Date of Award
Master of Science (MS)
During the past twenty-five years the discipline of social gerontology has emerged as a major field of interest among sociologists. A number of theories concerning the social aspects of the aging process have been proposed, but few have been empirically tested.
The central concern of the present study was to conduct an empirical test of the subculture of the aging theory developed by Arnold M. Rose. The subculture of the aging theory proposed that there is a growing awareness among many older people that they are not merely members of a social category, but are members of a social group with common problems and a distinctive subculture. The major components of the aging subculture are a status system, a special set of values, aging self-conception, and aging group-consciousness.
The present study was conducted in a multi-story housing facility for low-income older people located in Southeast Kansas. The sample consisted of 81 respondents to a 44-item questionnaire. Twenty-two of the respondents were also interviewed. The questionnaire collected basic socio-demographic data and examined the components of the aging subculture. Morale was measured by the Kutner Morale Scale and alienation with the Middleton Alienation Scale. Aging group-consciousness was measured by six-item scale developed for the present study.
The questionnaire data were coded, transferred to 80 column IBM cards, and tabulated using a Fortran IV language computer program. The data were analyzed using the chi-square test of significance, the phi coefficient, and Pearson's C. Interview data supplemented the findings derived from the questionnaire.
An analysis of the data found that the status system in High Rise, as the facility was called in the present study, contained many distinct norms and values centered around social activity. In addition, a significant number of residents had come to view themselves as members of an emerging social group, with a desire to associate with other older people and with a concern for the political issues involving the aged. Those factors increased in their intensity with increased length of residence in High Rise.
Aging group-consciousness was found to be significantly associated with morale. That is, the higher the degree of aging group-consciousness, the higher the level of morale. The data supporting those findings were significant at the .02 level. It was concluded that the data presented supported the subculture of the aging theory.
The most important implication of the findings was that social activity may be only one component which might help to maintain a high morale level. Denial of chronological aging may lead to a decrease in the level of morale, and not to an increase in it.
Lane, William C., "The Subculture of the Aging: An Empirical Test" (1975). Electronic Theses & Dissertations. 226.