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Journal cover: International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy

International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy

ISSN: 0144-333X

Online from: 1981

Subject Area: Industry and Public Sector Management

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Aging agents: social gerontologists' imputations to old people

Document Information:
Title:Aging agents: social gerontologists' imputations to old people
Author(s):Neal King, (Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Virginia, USA), Toni Calasanti, (Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Virginia, USA)
Citation:Neal King, Toni Calasanti, (2009) "Aging agents: social gerontologists' imputations to old people", International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, Vol. 29 Iss: 1/2, pp.38 - 48
Keywords:Citizenship, Elderly people
Article type:Research paper
DOI:10.1108/01443330910934709 (Permanent URL)
Publisher:Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to illustrate the argument that scholars' imputations of agency serve modern professional/institutional purposes other than the refinement of testable theories.

Design/methodology/approach – Data include articles from twenty-first century issues of four gerontological journals. Content analysis involved coding articles for imputations of agency, constructivist analysis thereof, and the parties to whom authors directed their imputations.

Findings – Most authors rehearse theories of “structuration” and call for more imputations of agency to old people. They do this without imputing agency to privileged groups or to policy makers; and without settling theoretical question of how much agency people have or how scientists could demonstrate that. One article in ten provides constructivist critique.

Research limitations/implications – Patterns in imputations of agency in other scholarly realms (such as books) may support another interpretation.

Practical implications – Scholars should treat their imputations of agency as political activities and not refinements of testable theories. They position professional scholars as advocates for an oppressed group.

Originality/value – This paper provides a sociological context for interpreting routine imputations of agency in social scientific and humanist scholarship.

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