Trends in the Sociology of Aging: Thirty Year Observations

  • Richard A. SetterstenJr.
  • Jacqueline L. Angel
Part of the Handbooks of Sociology and Social Research book series (HSSR)


This chapter takes a broad view of scholarship on the sociology of aging, highlighting how the contours and content of the field have changed over the last 30 years. The chapters of the Handbook of Sociology of Aging provide fertile grounds for these observations. Each chapter traces the evolution of important ideas, synthesizes knowledge, and offers compelling new directions for future inquiry on specific topics. This handbook illustrates the fact that one of the greatest strengths of the sociology of aging is the wide range of topics and methods that characterizes the field. To generate additional observations on the field, we examined a wide range of books and articles on behavioral and social aspects of aging, including three decades of the Journal of Gerontology: Social Sciences, The Gerontologist, and Research on Aging.


Caregiver Burden Successful Aging American Sociological Association Caregiver Strain Healthy Life Expectancy 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Atchley, Robert C. 1971. “Retirement and Leisure Participation: Continuity or Crisis?” The Gerontologist 11:13–17.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Baars, Jan, Dale Dannefer, Chris Phillipson, and Alan Walker. 2006. “Introduction: Critical Perspectives in Social Gerontology.” Pp. 1–16 in Aging, Globalization and Inequality: The New Critical Gerontology, edited by J. Baars, D. Dannefer, C. Phillipson, and A. Walker. Amityville, NY: Baywood.Google Scholar
  3. Bengtson, Vern L. and K. Warner Schaie, eds. 1999. Handbook of Theories of Aging. New York: Springer.Google Scholar
  4. Bengtson, Vern L., Elisabeth O. Burgess, and Tonya M. Parrott. 1997. “Theory, Explanation, and a Third Generation of Theoretical Development in Social Gerontology.” Journal of Gerontology: Social Sciences 52(2):S72–88.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bengtson, Vern L., Daphna Gans, Norella M. Putney, and Merril Silverstein. 2009. Handbook of Theories of Aging, 2nd edition. New York: Springer.Google Scholar
  6. Binstock, Robert H. and Ethel Shanas. 1976. Handbook of Aging and the Social Sciences, 1st edition. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold.Google Scholar
  7. Birren, James E. and Vern L. Bengtson, eds. 1988. Emergent Theories of Aging. New York: Springer.Google Scholar
  8. Cain, Leonard D., Jr. 1964. “Life Course and Social Structure.” Pp. 272–309 in Handbook of Modern Sociology, edited by R. E. L. Faris. Chicago: Rand McNally.Google Scholar
  9. Calasanti, Toni. 2009. “Theorizing Feminist Gerontology, Sexuality, and Beyond: An Intersectional Approach.” Pp. 471–86 in Handbook of Theories of Aging, 2nd edition, edited by V. L. Bengtson, D. Gans, N. M. Putney, and M. Silverstein. New York: Springer.Google Scholar
  10. Clausen, John. 1972. “The Life Course of Individuals.” Pp. 457–514 in Aging and Society: A Sociology of Age Stratification, Volume III, edited by M. W. Riley, M. Johnson, and A. Foner. New York, NY: Russell Sage Foundation.Google Scholar
  11. Cowgill, Donald O. and Lowell H. Holmes. 1972. Aging and Modernization. New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts.Google Scholar
  12. Cumming, Elaine and William Henry. 1961. Growing Old: The Process of Disengagement. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  13. Dannefer, Dale. 2003. “Cumulative Advantage/Disadvantage and the Life Course: Cross-fertilizing Age and the Social Science Theory.” Journal of Gerontology: Social Sciences 58:S327–37.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Dannefer, Dale and Richard A. Settersten, Jr. 2010. “The Study of the Life Course: Implications for Social Gerontology.” Pp. 3–19 in The SAGE Handbook of Social Gerontology, edited by D. Dannefer and Chris Phillipson. Los Angeles: Sage.Google Scholar
  15. Elder, Glen H., Jr. 1974. Children of the Great Depression, 2nd edition. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  16. Eisenstadt, Shmuel N. 1956. From Generation to Generation: Age Groups and Social Structure. Glencoe, IL: Free Press.Google Scholar
