Ageing and Society



The seductiveness of agelessness


MOLLY ANDREWS a1c1
a1 Department of Human Relations, University of East London

Abstract

In recent years, many researchers in the study of ageing have adopted a terminology of ‘agelessness’. They argue that old age is nothing more than a social construct and that until it is eliminated as a conceptual category, ageism will continue to flourish. This article challenges this view, stating that the current tendency towards ‘agelessness’ is itself a form of ageism, depriving the old of one of their most hard-earned resources: their age. Specific theories of ageing (successful ageing, mask of ageing, continuity theory) are assessed in this light, and original data are presented as evidence of old age as a unique phase of the lifecycle replete with continued developmental possibilities.

(Accepted July 10 1998)


Key Words: old age; ageism; agelessness; life-span development.

Correspondence:
c1 Address for correspondence: Molly Andrews, University of East London, Department of Human Relations, Longbridge Road, Dagenham, Essex, RM8 2AS; e-mail: M.Andrews@uel.ac.uk