ERIC Number: ED243053
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1983-Nov-20
Reference Count: 0
Adaptation to Aging: The Maintenance of Self.
To examine the impact of old age upon an individual's sense of self we must look at the enduring self. An understanding of selfhood or self-consciousness can only be found by reference to the social activity of the individual. The interactional part of the self involves the individual in two forms of active social behavior, subject and object. The subjective form of self presents the self to others, while the objective form observes, interprets, and organizes reality as it is perceived. The interactional self experiences itself through three types of feedback loops: (1) nonsignificant reactive interactions; (2) self-awareness through role taking; and (3) inner consciousness of the objective self through external patterns of social interaction. The goal of the third level of feedback is adaptation to new social situations. In order for optimal development and maintenance of the self to occur a number of processes must operate throughout the lifespan. Two of these processes are role taking and social comparison. For the elderly, inaccurate role taking may occur due to a discrepancy between self-conception and social definitions. The social forces in an ageist society and the temporal dimension demand readjustment in self-conception. The response is an internal role taking in which the self in its prime is used as a referent. This internal role taking is a dynamic process that involves not only the conscious inner dialogue that produces awareness of self as object but also the interaction between self and former self. Ultimately, the degree of internal role taking varies from culture to culture according to the relative status of the elderly in different societies. Where old age is a valued status, role taking may remain largely external, using feedback from the environment. The concept of internal role taking can help clarify our understanding of the difficulties of socialization to a devalued position in old age. (BL)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Scientific Meeting of the Gerontological Society (36th, San Francisco, CA, November 17-22, 1983).