as a Conte xt for Aging" J of Aging Studies, 2:1:71-82, 1988. (2) Good Company: An Anthropological Study of Old People in Groups. 1992. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
Clark, M. and B. Anderson, "The Process of Aging Adaptati ons in American Culture" in Culture and Aging, M. Clark and B. Anderson (ed.), 1967.
WEEK 14 APR 16 THE CULTURAL PASSAGE TO HEALTH IN OLD AGE top of page
1. Finish, Sokolovsky "Health Aging and Culture "; Ch. 21 - Barker; Ch. 23 - Deppen-Wood, Luborsky and Scheer;
Handout: Otto von Mering and Laurie Neff "An Alternative to 'Frailing' into a Nursing Home in the USA."
NOTE: Term Projects due for graduate students
Recommended for Graduate Students:Henderson, N. and Vesperi, M. 1995. The Culture of Long Term Care: Nursing Home Ethnography. Westport, CT: Greenwood. Pamela Doty. 1993. "International Long-Term Care Reform: A Demograp hic, Economic, and Policy Overview," Journal of Cross-Cultural Gerontology, 8: 447-461 (2); Ikels, C., ed. 1993. "Home Health Care and Elders: International Perspectives" Special Issue of Journal of Cross-Cultural Gerontology. 8:4.
WEEK 15 APR 23 The Last Hello: Late Life in Institutional Care: Guest Lecture: Larry Polivka, Director, Florida Policy Exchange on Aging. top of page
The Need for Community-Based Long Term Care in Florida
1. Ch. 24 - Ikels; Ch. 25 - Shield; Ch. 26. Savishinsky
Special Resources: Weiland, D. et al. 1994. "Cultural Diversity and Geriatric Care.." Special Issue of Gerontology and Geriatric Education 15:1.
APPENDIX 1 top of page
GRADUATE STUDENTS MUST COMPLETE A TERM PROJECT. AN
OUTLINE OF THE PROPOSED PROJECT SHOULD BE HANDED IN BY FEB. 13 -- THIS SHOULD INCLUDE; THE
GOALS OF THE PROJECT; HOW YOU WILL CARRY IT OUT AND REFERENCES YOU HAVE LOOKED AT TO DATE.
THE COMPLETED PROJECT IS DUE ON THE CLASS OF APRIL 16. THE PAPER SHOULD BE ABOUT 10-12
TYPED (DOUBLE SPACED) PAGES IN A NON-SCRIPT FONT. REFERENCES IN THE BODY OF THE
PAPER SHOULD BE W RITTEN AS FOLLOWS: (KEITH 1995:135); AND THEN LISTED ALPHABETICALLY AT
THE END OF EACH PAPER UNDER A SECTION CALLED BIBLIOGRAPHY.
NOTE: KEY RESOURCES FOR YOUR PROJECTS WHICH ARE ON RESERVE INCLUDE:
(1) Fry, C. and J. Ke ith, 1986. New Methods for Old Age Research, Bergin and
Garvey. 1986; (2) Francis, D. "Aide Memoire" (interview guide for her life
history data); (3) Gubrium, J. and A. Sankar. Qualitative Methods in Aging Research.
There will be three basic types of projects, although I will be open to any reasonable suggestion.
Project I: Comparative Life Histories' - Emphasis on the older years top of page
Part A: Other Culture
1. You are to examine the life cycle as described in the
ethnographies that are available (refer to Schweitzer, M. Anthropology of Aging: A
Partially Annotated Bibliography, Greenwood, 1991.) on the culture you wish to
study. What happens to an individual (male or female) from birth to old age?
Consider such things as age grades, rit es of passage, age norms, age groups, how are
young linked to old relation of ideology to life cycle.
2. What is the position of an older person in this culture? What strategies are available to an older person? Who is he/she interacting with on a regular basis? Who supports an older person as abilities decline?
In this section of your assignment you are expected to build or
describe the cultural context in which people pass through the life cycle and experience
old age. In other words discuss major social institutions and subsistence. (if
possible I will put on library reserve for this class an example of such a project).
Part B: Your Own Culture top of page
1. You are to contact an older person, not a close relative, and as your informant, that person should be able to inform you about the life cycle in American culture. (Just pretend you know nothing about America.) What has happened to your informant from birth to the present? What age grades (major divisions of life), as he/she sees them, did that informant pass through? What divisions are ahead? What were the im portant events? (these we call rites of passage) Did your informant see themselves behaving differently, having different pressures, of different perspectives at these major divisions in their life cycle? Did they interact with different groups of people for age related reasons?
2.How does the informant view the present? -- i.e. being
old? What is your informant's interpretation of old age -- not just his own, but old
age as a time of life? How is your informant being treated? By Whom? Who is your
informant living with? How close are nearest relatives and friends? What
meaning is attached to different segments of the social world? With whom is your
informant interacting and how often? What are the m ain economic and social
supports? What are your informants major activities?
These are rather big questions, but the intent is to give you some ideas of the possible things to look for and to ask. In talking to your informant the best thing is to have issues like this in the back of your mind so that as conversation progresses and your informant mentions an issue you may follow it out. For hints on doing life history see in library reserve, the "aide memoi re". You are to collect the data and then to organize it and write it up in a neat, concise report. After presenting the data you are to draw your conclusions and offer interpretations of the differences and similarities on aging in th e respective cultures. Where relevant, interpretation of the data should draw upon analysis and theory discussed during the semester. In other words, can a theory such as exchange theory help explain the similarities and differences that you find.
PROJECT II A. STUDY OF AN OLD AGE
ENVIRONMENT - Social Organization and Social Networks of the Aged. top of page
This may be an appealing project for some of you working with aged persons in different environments or those who have an opportunity to observe and interview such people in the community. The object here is to understand the cultural forces effecting the life of the aged in our society. This will typically involve participant observation and the interviewing of a small sample of aged persons and/or other people interacting with the elderly.
This type of project concerns social behavior, and social structure created by the elderly a nd into which they try to fit (e.g. senior center, day care, ethnic churches, housing, nursing homes) of the personal networks that link the elderly to the people around them. For help in getting started you should refer to the handout by Keith "Participant Observation" in New Methods, Jaber Gubrium 1975 Living and Dying in Murray Manor and Sokolovsky "Network Methodologies in the Study of Aging" in New Methods and also as a separate xerox copy on reserve. You course readin g provide you with a good deal of support hear: Myerhoff's and Vesperi's books; Handout from later in the semester (a) Yokho Tsuji: "A Japanese Anthropologist looks at an American Senior Center." (b) Otto von Mering and Laurie Neff "An Alternative to 'Fra iling' into a Nursing Home in the USA (these can be available on request).
What will be important here is not to get a large sample (at least four persons) but to generate qualitative data about the social realities of being o ld and analyze this reality in the comparative context of anthropological data. For example, how are friendships and community organizations created in a particular environment. You should seek to map out and understand the important social network s of respondents and establish the cultural meaning of these networks to aged persons in that environment -- How do networks relate: to satisfying needs; formation of identify as older person; role behavior? How does the general organization of the local environment promote or limit social interaction of elders. These are important questions you should consider. Conclusions of your paper should compare your results with available relevant studies.
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