Challenges of the Third Age: Meaning and Purpose in Later Life

By Robert S. Weiss; Scott A. Bass | Go to book overview

SIX
Bringers of Allah: The Druse Elders
David Gutmann

EDITORS' INTRODUCTION Two different, though related, issues of meaning are, first, what meanings people give to values and goals and, second, what meanings people give to each other. Gutmann attends to the latter issue. More specifically, he is concerned with how someone who has moved beyond responsibilities for work and family can continue to be socially valued.

Gutmann says that whether an older person matters socially depends on whether he or she can contribute to a socially important enterprise. Some older people are able to do this here in America. They hold senior positions in institutions in which tradition is valued: our military, our judiciary, and many of our largest commercial institutions. The retired CEO, a member of the governing board, may be looked to for the assessment of current policies against the experience of the past; for memories of the way things were done in the past, what worked and what didn't, and what the founders of the enterprise intended; in short, for perspective and wisdom. Gutmann says that what happens in America only in certain sectors can in other places happen for the entire society. His example is the Druse.

Gutmann describes a society in which older men who have won the respect of the community through their behavior in earlier life are inducted into roles as spiritual

-115-

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Challenges of the Third Age: Meaning and Purpose in Later Life
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents v
  • Contributors vii
  • Challenges of the Third Age *
  • Introduction 3
  • One - Holding onto Meaning through the Life Cycle 13
  • References *
  • Two - The Third Age 29
  • References *
  • Three - The Changing Meaning of Aging 41
  • References *
  • Four - Social Sources of Meaning in Later Life 55
  • References *
  • Five - Aging, Place, and Meaning in the Face of Changing Circumstances 81
  • Reference 107
  • Six - Bringers of Allah: The Druse Elders 115
  • References 136
  • Seven - Aging, Intimate Relationships, and Life Story among Gay Men 137
  • References *
  • Eight - Looking for Meaning in a Life's Experience 161
  • Nine - The Search for Meaning in the Later Years: The Views of a Seventy-Four-Year-Old Gerontological Social Worker 173
  • References *
  • Epilogue - Concluding Note on Meaning and the Possibility of Productive Aging 189
  • References *
  • Index 199
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