Gerontological autism: Terms of accountability in the cultural study of the category of the Fourth Age

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This paper poses an epistemological challenge to students and researchers of old age. It argues that people in deep old age are a testimony to the failure to generate a language by which to comprehend extra-cultural phenomena, which aborts a meaningful dialogue between researchers and subjects. The arguments put forward are based on an analysis of the unique position of the very old as an ultimate, unconstructable other, as they appear in the relevant anthropological discourse, and maintains that cultural standing of that category is anchored in a symbolic and existential space that prevents communication with its inhabitants. The social processes that lead to this state of absent translation and a deadlock of interpretation are analysed by using examples a longitudinal study of the oldest old conducted by the Herczeg Institute on Aging in Israel. An alternative option for a new conceptual articulation of ways of understanding ageing is proposed; one that is free of conventional but ineffectual paradigms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1125-1140
Number of pages16
JournalAgeing and Society
Volume31
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2011

Keywords

  • Fourth Age
  • Scultural autism
  • accountability
  • hermeneutics
  • old age

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Gerontological autism: Terms of accountability in the cultural study of the category of the Fourth Age'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this