Social norms are defined as the expectations a group or society has regarding situations or individuals within that group or society. In some circumstances this translates to the expectation that older adults need to act old. There are different theories regarding social aging, many of which reflect a particular social norm or even generational perspective on social aging. For example, role theory reflects how a person ages based on his or her perceived roles. According to this theory, a person’s career would often help identify who that person is, such as a doctor, nurse, mechanic, or cook. Another view is the life course perspective, which looks at aging through a longitudinal perspective based on life experiences and normative and non-normative life events.
- Describe two other social theories on aging. Explain the strengths and weaknesses of one of the theories chosen and compare it to the life course perspective and role theory.
- Explain how social norms can lead to stereotypical views of older adults. Describe how these views are being challenged and changed.
- Explain, from a social support and relationship perspective, how older adults utilize tradition and rituals to come to terms with normative and non-normative life events.