Mathew Effect, and individual variation: Sociological take on aging

WHile printing some articles in Ellis, someone was printing the following paper. Found it interesting so thought Id  save it for posterity.

Intracohort Differentiaion mathew effect

Dale Dannefer1

(1)  University of Rochester, USA

Abstract  Recent contributions of sociologists and others have brought a new awareness and new theoretical understanding of the extent to which human aging and life-course patterns are shaped by social conditions and influenced by social change. Yet the potential of many social processes to account for individual aging patterns remains untapped, because research and theory have focused heavily upon comparisons between cohorts rather than the internal differentiation of cohorts. This paper shows that focusing upon intracohort differentiation over the life course leads to a mobilization of sociological findings whose age-related implications have not been exploited. Using the phenomenon of ldquoaged heterogeneityrdquo as an illustrative case, it is suggested that intracohort differentiation—operating through macro-level, organizational, and micro-level processes—can explain significant phenomena of aging previously neglected by theory, or else assumed to be psychological in origin. These processes specify Merton’s ldquoMatthew effect.rdquo Implications for biological aging and for research are briefly discussed.


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