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Aging as a Social Process

Course Code: SOCI 3345
Faculty: Humanities & Social Sciences
Department: Sociology
Credits: 3.0
Semester: 15
Learning Format: Lecture
Typically Offered: TBD. Contact Department Chair for more info.
course overview

This course explores the ways in which the process of aging is mediated by social structure and processes. The contemporary demographics of population aging in Canada will be explained with reference to historical and cultural examples. The influence of social institutions such as the family, media, work, and health care on the character and quality of aging is examined. The course will also discuss social policies with regard to aging in the contemporary Canadian environment.

Course Content

  1. Aging as a Social Process:  The Sociological Perspective of Aging
  2. The Demographics of Age:  Aging in Contemporary Canada
  3. The Social Context:  Historical Perspectives of Aging
  4. Culture and Aging
  5. Aging, Gender and Care-giving
  6. Social Theory and Approaches to Aging
  7. The Family and Age:  Care-giving and Evolving Roles
  8. Work, Retirement and Economic Security
  9. Health Care and Aging
  10. Community and Aging: Social Networks, Housing, and Transportation
  11. End of Life Issues
  12. Social Policy:  Aging Populations in Canada

Methods of Instruction

  • Lecture
  • Small group exercises
  • Class discussion
  • Computer lab work
  • Audio-visual materials
  • Guest speakers

Means of Assessment

Evaluation will take place in accordance with Douglas College policy. Evaluation will be based on course objectives and may include quizzes, exams, critical essays, literature reviews, term/research projects, oral presentations, multi-media presentations and a personal family and age project.  The specific evaluation criteria will be provided by the instructor at the beginning of the course.

An example of one evaluation scheme is:

Two mid-term exams  45%
One group project  20%
One research project  25%
One final quiz  10%
Total 100%

Learning Outcomes

At the completion of the course, the successful student will be able to:

  • Distinguish between chronological, biological and social aging;
  • Define social gerontology;
  • Define and give examples of aging across the life course;
  • Discuss the relationship between individual and population aging;
  • Contrast the concept of individual adaptation with macro sociological approaches to aging;
  • Provide examples of the ways in which aging is both a private and public issue;
  • Describe contemporary demographic trends with regards to aging in Canada;
  • Compare the Canadian demographic profile to global aging trends;
  • Discuss reasons for the current increase in aging populations;
  • Identify three major streams of sociological theory with regards to aging and give examples;
  • Identify key themes of research on the sociology of aging;
  • Describe what is meant by intergenerational transfers; provide examples at both private and public levels;
  • Identify social determinants of health with respect to aging;
  • Identify how aging is a gendered experience;
  • Compare several different cultural approaches to aging;
  • Describe the relationship of aging to kinship structure;
  • Identify familial factors that may influence the support of aging persons in later life;
  • Identify the ‘empty nest’ syndrome and describe its gendered and cultural variations;
  • Describe the ways in which economic forces are related to gender with respect to retirement;
  • Explain how labour force trends are relevant to retirement and aging;
  • Define and give examples of the ‘feminization of poverty’ with reference to age;
  • Explain the relationship between social participation and quality of life;
  • Identify the basis for social supports and discuss their relevance for aging populations;
  • Give examples of aging ‘in place’ and describe its benefits;
  • Define and provide examples of age-integrated and age-segregated environments;
  • Identify supports contributing to the care and well-being of older populations;
  • Give examples of the relevance of social policy to aging;
  • Discuss contemporary policy initiatives to support an aging Canadian population.

course prerequisites

SOCI 1125 (or 2nd year status and Instructor’s permission)

curriculum guidelines

Course Guidelines for previous years are viewable by selecting the version desired. If you took this course and do not see a listing for the starting semester/year of the course, consider the previous version as the applicable version.

course schedule and availability
course transferability

Below shows how this course and its credits transfer within the BC transfer system. 

A course is considered university-transferable (UT) if it transfers to at least one of the five research universities in British Columbia: University of British Columbia; University of British Columbia-Okanagan; Simon Fraser University; University of Victoria; and the University of Northern British Columbia.

For more information on transfer visit the BC Transfer Guide and BCCAT websites.


If your course prerequisites indicate that you need an assessment, please see our Assessment page for more information.