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, aging
the change of properties that occurs in some metals after heat treatment or cold working


the chronological process of growing physically older. However, there is also a social dimension in which chronology is less important than the meanings attached to the process. Different cultural values and social expectations apply according to gender and age group, and therefore there are socially-structured variations in the personal experience of ageing.

EISENSTADT (Generation to Generation, 1964) studied the political role of age groups and argued that age stratification is an important stabilizing influence in societies where:

  1. two sets of values coexist within the social structure – the particularism of family ties and the universalism of the public division of labour (here age groups act as buffers between the public and the private domain and give members solidarity and support as well as orienting them to the adult world of work); and
  2. the opportunity for the young to have full participation in adult society is blocked by systems of KINSHIP and DESCENT (here the age group becomes the basis for status and also power struggles between the generations).

In DEMOGRAPHY the terms ageing society and youthful society are used to indicate the age composition of the population. A youthful society is one in which there is a preponderance of people in young age groups (under 15 years) because of a high BIRTH RATE and low LIFE EXPECTANCY. An ageing society is one in which reductions in the birth rate and greater longevity have resulted in a rising proportion of the population belonging to the older age groups. For example, CENSUS data for the UK shows that in 1911 men over 65 years and women over 60 years comprised 6.8% of the population, whereas in 1981 they comprised 17.1%.

The growing proportion of older people in the population, and the spread of early retirement, has led to age being perceived as a social problem. Older people are subject to negative stereotyping and diminished SOCIAL STATUS. Even academic discourse promotes negative imagery through such terms as ‘burden of dependency’ and ‘dependency ratio’, which refer to the number of economically inactive older people in relation to the number of economically active younger people whose labour provides the services consumed by the older generation. In the US, AGEISM has become a political issue through the emergence of movements, such as the Grey Panthers, determined to safeguard the citizen rights of older people and counter the negative imagery of old age promoted by the commercialization of youth. See also MIDLIFE CRISIS, YOUTH CULTURE.


British variant of aging.

aging, Brit. ageing

1. The progressive change in a chemical and physical material with increased age; in natural rubber and synthetic elastomers, usually marked by a deterioration caused by oxidation. Also see accelerated aging, age hardening, age softening.
2. The storing of varnish to improve clarity and gloss.
References in periodicals archive ?
The median age of diagnosis of CHL in the private healthcare sector was found to be 3.
Sinop is the city with the highest median age at 38.
The median age at first marriage last year was 31 for bridegrooms and 29 for brides, while the figures were 27 and 24 in 1981.
The median age of the population has been on the rise since 1995, when it was 38.
As the population aging is the process by which older individuals become a proportionally larger share of the total population (United Nations, 2001), median age of a society can be a good indicator of population aging.
Thirty-seven percent of Internet users aged 18 to 24 use Twitter or another service, up from 19 percent in December 2008, the study found, while the median age of a Twitter user is 31.
For example, the median age at first autism diagnosis ranged from 49 months in Utah to 66 months in Alabama, based on surveillance data for children who were 8 years old in 2002.
One reason for this difference was the higher median age of public-sector employees: About 75 percent of government employees were aged 35 or older, but 60 percent of private-sector employees were in this group.
Such research has consistently shown that immigration, even when run at high levels, has a minimal effect on the median age.
CBS lived up to its reputation as the oldest-skewing network, with an audience with a median age of 54, followed by ABC (50), NBC (49), Fox (44) and The CW (34), which is at the high end of its target demo, 18-34.
The median age of the Inuit population was 22 years, compared with 40 years for non-Aboriginal people.
Of the 16 children initially found to have the bacterial infection, the median age was 11, compared to 4 for the median age of all pediatric flu cases, and all were in good health before the illness but rapidly declined.