Skip to ContentGo to accessibility pageKeyboard shortcuts menu
OpenStax Logo
Introduction to Sociology 2e

Key Terms

Introduction to Sociology 2eKey Terms

activity theory
a theory which suggests that for individuals to enjoy old age and feel satisfied, they must maintain activities and find a replacement for the statuses and associated roles they have left behind as they aged
age stratification theory
a theory which states that members of society are stratified by age, just as they are stratified by race, class, and gender
discrimination based on age
baby boomers
people in the United States born between approximately 1946 and 1964
people 100 years old or older
a group of people who share a statistical or demographic trait
continuity theory
a theory which states that the elderly make specific choices to maintain consistency in internal (personality structure, beliefs) and external structures (relationships), remaining active and involved throughout their elder years
dependency ratio
the number of nonproductive citizens (young, disabled, elderly) to productive working citizens
disengagement theory
a theory which suggests that withdrawing from society and social relationships is a natural part of growing old
elder abuse
the act of a caretaker intentionally depriving an older person of care or harming the person in their charge
exchange theory
a theory which suggests that we experience an increased dependence as we age and must increasingly submit to the will of others, because we have fewer ways of compelling others to submit to us
filial piety
deference and respect to one’s parents and ancestors in all things
a medical specialty focusing on the elderly
a type of social structure wherein the power is held by a society’s oldest members
a field of science that seeks to understand the process of aging and the challenges encountered as seniors grow older
the idea that as people age, they transcend limited views of life they held in earlier times
a psychological, emotional, and social response to the feelings of loss that accompanies death or a similar event
healthcare that treats terminally ill people by providing comfort during the dying process
life course
the period from birth to death, including a sequence of predictable life events
life expectancy
the number of years a newborn is expected to live
modernization theory
a theory which suggests that the primary cause of the elderly losing power and influence in society are the parallel forces of industrialization and modernization
physician-assisted suicide
the voluntary use of lethal medication provided by a medical doctor to end one’s life
primary aging
biological factors such as molecular and cellular changes
secondary aging
aging that occurs due to controllable factors like exercise and diet
selective optimization with compensation theory
a theory based on the idea that successful personal development throughout the life course and subsequent mastery of the challenges associated with everyday life are based on the components of selection, optimization, and compensation
the aging process, including biological, intellectual, emotional, social, and spiritual changes
social gerontology
a specialized field of gerontology that examines the social (and sociological) aspects of aging
subculture of aging theory
a theory that focuses on the shared community created by the elderly when they are excluded (due to age), voluntarily or involuntarily, from participating in other groups
people 110 of age or older
the systematic study of death and dying
Order a print copy

As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.


This book may not be used in the training of large language models or otherwise be ingested into large language models or generative AI offerings without OpenStax's permission.

Want to cite, share, or modify this book? This book uses the Creative Commons Attribution License and you must attribute OpenStax.

Attribution information
  • If you are redistributing all or part of this book in a print format, then you must include on every physical page the following attribution:
    Access for free at
  • If you are redistributing all or part of this book in a digital format, then you must include on every digital page view the following attribution:
    Access for free at
Citation information

© Feb 9, 2022 OpenStax. Textbook content produced by OpenStax is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License . The OpenStax name, OpenStax logo, OpenStax book covers, OpenStax CNX name, and OpenStax CNX logo are not subject to the Creative Commons license and may not be reproduced without the prior and express written consent of Rice University.