Event Title

Toward a Discourse Shift in Social Gerontology: From Successful Aging to Harmonious Aging

Event Type

Research

Start Date

7-3-2012 12:00 PM

End Date

7-3-2012 1:00 PM

Keywords

Critique of successful aging, Discourse shift, Harmonious aging, Cross-cultural theory

Description

Successful aging, though controversial, is used as an overarching conceptual framework in social gerontology. In this theory critique, the discourse of successful aging is identified as problematic with respect to four dimensions. First, successful aging is ageist in nature, and it produces a disharmony between body and mind. Second, successful aging,with the emphasis on quantifiable activities driven by the “busy ethic,” overlooks the deeper concern of quality experience. Third, the capitalist and consumerist components of successful aging are under-addressed. Fourth, successful aging is a discourse developed upon Western (specifically American) values and thus may not readily apply to other cultures.

Harmonious aging, as proposed, is inspired by the Yin–Yang philosophy. Harmony refers to the balance based on differences instead of uniformity. This new discourse aims to recognize the challenges and opportunities of old age itself, ease the tension between activity and disengagement theories, heal the integrity of body and mind, and emphasize the interdependent nature of human beings. The call for the discourse shift attempts to promote intellectual exploration of what constitutes a good old age and to capture more cross-cultural diversities in the context of global aging. This theoretical endeavor is important to change the status quo of gerontology as being “data rich but theory poor,” and to contribute to cross-cultural gerontological research, education and communication.

Comments

Cite as: Liang, Jiayin and Baozhen Luo. "Toward a Discourse Shift in Social Gerontology: From Successful Aging to Harmonious Aging." Journal of Aging Studies, vol. 26, no. 3, Aug. 2012, pp. 327-334. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1016/j.jaging.2012.03.001.

 
Mar 7th, 12:00 PM Mar 7th, 1:00 PM

Toward a Discourse Shift in Social Gerontology: From Successful Aging to Harmonious Aging

Successful aging, though controversial, is used as an overarching conceptual framework in social gerontology. In this theory critique, the discourse of successful aging is identified as problematic with respect to four dimensions. First, successful aging is ageist in nature, and it produces a disharmony between body and mind. Second, successful aging,with the emphasis on quantifiable activities driven by the “busy ethic,” overlooks the deeper concern of quality experience. Third, the capitalist and consumerist components of successful aging are under-addressed. Fourth, successful aging is a discourse developed upon Western (specifically American) values and thus may not readily apply to other cultures.

Harmonious aging, as proposed, is inspired by the Yin–Yang philosophy. Harmony refers to the balance based on differences instead of uniformity. This new discourse aims to recognize the challenges and opportunities of old age itself, ease the tension between activity and disengagement theories, heal the integrity of body and mind, and emphasize the interdependent nature of human beings. The call for the discourse shift attempts to promote intellectual exploration of what constitutes a good old age and to capture more cross-cultural diversities in the context of global aging. This theoretical endeavor is important to change the status quo of gerontology as being “data rich but theory poor,” and to contribute to cross-cultural gerontological research, education and communication.