New publication: Aging as a Social Process

February 26, 2024

In the eighth edition of Aging as a Social Process: Canada and Beyond, Dr. Andrew Wister presents a synthesis and interpretation of social behavioural research concerning individual and population aging, with a focus on aging in Canada, supplemented with international knowledge positioned in a global context.

Excerpt from the introduction:

This book uses a variety of theoretical and methodological orientations to describe and explain aging processes... throughout this edition, the life course perspective is employed as an overarching integrative framework, since events, decisions, behaviours, constraints, and opportunities at earlier stages in life often have cumulative positive or negative effects at later stages, both for aging individuals (namely, you) and for aging birth cohorts (the baby boomers, Gen X, Y, Z, and A). Moreover, this approach emphasizes the agency that older people, the general public, and you as students have in shaping the direction of society against the backdrop of population aging. The material in this book is based on the premise that aging, as a social process, involves multi-level and complex interactions between individuals and various social structures and systems; within changing social, economic, political, policy, and physical environments; and across diverse cultural contexts, all of which vary at specific periods in history, as well as across one’s life course. It therefore recognizes the contributions of a wide variety of methodologies and the value of integrating knowledge from different sources and perspectives. This book has three general objectives:

  1. To provide you with basic concepts, theories, and methodologies that can be used to help you understand social phenomena related to individual and population aging and to develop critical thinking and observational and interpretive skills. Moreover, with this knowledge, you will be better prepared to identify, deconstruct, and refute common misconceptions about aging and growing older. Where possible, the book presents alternative explanations for aging processes rather than a single description or interpretation of a process or problem.

  2. To sensitize you to the fact that aging is not just a biological process but an equally complex social process. In fact, you may be left with the impression that there are more gaps in knowledge than answers. Herein lies a challenge to the curious innovative reader who may wish to pursue a career in this field.

  3. To make you aware of the dynamic interplay between your individual life course and the local, national, and global historical and cultural forces that shape your life experiences and opportunities. Aging, as a lifelong process, must be of interest and concern to people of all ages and in all communities, cultures, and countries.

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