In sum, then, age is a characteristic of individuals, but it can also be treated as a characteristic of both populations and of social and cultural systems. While these are analytically distinct phenomena, they are related. Consequently, the explanations of age-related outcomes have some commonality across these different types of outcomes. While few dispute that social forces play a significant role in producing age-related outcomes, the precise magnitude of that role and the mechanisms through which social effects occur are difficult to specify with precision. Thus, whatever the specific phenomenon being studied, debates involving the potency of these social theories of aging are likely to continue for some time to come.
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