Definition and Explanation
Age stratification is a method that involves placing people in different groups based on their age. For instance, in Western countries, children and the elderly are mostly isolated from social life and considered generally incompetent. Age stratification in sociology refers to the hierarchical grouping of individuals by age within a community.
A population’s age distribution may significantly impact a variety of factors, including employment trends, social conventions, family patterns, governmental policies, and sometimes even health sectors.
Age stratification is not a constant phenomenon; it fluctuates through time, between cultures, and across people. Age stratification varies when a population’s age structure shifts. The age groups that individuals are classified by have altered due to the remarkable upward changes in life expectancy over the last two centuries.
The dynamic and complex social phenomena of stratification and the elusive personal trait of age are combined in age stratification.
Age stratification and American gerontologist Matilda White Riley
Age stratification is a conceptual framework for examining how people age over the course of their lives and what significance aging is accorded in a society. This framework was created in the 1970s by Matilda White Riley and her collaborators, and the phrase still carries her name.
This concept is a conceptual orientation that focuses on the people who make up the different age groups in society and the social institutions that influence those people’s behavior based on their age. It pays particular emphasis to how the experience of aging has changed through time and how connections across age groups have changed. This viewpoint demands that we acknowledge how heavily socially created human aging is. Moreover, this viewpoint has the significant consequence that aging processes may evolve.
Riley subsequently chose to refer to it as the age and society viewpoint due to the scope of the perspective and the frequently contradictory and many meanings of the primary term of stratification.
Age stratification in society may be seen, for example, in how individuals can be grouped into strata according to their chronological ages. The amount of people in a population who fall into each age group at any given moment is governed by historical trends in migration, fertility, and death.
The age stratification view acknowledges that socialization, which occurs together with allocation, happens continuously. That is to say, people constantly internalize social norms and develop the abilities necessary for their roles in the broader social system as they go about their daily lives.
The main focus of this model is on the procedures that social organizations use to match people within a given age range to the proper age roles. First, people are assigned positions suitable for their ages via allocation mechanisms, which are then utilized to reassign them when they enter new socially acceptable stages of their lives.
Riley’s description of the age stratification strategy has received criticism from two main groups. The first criticism is on the notion of stratification’s application, particularly how unclear and inconsistent it is. The second is a criticism of the model’s underlying functionalist assumptions.