Gero 530: Life Span Developmental Sociology Gero Auditorium 2: 00 4: 50 pm tuesdays Spring 2015

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Gero 530: Life Span Developmental Sociology

Gero Auditorium 2:00 - 4:50 PM Tuesdays

Spring 2015

Instructor Teaching Assistant/Instructor

George Shannon, MSG, Ph.D. Alison Balbag

Office: Gerontology Rm. 231 Email:

Office Hours: Tuesdays 1-2 PM (by appointment) Office Hours: by appointment

Cell Phone/Text: (323) 821-6813

Course Description and Objectives

This course is an introduction to the sociological study of aging and adult development. The course is focused on aging from a life course perspective, and it is primarily concerned with how the adult life course is shaped by social context and relationships in conjunction with individual characteristics and the inevitable consequences of the choices we make. During the semester, we will examine how the aging process is related to social institutions such as the family, the economy, and the political system. I will present the chapters in the Moody text each week, with a brief narration in PowerPoint, and post them in Blackboard in the Moody Presentations Section.

This course has four primary goals:
1. To facilitate an understanding of basic concepts and theories in the sociology of aging and view aging from an interdisciplinary perspective

2. To provide students with knowledge of the aging process, and an understanding of how the life course trajectories of individuals may be influenced by personal choices and social context.

3. To give students a better understanding of the major controversies associated with aging, as well as a balanced view of the differing perspectives on these controversies.

4. To give students the opportunity to understand themselves and other persons as they age in the context of a changing society.

The right way to do things is not to try to persuade people you're right, but to challenge them to think it through for themselves.” -- Noam Chomsky

Course Materials

Students will be required to purchase the following books for this course:

Text: Moody, Harry R. & Sasser, Jennifer R. (2015). Aging: Concepts and Controversies. (8th Ed.).

Text: Sarton, May. (1973). As We Are Now. New York: Norton & Company, Inc.

Both of these books are available online and at the USC bookstore.

The additional course readings will be available online through Blackboard. Links to all required articles will be provided on Blackboard under the heading “All Assignments”.

Course Expectations

All readings should be done before the class for which they have been assigned. As this class will depend heavily on presentations and group discussion, your active participation will be the basis of many of our classes. It is essential that you attend every class fully prepared, having read and thought through the assigned material so that you are able to fully participate in class discussions. The success of this class is dependent on everyone's participation.
Course Requirements

Participation and Attendance: Participation in class discussions, for in-class students is mandatory and serves as a tool for peer learning and professional development. It is important to note that students who are registered for the in-class version of the course are required to attend class – it is not acceptable to view lectures online in lieu of attendance. In the interest of fairness, in-class students will be graded for class participation in much the same way as online students are graded in the discussion forums. Each student must make a minimum of three comments or observations relating to in-class topics or points will be deducted. Any student who is unable to participate in class discussions (I will meet with student to determine eligibility for this option) will have the option of participating in online discussions each week, but must, in addition to attending class, make a minimum of three contributions to the discussions. Absence without prior notification will be noted and no points will be given for any week of unexcused absence. Each week of class participation will be graded separately at 10 points per week X 15 weeks.

Eclass discussions: In addition, for online students, discussion questions will be assigned each week from the concepts and controversy readings in the Moody text. In the discussion section, there will be three questions posed; students will be expected to provide a minimum of three responses or original comments per week. These responses and comments should add to the discussion and provide some new perspective or insights into the material. Alternative questions are welcome. Each week will be graded separately at 10 points per week for 15 weeks.
Abstracts from required readings: All students will sign up for presentations using the signup sheet contained in the Gero 530 folder on Google Drive. All students should have access to this folder and be able to modify it to include your names in the specific dates that are available at the time you open the drive folder. You may negotiate with a classmate if you have a conflict that requires your presenting on a specific date, that has already been taken – do not arbitrarily change a name/date that has been taken. Abstract presentations should be only 10-12 slides in length and take about 10-15 minutes. In-class students will present their introductions and abstract presentations live. Please bring handouts of your abstract for all in-class students, as well as post them in the all assignments/abstracts section of Blackboard.

Online students will present their Class introductions (please send a video, with sound, of your introduction to play in the first class) and, subsequently, post their written abstracts and abstract presentations on Blackboard in the Assignments section. You will develop these presentations using video cams and YouTube or another video media (narrated PowerPoints, Skype, Google Hang Out, e.g.). If there are conflicts along the way that cause you to change your schedule, you may change your presentation day to accommodate an emergency situation, but you must contact the individual who is scheduled to present at the time you want to present and work that out among yourselves. You must communicate your issue, if possible, two weeks in advance of your originally scheduled presentation, to allow time for alternative abstract presentation times. The final abstract presentation schedule will be completed before the 2nd week of class and left open in Google Drive for the remainder of the semester.

