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Status of Older People: Modernization

The Modernization Story, Modernization Theory And The Study Of Aging, Critiques Of Modernization Theory, Modernization Theory And Social Gerontology

The nineteenth and twentieth centuries were marked by sweeping technological advances and rapid social transformations, particularly in Western Europe and North America. The proportion of older people in national populations grew, slowly at first, and then more rapidly as fertility behavior changed and public health measures contributed to increases in longevity. These socioeconomic and demographic changes created the context for the formal study of aging and old age, as historians and social scientists undertook systematic research in social gerontology after World War II.

One way researchers have sought to understand the effects of widespread social change on older people has been by researching aging and old age in the context of modernization. As a conceptual framework, modernization embraces the notion that large-scale social processes, like technological advances and changes in modes of production, create new roles and statuses for people (including older people) and their families. As a theoretical model, modernization theory involves a series of formal statements that can be tested with evidence and that specify how specific social or technological changes create particular socioeconomic effects for older people (and others) as societies modernize over time.

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Medicine EncyclopediaAging Healthy - Part 4