Rozario & Derienzis, 2009
Age identity can be seen as a social identity (vs. personal identity), i.e., it is constructed within a system of social interactions based on the membership in a social group where meanings about the self are developed.
Though chronological age appears to be an objective bureaucratic measure of the length of one's life, the relationship between chronological age and one's age identity is far from direct (Logan Ward and Spitze 1992), i.e. a person in her eighties does not necessarily think of herself as an old(er) person. Indeed, scholars have argued that many older people do not consider oldness pivotal to their self‐identity (Gilleard and Higgs 2000, Matthews 1999).Hence, some researchers suggest the notion of "ageless self" which focuses on the continuity of an identity stating that later life is not really different since older adults see themselves as "the continuation of the younger identities". Others propose the "mask of ageing", which "embodies the lack of fit between the inner and outer experiences of the older person" and states that older adults are "youth trapped in an ageing body" (Rozario & Derienzis, 2009).
Late‐life identity remains a contested topic because many older adults claim a disjuncture between their internal experiences and their external appearances. Reasons for this disjunction might lie in our ambivalence and internalised ageist attitudes towards the category ‘old’.
- Rozario, P. A. & Derienzis, D. (2009). 'So forget how old I am!' Examining age identities in the face of chronic conditions. Sociology of Health & Illness, 31(4), 540-553, link
- photographs by the amazing Vivian Maier via and via