  17. Ferraro, Kenneth F. and Markus H. Schafer. 2008. “Gerontology’s Greatest Hits.” Journal of Gerontology: Social Sciences 63(1):S3–6.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Ferraro, Kenneth F., Tetyana Pylypiv, and Shalon M. Irving. 2005. Commemorating 26 Years of the Section on Aging and the Life Course. Washington, D.C.: American Sociological Association.Google Scholar
  19. Ferraro, Kenneth F., Tetyana Pylypiv Shippee, and Markus Schafer. 2009. “Cumulative Inequality Theory for Research on Aging and the Life Course.” Pp. 413–34 in Handbook of Theories of Aging, 2nd edition, edited by V. L. Bengtson, D. Gans, N. M. Putney, and M. Silverstein. New York: Springer.Google Scholar
  20. Havighurst, Robert. 1963. “Successful Aging.” Pp. 299–320 in Processes of Aging, edited by R. Williams, C. Tibbitts, and W. Donahue. New York: Atherton.Google Scholar
  21. Kail, Ben Lennox, Jill Quadagno, and Jennifer Reid Keene. 2009. “The Political Economy Perspective of Aging.” Pp. 555–72 in Handbook of Theories of Aging, 2nd edition, edited by V. L. Bengtson, D. Gans, N. M. Putney, and M. Silverstein. New York: Springer.Google Scholar
  22. Kohli, Martin. 1986. “The World We Forgot: A Historical Review of the Life Course.” Pp. 271–303 in Later Life: The Social Psychology of Aging, edited by V.W. Marshall. Beverly Hills: Sage.Google Scholar
  23. Kohli, Martin and John Meyer. 1986. “Social Structure and the Social Construction of Life Stages.” Human Development 29:145–9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Linton, Ralph. 1942. “Age and Sex Categories.” American Sociological Review 7:589–603.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Maddox, George L. 1979. “Sociology of Later Life.” Annual Review of Sociology 5:113–35.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Mannheim, Karl. 1928 [1952]. “The Problem of Generations.” Pp. 276–320 in Essays on the Sociology of Knowledge. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.Google Scholar
  27. Mayer, Karl Ulrich and Walter Müller. 1986. “The State and the Structure of the Life Course.” Pp. 217–45 in Human Development and the Life Course: Multidisciplinary Perspectives, edited by A. Sørensen, F. Weinert and L. Sherrod. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  28. Merton, Robert K. 1968. Social Theory and Social Structure, 3rd edition. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
  29. Mills, C. Wright. 1959. The Sociological Imagination. London: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  30. Neugarten, Bernie L., Joan W. Moore, and John C. Lowe. 1965. “Age Norms, Age Constraints, and Adult Socialization.” American Journal of Sociology 70(6):710–17.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Palmore, Erdman E. 1979. “Predictors of Successful Aging.” The Gerontologist 19(5):427–31.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Riley, Matilda White. 1973. “Aging and Cohort Succession: Interpretations and Misinterpretations.” Public Opinion Quarterly 37:35–49.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Riley, Matilda White, Marilyn Johnson, and Anne Foner. 1972. Aging and Society, Volume III: A Sociology of Age Stratification. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.Google Scholar
  34. Rosow, Irving. 1963. “Adjustment of the Normal Aged.” Pp. 195–233 in Processes of Aging: Psychological and Social Perspectives, Volume 2, edited by R. H. Williams, C. Tibbitts, W. Donohue. New York: Atherton.Google Scholar
  35. ––  ––  ––. 1978. “What is a Cohort and Why?” Human Development 21:65–75.Google Scholar
  36. Rowe, John W. and Robert L. Kahn. 1987. “Human Aging: Usual and Successful.” Science 237(4811):143–49.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. ––  ––  ––. 1997. “Successful Aging.” The Gerontologist 37(4):433–40.Google Scholar
  38. ––  ––  ––. 1998. Successful Aging. New York: Pantheon Books.Google Scholar
  39. Ryder, Norman B. 1965. “The Cohort as a Concept in the Study of Social Change.” American Sociological Review 30(6):843–61.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Strauss, Anselm. 1959. Mirrors and Masks: The Search for Identity. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
  41. van Gennep, Arnold. 1908 [1960]. The Rites of Passage. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer New York 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Richard A. SetterstenJr.
    • 1
  • Jacqueline L. Angel
  1. 1.Department of Human Development and Family SciencesOregon State UniversityCorvallisUSA

Personalised recommendations