The Middle Age : An Overview Essay

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What was once referred to as ‘middle age’ is now referred to as ‘midlife’, a broad social category demarcated by chronological, social/cultural and body time (Adam, 2004). Although it is difficult to ascertain the actual age when one becomes ‘midlife’ in Western (British/North American) societies the period is assumed to begin in the late thirties and extend into the late fifties (for example, Featherstone and Hepworth, 1996 and Hockey and James, 2003). For some, midlife is a transitional turning point. It is a time when past, present, and future intersect and it becomes easier to reflect on the course life has taken, and importantly where it may lead. It may also be a time when the roles, responsibilities, and patterns of everyday life alter substantially, prompting uncertainty in the present and reflection on future options and possibilities (Hockey and James, 2003). As such, it is likely that individuals will attach different meanings to the experience of midlife. However, this is often neglected in current theories of middle age, where there is a tendency to ignore the impact of cultural and ethnic diversity on the experience of aging. The data presented in this paper suggest cultural differences between women influence their priorities during this period of their lives. A main aim, rather than presupposing sameness of experience, is to consider midlife as a culturally mediated and complex phenomenon. A key argument proposed throughout the paper is that the theoretical

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