The Journey of Life: A Cultural History of Aging in America

Thomas R. Cole, Author
Thomas R. Cole, Author Cambridge University Press $39.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-521-41020-5
Reviewed on: 02/03/1992
Release date: 02/01/1992
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Cole, an associate professor at the University of Texas, here explores the evolution of societal attitudes toward aging, gender and familial ideals from antiquity to the present, discussing both political and philosophical influences. He devotes a major portion of this excellent and accessible scholarly study to examining a wide variety of religious beliefs, many of which envision life as a spiritual pilgrimage. However, with the rise of secular individualism, today's ``scientific management'' of aging has prolonged the life span, Cole observes, and liberated older men and women of many burdens and duties. On the other hand, he contends, the elderly have been deprived of their traditional cultural roles, special functions and positions in society. Furthermore, he notes, with a youth-oriented culture that tends to consider aging a chronic disease, the spiritual aspects of growing old and of death as natural parts of the life cycle have been slighted. Illustrations. (Jan.)
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