Society predetermines a specific life course for each person of their community. Missing any stage of this course is detrimental to the development of the human life. But not all societies have these stages of life; ergo different cultures define stages differently.
The stages of the life course are childhood, adolescence, adulthood, young adulthood and middle adulthood, old age and death. Society thinks of childhood as the first twelve years of life. In most cultures it is known as the time of autonomy from the weight of the grown-up world. But in other societies, such as Taiwan and Indonesia, childhood is seen as another occasion to send someone to work. The children do not have a normal childhood life of playing house and Barbie’s; instead they are in factories making shoes for approximately fifty cents an hour. In our society, ‘our concept of childhood is grounded in significant biological differences that set the young from the old’ (Macionis & Gerber, 2002).
The next stage of the life course is adolescence. This is the time where kids are in between childhood and adulthood. The preteen and teenage years comprise the stage of life when young people establish some independence and learn specialized skills required for adulthood (Macionis & Gerber, 2002). Adolescence is related with social and emotional confusion; young people have conflicts with their parents, and try to develop their own sense of identity. Adolescence is a product of culture. A study that was done in the 1920’s by Margaret Mead on the Samoan Islands shows that there was little stress among teenagers; their children appeared to move easily into adult standing. Our society, however, defines childhood and adulthood more in opposing terms, making transition between the two stages of life more difficult (Macionis & Gerber, 2002). The experience of adolescence also varies according to social standing and background.
Following adolescence comes adulthood which is made up of young adulthood and middle adulthood. ‘Adulthood is the period during which most of life’s accomplishments typically occur, including pursuing careers and raising families’ (Macionis & Gerber, 2002). Young adulthood goes from age twenty to about age forty. This is generally a time of engaging in many goals set earlier ...
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... & Gerber 2002). On the other hand, the prevalence of depression & dementia in Japan may be lower than in the West, which implies that culture may exert a protective influence (Dein & Huline-Dickens, 1997). Social isolation may be less likely in the Japanese culture because children often live with their elderly parents; whereas in Canada, elderly parents are often housed in nursing homes or assisted living accommodations.
AFS. (2000). Where in the World. Retrieved April 5, 2003, from http://www.afs.org.au/
Dein, S. & Huline-Dickens, S. (1997). Cultural aspects of aging and psychopathology. Aging-and-Mental-Health, 1(2)112-120.
Macionis, J.J & Gerber, L.M (2002). Sociology (4th ed.) Toronto, Ontario: Prentice Hall.
Masud, Chika. (1999) Elderly Welfare in Japan. Retrieved April 5, 2003, from http://user
Rosenberg, Matt. (2000). World Life Expectancy Chart. Retrieved April 5, 2003, from
Traphagan, J.W. (2000). Reproducing elder male power through ritual performance in Japan. Journal of Cross Cultural Gerontology, 15(2)81-97.
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