Age-Irrelevant Society

There was a time when age defined one’s place in the world. In fact, the term age norms is often applied to define various expectations over the life course. Age norms refer to the anticipated age at which people engage in specific activities, enter certain roles, and achieve various accomplishments. In some contexts, however, age remains relevant.

For example, in early parts of the lifespan, age can be used both as a developmental marker (e.g., to identify on-time or delayed development) and as markers for social structures (e.g., grades in school). However, longer life expectancies along with changing economies have challenged such assumptions. This entry reviews age norms and their changing nature, meaning, and relevance as they relate to multiple social structures across the lifespan, including ...

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