Book Assignment: In this assignment, students will be required to read the book “As We Are Now.” You will be expected to write a 5-7-page analysis of the book using the life-course framework. This will not just be a review of the material. This is your opportunity to relate the issues and circumstances in the story to material covered in class. To accomplish this, you must analyze the context of this woman’s life, using the life-course framework, combined with other relevant class material, as she struggles to survive in a situation that quickly develops to a level that she finds intolerable. The following are examples of the types of questions that you must ask yourself. These are suggestions; you will have many more questions of your own.

  • What are the issues she confronts?

  • What are the family, social, and emotional factors that lead to her final act of rebellion?

  • How might she have fared today…are there safeguards in place to prevent this from happening?

Final Paper: The final paper for this course involves three separate assignments.

Students will be required to:

    1. Turn in a one page description of their chosen topic for approval by the instructor,

    2. Submit a preliminary bibliography containing at least 10 sources for the final paper,

    3. Write a 10-12 page (not counting references or addenda, if addenda are included) research paper, with APA style citations, that analyzes and discusses a topic covered in the course (e.g., cumulative disadvantage reflected in SES, over the life course).
    4. Again, the paper will be 10 – 12 pages (not counting reference page(s) in APA styles) related to topics discussed in class, including any class materials (research articles or the Moody text).

Grading/Due Dates:




Article abstract/presentations


75 points

Written abstract

25 points

Abstract presentation

50 points

Class Participation/online discussions


150 points

Book Assignment


100 points

Research Paper total

Due Dates:

175 points



25 points



25 points



125 points

Total points for semester

500 points

Statement for Students with Disabilities

Any student requesting academic accommodations based on a disability is required to register with Disability Services and Programs (DSP) each semester. A letter of verification for approved accommodations can be obtained from DSP. Please be sure the letter is delivered to me (or to TA) as early in the semester as possible. DSP is located in STU 301 and is open 8:30 a.m.–5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. Website and contact information for DSP:, (213) 740-0776 (Phone), (213) 740-6948 (TDD only), (213) 740-8216 (FAX)

Statement on Academic Integrity

USC seeks to maintain an optimal learning environment. General principles of academic honesty include the concept of respect for the intellectual property of others, the expectation that individual work will be submitted unless otherwise allowed by an instructor, and the obligations both to protect one’s own academic work from misuse by others as well as to avoid using another’s work as one’s own. All students are expected to understand and abide by these principles. SCampus, the Student Guidebook, ( or contains the University Student Conduct Code (see University Governance, Section 11.00), while the recommended sanctions are located in Appendix A.

Emergency Preparedness/Course Continuity in a Crisis

In case of a declared emergency if travel to campus is not feasible, USC executive leadership will announce an electronic way for instructors to teach students in their residence halls or homes using a combination of Blackboard, teleconferencing, and other technologies.

Weekly Class Schedule Spring 2014

Week 1. January 13: Course Introduction/Overview.

Class 1 Introductions

Content for discussions (both in class and online discussions). In class students will read the online discussion introductions from Blackboard, so be sure they are up before class.

  1. Name

  2. Year in school

  3. Interests

  4. Plans for Career

  5. Expectations for class

Video on Aging: Time 11:38.

Week 2. January 20: Moody Basic Concepts I: A Life Course Perspective/Theories of Aging

Articles for student presentations

  1. Bengtson, V.L., Elder, G.H., Jr., & Putney, N.M. (2005). The life course perspective on aging: linked lives, timing and history.” In M. Johnson, V. L. Bengtson, P. Coleman, & T. Kirkwood, (Eds.), The Cambridge Handbook of Age and Ageing. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  2. Pearlin & Skaff (1996). Stress and the life course: a paradigmatic alliance. The Gerontologist, 36, 239-247.

  3. Elder, G.H. (1994). Time, human agency, and social change: perspectives on the life course. Social Psychology Quarterly, 57, 4-15.
  4. Braveman, P. & Barclay C. 2009. Health disparities beginning in childhood: a life-course perspective. Pediatrics, 124, S163-S175. doi 10.1542/peds.2009-1100D

Week 3. January 27: Moody Controversy 1: Does Old Age Have Meaning?

