The Fourth Age: “Real” Old Age?

Wednesday, 13 July 2016: 10:45-12:15
Location: Hörsaal BIG 1 (Main Building)
RC11 Sociology of Aging (host committee)

Language: English

The concept of the fourth age essentially embodies all the fears of ageing. Ageing brings frailty, helplessness, and loss of autonomy. For an active individual in the third age, people in the fourth age are “the others”. The fourth age is typically studied in the context of health care provision and its quality; the sociological viewpoint is missing. Furthermore, the fourth-age population is seriously unrepresented in research. 
Various definitions of the beginning of the fourth age use different principles such as chronological age or population structure. Laslett characterized the fourth age not by chronological age, but as the period of final infirmity, decline, and death. Other authors define the fourth age as a social construct, a set of assumptions about the dependence and indignity of true old age. The fourth age thus resembles a “black hole”, represented by the loss of agency and control.
In addition, health, similarly to gender, is a significant determinant of one’s fourth age. Typically, women live longer than men but in worse health, according to both subjective and objective measurements of health status.
In our session, we invite contributions focusing on the identification of the fourth age and the everyday experiences of fourth agers. Critical reviews of active ageing in the context of the fourth age are especially welcome. Submitted papers could also cover the following themes: gender diversity in the fourth age, identity in the fourth age, declining health in the fourth age, etc.
Session Organizer:
Marcela PETROVA KAFKOVA, Masaryk University, Czech Republic
Ageing As an Increasing Uncertainty
Marcela PETROVA KAFKOVA, Masaryk University, Czech Republic; Lucie GALCANOVA, Masaryk University, Office for Population Studies, Czech Republic
Sacred and Segregated: Women of the Fourth Age in Turkey
Berfin VARISLI, Maltepe University, Turkey
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