a1 Freie Universität Berlin, Institut für Soziologie, Garystr. 21, 1000 Berlin 33, W. Germany
The analysis of modern-age stratification systems must be based on the social organisation of work. This requires a theoretical approach that takes into account the structure of economic production, but also the fact that work is a meaningful activity of human beings within their life-world. The task therefore consists of integrating ‘materialist’ and ‘interpretive’ approaches to social reality. This integration is attempted in an examination of the special problems encountered by workers in the second half of their work life, as created by the ‘construction of ageing’ in the industrial firm. Existing approaches drawn from industrial sociology, stress structural features of the production process, whilst labelling theory stresses culturally induced age labels. Both are one-sided. A more comprehensive approach has to conceptualise the industrial firm as an actor with strategies based on economic rationality and as a life-world constituted by what is taken for granted by its members. The final section applies this framework to an empirical case study.
* Revised text of a paper presented to the 10th World Congress of Sociology (Research Committe on Ageing) August 1982, Mexico City.