1. 0 Introduction Social stratification is not a new phenomenon; its roots extends far back into antiquity with some contending that archaeological evidence reveals that social stratification existed in Cro-Magnon society 10,000 or more years ago (Tattersall 1998:178). Social stratification may be based on many attributes; according to Arredondo Biological differences can produce, directly or indirectly, social stratification by factors such as age, gender, race, or socioeconomic status. Age stratification and ageism are very closely related; one cannot exist without the other.
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Age stratification separates people into three primary groups according to their age; the young, the old and the rest. Ageism is the process of systematic stereotyping or discrimination, takes over from there by being an enacted series of prejudices against a person or group based on their age, just as racism and sexism accomplish with skin colour and gender. Ageism allows the younger generations to see older people as different than themselves; thus they subtly cease to identify with their elders as human beings. This essay will argue that age stratification and ageism permeate in the Australian workplace. Age stratification is a serious issue that women struggle to overcome throughout most of recorded history and around the world. As Alan Wolfe observed in the “The Gender Question” (The New Republic, June 6: 27-34), “of all the ways that one group has systematically mistreated another, none is more deeply rooted than the way men have subordinated women. All other discrimination pale by contrast.
Gender inequality in the workplace is one of the biggest issues that have being overtly circulating through society for years and they are experienced in different types of welfare state such as, Economic independence, Balancing work and family balance a cross the life cycle and freedom from discrimination, harassment and violence. These three areas have been identified and found to be the key to achieving equality between women and men in Australia.
Old age is not a status we choose to become; it is a status that we inherit simply by the virtue of living, not dying. What is meant by ageism is that “You’re not important in society. ” When Robert Butler coined the word “ageism”, he defined it as “[a] process of systematic stereotyping or discrimination against people because they are old, just as racism and sexism accomplish with skin colour and gender. Ageism allows the younger generations to see older people as different than themselves; thus they subtly cease to identify with their elders as human beings. While ageism is often characterized as only having to do with age or aging, a fuller understanding of the concept requires reflection on the multifaceted and diverse experiences of people before they reach (and in) later life. The concept of ageism must be able to reflect and integrate the fact there are differences in income, education, sexual orientation, gender, area of geographic residence, their family and marital status, immigration and citizenship status, race and ethnic origin, and mental, physical, or intellectual disabilities.
It will be important to consider the cumulative effect of other “isms”, and the extent to which ageism may simply be later life sexism in disguise. There is likely not one ageism, but many diverse ageisms. It has been suggested that ageism is somehow different (and implicitly not as bad) as other “isms”, because it is inherent to all persons (“we all grow old”). Because of this perceived “universal” nature, ageism is often taken for granted or not treated as seriously than sexism/heterosexism, able-bodiedism (ableism) or racism.
The Ontario Human Rights Commission also points out that in law: “Age cases tend to be treated differently than other discrimination cases, … The most noticeable difference from a human rights perspective is the lack of a sense of moral opprobrium linked to age discrimination which in comparable circumstances would generate outrage if the ground of discrimination were, say, race, sex or disability. ” The American industrial revolution was a major contributor to the ideology of Ageism. Younger, faster, stronger bodies could perform the same mind-less task for hours on end, which in turn created an enormous ROI.
The business people who did the hiring for these facilities realized this and in order to increase the company profits, they had to decrease the wages being paid and increase the hours being worked. It was the catalyst for several social structures still in place today. The social stratification of the labor was based on age. Starting at the top, the old, rich, power elite, upper class owned the company. They paid the middle-class factory manager to make money for them. In turn, the middle-class factory manager made their trusted lower-middle-class hiring manager want young, cheap, strong and fast.
This is where the poor began to be separated from the working lower-class citizens. It was still a rather blurry line between the poor and the lower class, because at any given moment you could be replaced. There was not a lot of room to move up, and the only incentive to stay with the company was to have an income. The old and elderly went from being respected for their wisdom to being rejected for their perceived inabilities. This lead to many older people lying about their age, saying they were younger.
This was a shift from previous generations where children would lie about their age, saying they were older An interesting practice started taking place about a century later; pensions and social security. As the working lower class matured and was promoted, they earned a little more and moved up to middle or upper-middle class. They had served time with a company and likely that company was paying them more than they would have liked to. In addition, there were a larger number of (younger) people beginning to look for jobs as well.
This older employee was probably earning as much as two, three, or even four potential new-hires. According to the capitalist business models, it didn’t make sense to pay one guy that large sum of money. The government’s social security program combined with private employer’s pension programs acted as an incentive to entice (bribe? ) the aging work force to leave the company and make room for more people at the bottom. The ageism is clear in that the company wants to be rid of the older employees because they are perceived to be worth less than the new employees due to the ideas of productivity.
Based on age stratification, the person who retires is agreeing that they are too old to perform that work anymore. They may make any number of rationalization or excuses, but the message is unchanged. Our society places an enormous value on a person’s perceived age, with major handicaps given to the very young and to the very old. The very young are either not physically or mentally capable of performing the required task, and the same is true for the elderly. Since society requires that people be able to perform some level of productive activity, those that cannot are viewed as a burden on the system
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