Articles for student presentations

  1. Morrow-Howell, N., Hinterlong, J., Rozario, P.A., & Tang, F. (2003). Effects of volunteering on the well-being of older adults. Journal of Gerontology: Social Sciences, 58B, S137-S145.

  2. Flood, M. T. Nies, M. A., & Seo, D.-C. (2010). Successful aging: selected indicators in a southern sample. Home Health Care Management Practice, 22(2), 111-115.

  3. Dillaway, H. E. & Byrnes, M. B. (2009).Reconsidering Successful aging: a call for renewed and expanded academic critiques and conceptualizations. Journal of Applied Gerontology, 28(6), 702-722.

  4. Gruenewald, T.L., Liao, D.H., & Seeman, T.E. (2012). Contributing to others, contributing to oneself: perceptions of generativity and health in later life. The Journals of Gerontology B, 10.1093/geronb/gbs034

  5. Tornstam, L. (1997). “Gerotranscendence: The contemplative dimension of aging”. Journal of Aging Studies, 11, pp. 143-155.

Week 4. February 3: Moody Controversy 2: Why Do Our Bodies Grow Old?

Articles for student abstract presentations
  1. Hayflick, L. 1984. When does aging begin? Research on Aging, 6(1), 99-103. DOI: 10.1177/0164027584006001005

  2. Lafontaine, C. (2009) Regenerative Medicine’s Immortal Body: From the Fight against Ageing to the Extension of Longevity Body Society December vol. 15 no. 4 53-71

  3. McCluster, C. & Gardiner, D. M. The Axolotl Model for Regeneration and Aging Research: A Mini-Review. 2011. Gerontology. 57:565–571 DOI: 10.1159/000323761

  4. Olshansky, S.J., Hayflick, L., & Carnes, B.A. (2002). Position statement on human aging. Journal of Gerontology: Biological Sciences, 57A, B292–B297 Ryff, C. & Singer, B. Special Issue I 2005. Social environments and the genetics of aging: advancing knowledge of protective health mechanisms. Journals of Gerontology, 60B, 12–23.

  5. Ryff, C. & Singer, B. Special Issue I 2005. Social environments and the genetics of aging: advancing knowledge of protective health mechanisms. Journals of Gerontology, 60B, 12–23.

Why can't we grow new body parts? Alan Russell on Time 19:26

Week 5. February 10: Moody Controversy 3: Does Intellectual Functioning Decline With Age?

Articles for student abstract presentations
  1. Miller LJ. Myers A., Prinzi L., & Mittenberg W. (2009). Changes in intellectual functioning associated with normal aging. Archives of Clinical Neuropsychology. 24(7):681-8.

  2. Salthouse, T. • 2003. Memory aging from 18 to 80. Alzheimer Disease Association Disorder, 17(3), 162-166.

  3. Randal, W. L. 2010. The narrative complexity of our past: In praise of memory’s sins. Theory & psychology, 20(2), 147–169 Doi: 10.1177/0959354309345635

  4. Zelinski, E., Dalton, S. & Hindin, S. S2011. Cognitive changes in healthy older adults. Generations, 35(2), 13-20.

  5. Ballard, J. (2010). Forgetfulness and older adults: concept analysis. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 66(6), 1409-1419.

Week 6. February 17: Moody Basic Concepts II: Aging, Health Care, and Society

Articles for student presentations

  1. Vladeck, B. C. & Firman, J. P. Jul 1983. The aging of the population and health services. The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 468, 132-148.

  2. Hayward, M. & Zhang, Z. (2001). Demography of Aging.” Ch. 4 in R. H. Binstock & L.K. George (Eds.), Handbook of Aging and the Social Sciences: 5th edition,
  3. Crimmins, E.M., Hayward, M.D., Hagedorn, A., Saito, Y., & Brouard, N. (2009). Change in Disability-free Life Expectancy for Americans 70 Years Old and Older.” Demography, 46, 627-646.

  4. Hayward, M. D., Miles, T. P., Crimmins, E. M., & Yang, Y. (2000). The significance of socioeconomic status in explaining the racial gap in chronic health conditions American Sociological Review, 65: 910-931.

YouTube: Aging in Japan Time 14:10
Week 7. February 24: Moody Controversy 4: Should We Ration Health Care for Older People?

Articles for student presentations

  1. Rosenblatt, L. & Harwitz, D. 1999. Fairness and rationing implications of medical necessity decisions. The American journal of Managed Care, 12(2), 1525-1531.

