Portland Community College | Portland, Oregon

Course Number:
SOC 223
Course Title:
Social Gerontology/Sociology of Aging
Credit Hours:
Lecture Hours:
Lecture/Lab Hours:
Lab Hours:
Special Fee:

Course Description

Explores the diversity of individual and population aging and their consequences for individuals, families, communities and societies, through a life course and social change perspective. Recommend: Introductory sociology course or instructor permission. Prerequisites: WR 115, RD 115 and MTH 20 or equivalent placement test scores. Audit available.

Addendum to Course Description

This course explores the impact of social and cultural conditions on the aging process and the social consequences of this process. It explores the aging process through a life-course perspective and adopts a social problems approach to aging and related policy issues. Prerequisites: There are no prerequisites, but it is recommended that students take Soc204 or Soc205, or their equivalent. This is a core course of the Gerontology Certificate/Degree Program.

Intended Outcomes for the course

Students who successfully complete this course will be able to:
1. Use social theories and multi-disciplinary perspectives to explain diverse patterns and inequalities in individual and population aging and their consequences for individuals, families, communities, and societies.
2. Inform gerontological practice in aging services, business, and family care by analyzing the influence of social structural and cultural factors (including age, abilities, nationality, race/ethnicity, social class, gender, sexual orientation, and religious or spiritual community) on the life course and life chances of diverse populations and groups.
3. Use knowledge of the life course and population aging to plan and implement problem solving and social change strategies within social institutions and through social movements to address social inequalities across the life course.
4. Work with increased confidence as professionals in the field of Gerontology, and further the development of their professional portfolios.

Aspirational Goals

Students will adopt the life course perspective on their own life and the lives of other persons across the life span, will come to terms with how they are aged by culture, will join the campaign to end ageism, and will enjoy rich, creative, and engaged lives to the end of their days!

Course Activities and Design

This course is offered in an online format, with optional class meetings that are recorded. The capstone project is the Life Stories Project, which students work on through their weekly assignments and discussions. At least 12 hours of community-based (service) learning is required, which can usually be achieved through the interviews for the Life Stories Project. Discussions and assignments include self-reflection on one's own aging process. See Outcomes Assessment Strategies for more details.

Outcome Assessment Strategies

Students will demonstrate these learning outcomes by these tasks conducted individually and in cooperation with other students:
1. Participate in a community-based learning project with older persons.
2. Complete reflection, concept exploration, and critical thinking discussions and assignments.
3. Construct a written Life Stories Project based on interviews with  one or more older persons.
4. Apply learning to creative responses to social problems or issues related to aging, for the benefit of individuals and groups, across the life span.
5. For students enrolled in the Certificate or Degree Program, complete e-portfolio entries related to knowledge, skills, and work/volunteer experience.

Course Content (Themes, Concepts, Issues and Skills)

Concepts, themes, and issues
Students should understand and be able to apply major concepts, themes, and issues in the following areas:
1. Social gerontology
2. Age, aging, ageism
3. Cohorts and generations
4. Life-course framework, including adult development, trajectories and transitions, and social roles.
5. Demography of aging
6. Multicultural perspectives of elders and aging, in diverse cultures and societies.
7. Micro-theories of aging, including disengagement, activity, continuity, subculture, exchange, and social construction
8. Macro Theories of Aging, including modernization, age stratification, cumulative disadvantage, political economy, and feminist
9. Historical Perspectives on Aging
10. Theories of Biological Aging and research on the aging body and sensory aging
11. Aging and cognitive change, mental disorders, personality and adaptation
12. Adult Development & Life Course Transitions
13. Social support systems for elders, including the family, friends, religion, intimacy and sexuality.
14. Work and Retirement
Competencies and Skills
Students should be able to:
1. Interpret and apply research on aging
* qualitative and quantitative
* cross-sectional and longitudinal
2. Develop and practice research, analysis, and reporting skills
* interviews
* observation
* life histories
* policy and program-related
3. Use sociological theories and multi-disciplinary perspectives to explain the aging process and the social consequences of that process, for individuals and populations.
4. Analyze how the life course of diverse populations is influenced by social structural and cultural factors, particularly race-ethnicity, social class, and gender.
5. Use sociological knowledge to plan and implement social change strategies related to aging and the life course within social institutions and through social movements.
6. Demonstrate this knowledge in written and oral form, individually and in interaction with others.

Course Text:
The SACC and the Gerontology Program must approve required texts used in this course. The current approved text is the latest edition of Moody and Sasser's, Aging: Concepts and Controversies. 
This text is also used for Soc 230. Extensive online resources are used in the 10 Course Units.
Instructional Delivery Mode: This course has been approved for classroom, hybrid, and distance modalities. It is currently taught online, with some optional in-class meetings that are recorded and videostreamed online.