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Concept Forum - The third age: class, cohort or generation?

Gilleard, C; Higgs, P; (2002) Concept Forum - The third age: class, cohort or generation? AGEING SOC , 22 (3) 369 - 382. 10.1017/S0144686X0200870X. Green open access

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Abstract

In this paper we consider some of the ways that the third age can be thought about and studied. Taking the work of Peter Laslett as our key source, we explore his 'aspirational' approach toward redefining post-working life and look at some of its limitations as both definition and explanation. There is a need for a more sociologically informed approach to the third age, and we outline three potentially important structures that might better explain it - class, birth cohort, and generation. Whilst it might seem attractive to see the third age as a class-determined status, based on the material and social advantages accruing to people who have retired from well-paid positions in society, the historical period in which the third age has emerged makes this explanation less than adequate. Equally a cohort-based explanation, locating the third age in the 'ageing' of the birth cohort known as the baby boom generation, fails fully to capture the pervasiveness and irreversibility of the cultural change that has shaped not just one but a sequence of cohorts beginning with those born in the years just before World War II. Instead, we argue for a generational framework in understanding the third age, drawing upon Mannheim rather than Marx as the more promising guide in this area.

Type: Article
Title: Concept Forum - The third age: class, cohort or generation?
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1017/S0144686X0200870X
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0144686X0200870X
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © 2002 Cambridge University Press
Keywords: third age, class, cohort, generation, SOCIOLOGY
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Division of Psychiatry
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/60335
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