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Human Clocks

The Bio-Cultural Meanings of Age


Claudine Sauvain-Dugerdill, Henri Leridon and Nicholas Mascie-Taylor

Age is a complex cross-cutting notion for at least two reasons: the intricate interweaving of its biological and socio-cultural meanings and its dual significance as both a benchmark in an individual’s life course and a foundation for social structure.
This book offers new perspectives on age and ageing by combining achievements in the biological sciences and their different applications and interpretations in demography, anthropology, psychology and other pertinent disciplines. Thirty contributors from these various fields revisit the measures and the biological models of ageing, the borderline between normal and pathological ageing, the pertinence of chronological age as a benchmark along the life course, its interrelations with psychological development, with reproductive phases and other life events, the «normalizing» role ascribed by age classes and the risk of falling into ageism, the cross-cultural diversity and temporal changes of its meanings, the gender divide (real and perceived), as well as the rights that should be enjoyed at each age.
Contents: Claudine Sauvain-Dugerdil: Overview – Alan H. Bittles/Richard F. Brightwell: Measuring Biological Ageing – Kristen L. Ossa/Douglas E. Crews: Biological and Genetic Theories of the Process of Senescence throughout Life – Meredith Uttley/Michael H. Crawford: Biological Indicators of Functional Age: A Case Study – Anik de Ribaupierre/Laurence Poget/Francisco Pons: The Age Variable in Cognitive Developmental Psychology – Eva Lelièvre: Ages, Life Courses, Life Event History Analysis – Kenneth G. Manton/Anatoli I. Yashin: Inequalities of Life: Statistical Analysis and Modeling Perspectives – Darryl J. Holman/Kathleen A. O’Connor/James W. Wood: Age and Female Reproductive Function: Identifying the Most Important Biological Determinants – Margarita M. Carmenate Moreno/Antonio J. Martínez Fuentes/Sonia Catasús Cervera: Menopause: The Psychosocial Meanings of a Biological Transition – Paul Spencer: The Natural Substructure of Age Systems and the Social Construction of Ageing – Patrice Bourdelais/Vincent Gourdon: Demographic Categories Revisited. Age Categories and the Age of the Categories – Yvonne Preiswerk: Cultural and Social Perception of the Gender- and Age-based Relationships. Exemplarity of Societies in the Alpine Valleys of Switzerland – Máire Ní Bhrolcháin: The Age Difference between Partners: A Matter of Female Choice? – Gilles Pison/Patrick Ohadike: Errors and Manipulations in Age Assessment – Graciela Hierro: The Ethical and Legal Aspects of Age.