원문참고: KEY WORDS IN SOCIOCULTURAL GERONTOLOGY (W. ANDREW ACHENBAUM, STEVEN WEILAND, CAROLE HABER, 1996. SPRING PUBLISHING COMPANY)
in the early 1950s, gerontologists set out to attack the notion that old age was a period of life inherently charaterized by meaninglessness and a loss of purposeful roles.
the problem, havighurst and albrecht argued in OLDER PEOPLE (1953), was not old age itself. Rather, retiring from work, watching children mature and move away, losing friends, and losing interest in meaninful activities caused elderly individuals to experience a withdrawal from society and a concurrent feeling of uselessness.
Asserting that those who were able to maintain high social activity experienced contentment rather than loneliness or worthlessness, they argued that activity was the key to a meaningful old age. In the 1960s, this belief was used to counter the disengagement theory posited by Elaine Cumming and William Henry in GROWIING OLD (1961).
In his own analysis of the Kansas City Study on Human Development (that had been used by Cumming and Henry), havighurst and others argued that most people adjusted well to their social roles. Apparent decreases in social activity were the result of physical disability rather than a natural tendency to disengage.
In 1972, in the work of Lemon, Bengston, and Peterson, this often discussed belief became formally defined as the ACTIVITY THEORY of aging. Measuring the effect of formal and informal activities, as well as solitary and group endeavors, the gerontologists' central theorem asserted that "the greater the activity, the greater one's life satisfaction" (Lemon, Bengtson, & Peterson, 1972, p. 515).
While their findings of the impact of the varied types of activities were rather ambiguous, they concluded that the equivocal results may have reflected faulty data or the homogeneity of the sample. In starting a formal activity theory, they concluded that:
ACTIVITY PROVIDES VARIOUS ROLE SUPPORTS NECESSARY FOR REAFFIRMING ONE'S SELF-CONCEPT. THE MORE INTIMATE AND THE MORE FREQUENT THE ACTIVITY, THE MORE REINFORCING AND THE MORE SPECIFIC WILL BE THE ROLE SUPPORTS. ROLE SUPPORTS ARE NECESSARY FOR THE MAINTENANCE OF A POSITIVE SELF-CONCEPT WHICH IN TURN IS ASSOCIATED WITH HIGH LIFE SATISFACTION. (p. 515).
recently, however, gerontologists have come to question the soundness of the studies and the nature of the findings. Contemporary research has found that while individuals regret losses in activity as they age, they are able to accept decline and adjust satisfactorily to it. Although some want to stay involved in order to maintain their self-worth, they also desire to withdraw from commitments and pursue a more leisurely and contemplative lifestyle.
Despite the initial assertions of activity theorists, involvement and contentment do not always correspond.
Moreover, critics of the theory cite the implicit value judgment in the studies. Simply put, the theory advocates that to be active is superior to being inactive.
Reflection and withdrawal are judged less important than activity and motion; little emphasis is placed on the value of those who are frail or sedentary.
Finally, theo theory seems to more applicable to the young old and wealthy than to the old old and poor. it promotes the continuation of middle age as the expense of the biological limits of aging, and often fails to recognizes the social and medical limitations on continuing the activities of middle age.
Current debate over the activity theory reveals a heightened emphasis among scholars upon diversity among the aged.
Both the disengagement and activity theories had dictated a single root of contentment and personality development for the old.
Recent research emphasizes that both theories had some validity; there may be numerous paths to satisfaction among the old.
Atchley, R.C. Social Forces and Aging, 7th edition. (Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, Inc.), 1994.
Cumming E., & Henry, W. Growing Old (New York: Basic Books), 1961.
Havighurst, R., & albrecht, R. Older People. (New York: Longmans, Green), 1953.
Havighurst, R., Neugarten, B., & Tobin, S. Disengagement and Patterns of Aging. In B.L. Neugarten (Ed.), Middle Age and Aging (pp. 159-172). (Chicago: University of Chicago Press), 1968.
Lemon, B.W., Bengtson, V.L., & Peterson, J.A. An Exploration of the Activity Theory of Aging: Activity Types and Life Satisfaction Among In-Movers to a Retirement Community. Journal of Gerontology, 27: 511-523, 1972.
Longino, C.F. Jr., & Kart, C.S. Explicating Activity Theory: A Formal Replication, JOurnal of Gerontology, 37: 723-732, 1983.
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