Building and advancing African gerontology

  • Monica Ferreira Editor, Southern African Journal of Geronotology


What has become clear over the years is what the building blocks of African gerontology are. What is also apparent is that the recurrent theme and argumentation of the majority of African gerontology papers is that of modernization theory, reflecting a macro level of analysis. Thus, the building blocks have tended to be urbanization, industrialization, erstwhile traditionalism, dissolution of the extended family, diminished kin support, loss of respect for elders, and so on. The followers of modernization theory, which has its origins in structural-functionalism, in African studies typically contend that numerous changes wrought by modernization render the elderly an extremely vulnerable group, whose situation is “abject,” Attempts are seldom made to work within other theoretical traditions - to consider, for example, how elderly individuals participate in their everyday lives, and how they create and maintain social meanings for themselves and others around them. Nor indeed do the majority of the researchers apparently invite older persons to articulate how they perceive their situations and their elderliness. Such latter perspectives reflect a micro level of analysis, which focusses on individual agency and social behaviour - within larger structures of society.


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