  2. Callahan, D. (Summer, 2011). Cost and End-of-Life-Care: End-of-Life Care: A Philosophical or Management Problem? J.L. Med. & Ethics, 114.

  3. Buyx, A., Friedrich, D., & Schöne-Seifert, B. (2011). Rationing by clinical effectiveness. BMJ, 342:d54.

  4. Dey, I. & Frazer, N. (November 2000). Age-Based Rationing in the Allocation of Health Care. J Aging Health 12: 511-537,

Week 8. March 3: Moody Controversy 5: Should Families Provide for Their Own?

Articles for student presentations
  1. Gans, D., & Silverstein, M. (2006) Norms of filial responsibility for aging parents across time and generations. Journal of Marriage and Family, 68, 961-976.

  2. Kosberg, J.I., Kaufman, A.V., Burgio, L.D., Leeper, J.D., & Fei Sun. 2007. Family caregiving to those with dementia in rural Alabama: racial similarities and differences. Journal of Aging Health, 19(1), 3-21.

  3. Hank, K. & Buber, I. (2009). Grandparents caring for their grandchildren: findings from the 2004 survey of health, ageing, and retirement in Europe. Journal of Family Issues, 30, 53-73.

  4. Chan, A., Malhotra, C., Malhotra, R., Rush, A., & Østbye, T. (2013). Health Impacts of Caregiving for Older Adults With Functional Limitations: Results From the Singapore Survey on Informal Caregiving. Journal Of Aging & Health, 25(6), 998-1012.

  5. Silverstein, M., & Bengtson, V. L. (1997). Intergenerational solidarity and the structure of adult child-parent relations in American families. American Journal of Sociology, 103, 429-460.

Week 9. March 10: Moody Controversy 6: Should Older People Be Protected From Bad Choices?

Articles for student presentations

  1. Amstadter, A.B., Begle, A.M., Cisler, J.M., Hernandez M.A., Muzzy W., & Acierno R. 2010. Prevalence and correlates of poor self-rated health in the United States: the national elder mistreatment study. American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 18(7), 615-23.
  2. Strasser, S. & Fulmer, T. 2007. The clinical presentation of elder neglect: what we know and what we can do. Journal of the American Psychiatric Nurses Association, 12(6), 340-349. DOI: 10.1177/1078390306298879

  3. Dannefer, D. (2003). Cumulative advantage/disadvantage and the life course: Cross-fertilizing age and social science theory. Journal of Gerontology: Social Sciences, 58B, S327-S337.

  4. San Filippo, S. M., Reiboldt, W., White, B. & Hails, J. 2007. Perceptions of Elderly Self-Neglect: A Look at Culture and Cohort. Family and Consumer Sciences Research Journal, 35, 215-231

  5. Crimmins, E.M., Kim, J.K., & Seeman, T.E. (2009). Poverty and biological risk: The earlier “aging” of the poor. Journal of Gerontology: MEDICAL SCIENCES, 64A, 286-292.

March 17: ---Spring Break---
Week 10 March 24: Moody Controversy 7: Should People Have the Choice to End Their Lives?

Articles for student presentations

  1. Curlin, F.A., Nwodim, C. Vance, J. L., Chin, M.H., and Lantos, J.D. 2008.Kosberg…Family caregiving: us physicians’ religious and other objections to physician-assisted suicide, terminal sedation, and withdrawal of life support. American Journal of Hospice & Palliative Medicine, 25(2), 112-120.

  2. Wink, P., & Dillon, M. 2002. Spiritual Development Across the Adult Life Course: Findings From a Longitudinal Study. Journal of Adult Development, 9(1), 79-94.
  3. Krause, N. (2003). Religious meaning and subjective well-being in late life.” Journals of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences, 58B: S160.

  4. Finlay, G. & George, R. (2011). Legal physician-assisted suicide in Oregon and The Netherlands: evidence concerning the impact on patients in vulnerable groups another perspective on Oregon’s data. J Med Ethics 37:171-174.

Week 11. March 31: Moody Basic Concepts III: Social and Economic Outlook for an Aging Society


Articles for student presentations

  1. Polivka, L. 2011. Neoliberalism Postmodern of Aging. Journal of Applied Gerontology, 30(2), 173 –184. Doi:: 10.1177/0733464810385919

  2. Motel-Klingebiel, A., Tesch-Roemer, C., & von Kondratowitz, H-J. 2005. Welfare states do not crowd out the family: evidence for mixed responsibility from comparative analyses. Ageing & Society, 25, 863–882.

