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Disengagement Theory – Developed by Cumming and Henry | Theory of Aging

Disengagement Theory

Disengagement Theory

In 1961, social scientists Elaine Cumming and William Earle Henry developed the disengagement theory in their book Growing Old. It stands out for being the first social science thesis on aging, and, in part, for the controversy surrounding it, which sparked the development of social science research and theories about the elderly, their social relationships, and their roles in society.According to this theory, all individuals tend to detach themselves from the larger society, which includes the social norms, their social roles, and the manners in which they behave and perform as well as other members of the society. According to Cuming and Henry, this was a natural process that everyone had to go through in the curse of their lives. In order to maintain order in society, this process was important, since the younger generations would learn the skills to replace their elders when the older ones disengaged.

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