Aging Societies: European and Global Challenges
The aging of modern societies, in both developed and developing countries, is a phenomenon which has been attracting scholarly attention for already many years. The consequences of the growing number of older persons in societies, as well as the increasing life expectancy are of interest not only to sociologists, demographers or policy makers, but also to employers, architects or marketers, who start to recognize the challenges and the chances of these deep and fast changes. This "longevity revolution", as described by Robert Butler, will irreversibly alter the social structure and the way to analyze societies. The aging of the populations, although being a global phenomenon, requires also a local analytical perspective in ordered to fully understand the different mechanisms of changes. The aging processes in western cultures have different characteristics and dynamics than those in other parts of the globe. In the course a European perspective on the aging societies will be provided, with a comparative analysis between Western and Central and Eastern European countries. Moreover, a look into global trends and problems of international concern will be delivered. In the course, the students will learn the concepts, theories, methodological approaches, as well as practical problems related to the sociological analysis of aging. The topics discussed in the seminar will include: the demographical causes of aging of the populations, the changing structure of the aging societies, transitions in the labour market and retirement systems, the intergenerational relations, the increasingly important cultural, political and consumerist dimensions of population aging, as well as the changes to family structure, intimate relations, and lifestyles.