Age differentiation is the process through which people are placed in various status positions and perform roles based on how society views them; it ultimately creates age groupings.
Sociocultural and cohort historical perspective of Age Differentiation
Two broad theoretical perspectives—sociocultural and cohort-historical—and their complementing findings on age differentiation throughout the life course enrich the sociological literature on age.
The sociocultural perspective strongly emphasizes the social meaning of age and its contextual variations. While birth, puberty, and death are biological facts of life, their social meanings are social facts or constructions, as evidenced by the diverse ways in which age categories, grades, and classes are formed across societies.
Age differences are reflected in social norms, privileges, and rewards. Age grades are established by norms that serve as a foundation for self-definition and that outline acceptable conduct, duties, and time schedules. These norms may be generic throughout society or exclusive to institutional contexts.
Examining the life course, age cohorts, and associated age strata are conducted from a cohort historical viewpoint, which uses vital information and age as biological facts and social markers.
Chronological age is a rough indicator of life stage and aging, while birth year or admission into a specific system (such as the age of first marriage or high school graduation) places a person in a historical context as a member of a particular cohort.
Chronological age is a rough indicator of life stage and aging, while birth year or admission into a specific system (such as the age of first marriage or high school graduation) places a person in a historical context as a member of a particular cohort. Cohorts are not often socially accepted or normatively established categories, unlike normatively defined age divisions, even if they may be characterized by a shared mindset and unique behavioral style. Birth cohorts in social science have a wide range of ages depending on the availability of data and the analytical needs.