  3. Binstock, R.H. (2005). Old-age policies, politics, and ageism. Generations, 29, 73-78.

  4. Connidis, I.A. (2003). Bringing outsiders in: Gay and lesbian family ties over the life course. In S. Arber, K. Davidson & J. Ginn (Eds.), Gender and Aging: New Directions (pp. 79-94).

  5. Burr, J. A., Mutchler, J.E. & Caro, F.G. (2007). Productive activity clusters among middle-aged and older adults: Intersecting forms and time commitments. The Journals of Gerontology, 62B: pp. S267.

Week 12. April 7: Moody Controversy 8: Should Age or Need Be the Basis for Entitlement?

Articles for student presentations

  1. Stapleton, D. C., O'Day, B. L., Livermore G. A., & Imparato A.J. (2006). Dismantling the Poverty Trap: Disability Policy for the Twenty-First Century. The Milbank Quarterly, 84(4), 701-732.

  2. Glasgow, N. 1993. Poverty among rural elders: trends, context, and directions for policy. Journal of Applied Gerontology, 12, 302-319.

  3. Kingson, E. R. 1994. Testing the boundaries of universality: what's mean? what's not? The Gerontologist 34 (6): 736-742.

  4. Grenier, A. & Hanley, J. March 2007. Older women and ‘frailty’: aged, gendered and embodied resistance. Current Sociology, 55, 211-228.

Week 13. April 14: Moody Controversy 9: What Is the Future for Social Security?


Articles for student presentations

  1. Gregory, J., Bethell, T., Reno, V., & Veghte. B. (2010). Strengthening Social Security for the Long Run. Washington, D. C.: National Academy of Social Insurance.

  2. Seipel, M. September 2013. Social security: strengthen not dismantle..Journal of Sociology & Social Welfare, XL(3), 69-84.

  3. Quadagno, J. & Street, D. (2006). Recent Trends in U.S. Social Welfare Policy: Minor Retrenchment or Major Transformation?” Research on Aging, 28: 303-316.

  4. Williamson, J.B., McNamara, T.K., & Howling, S.A. (2003). Generational equity, generational interdependence and the framing of the debate over Social Security reform. Journal of Sociology & Social Welfare, 30, 3-14.

  5. Polivka, L. & Baozhen, L. 2013. The future of retirement security around the globe. Generations, retrieved January 6, 2015.

Week 14. April 21: Moody Controversy 10: Is Retirement Obsolete?

Articles for student presentations

  1. Hardy, M. A. (2002). The transformation of retirement in twentieth-century America: From discontent to satisfaction. Generations, 26: 9-17.

  2. Williamson, J.B. & McNamara, T.K. (2003). Interrupted trajectories and labor force participation: The effects of unplanned changes in marital and disability status. Research on Aging, 25, 87-121

  3. Kail, BL. (2011). Coverage or Costs: The role of health insurance in labor market reentry among early retirees. Journals of Gerontology B. 1-8. doi: 10.1093/geronb/gbr130.

  4. Johnson, R. W. 2011. Phased retirement and workplace flexibility for older adults : Opportunities and challenges. The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 638-68.

Week 15. April 28: Moody Controversy 11: Aging Boomers – Boom or Bust?

FINAL PAPER DUE between 4/28 and 5/8

Articles for student presentations

  1. Tingjian Yan, T., Silverstein, M., & Wilber, K.H. 2011. Does race/ethnicity affect aging anxiety in American baby boomers? Research on Aging, 33(4) 361–378.

  2. Brown, SL, Bulanda, Jr., & Lee, GR. (2005) The significance of nonmarital cohabitation: marital status and mental health benefits among middle-aged and older adults. Journals of Gerontology B, 60(1): S21-S29.

  3. Martin, L.G., Freedman, V.A., Schoeni, R.F., & Andreski, P.M. (2009). Health and functioning among baby boomers approaching 60. Journals of Gerontology B, 64(3), 369–377.

  4. Hallam, S., Creech, A,. Varvarigou, M., McQueen H., & Gaunt, H., 2013. Does active engagement in community music support the well-being of older people? Arts & Health: An International Journal for Research, Policy and Practice, 1-16. DOI:10.1080/17533015.2013.809369.

  5. Adams-Price, C. E., Turner, J. J. & Warren S. T. 2013. Comparing the future concerns of early wave baby boomers with the concerns of young-old adults. Journal of Applied Gerontology,XX(X), 1–21.

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