Age constructs and life style in older age. PART I. Alternatives for Older Age Identity


  • Irina A. SHMERLINA Institute of Sociology RAS


senility (old age); age identification of senility; age self-identification


The aim of the study is to examine current trends in the field of social construction of an old age. At issue are the mass opinions on the time of old-age coming, the conditioning factors and socio-psychological consequences of the choice of one or another viewpoint on this subject. The object of the research is the Russians aged over 44 years. A phone survey was used for the data gathering, and the method of the discriminant analysis was used for statistical study. It is shown in the article that there is a revision of traditional views on senility in modern Russian society; this is due to the high degree of uncertainty when choosing the corresponding criteria. There are two competitive views on senility in the public consciousness of Russians: the first one attributes the senility to the age of 60+; the second one refers to the age of 70+. What to choose between them is defined by the age of the person, gender, territory, financial well-being, and education. Women, city dwellers, highly educated and financially successful citizens are inclined to put off the senility till later years unlike their social "antipodes". It is shown that the choice of a starting point of senility is different according to the life style at advanced age and per se a separate, independent factor of aging.