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Workshop on Age: between Nature and Culture

Rostock, Germany, May 1997
Organised by the IUSSP Working Group on Biology, Culture and Population in collaboration with the Max Plank Institute for Demographic Research


In its first meetings, the Working Group defined the global objectives and orientations for the production of a volume and on this basis identified and solicited potential authors. The first drafts of the contributions were discussed in a workshop held in Rostock end of May 1997 following which the definite redlines of the project were set more precisely. Authors were requested to revise their paper in accordance with the outcome of the meeting and some additional contributions were solicited.

The formula adopted for the Workshop - each paper discussed in depth through two prepared comments followed by a general debate - proved to be very fruitful thanks to the quality of everybody’s involvement. However, to remove the barrier between disciplines is a long process. To be sure, very promising data have been presented by the biologists and the usefulness of the new achievements in human biology for population studies has been recognised. Such is also the case of the complementarity between the psychological and the biological approaches to the understanding of the changes linked to the advancement of age throughout the life span. What is less obvious is to create a real dialogue between hard and soft science and a mutual enrichment between more quantitative approaches and more qualitative ones, efforts to explore the mechanisms of change through case studies and analysis of global trends through statistics. The link between the intent to find an objective measure of the process of ageing and its ever present subjective interpretation is still missing. We are also far from the systematic inclusion of a sex/gender based approach. We shall be interested to see to which points authors will really integrate a transdisciplinary glance in their revised contribution or if the integration will remain the task of the scientific editors. Finally, we have to recognise how difficult it is to include colleagues from non-occidental parts of the world; this is because of very practical problems of communication, as well as of different methods of work.

Outline of the publication

Claudine Sauvain-Dugerdil with H. Leridon and N. Mascie-Taylor

Defining and Measuring Age

Measuring Biological Age
Alan H. Bittles and R. F. Brightwell

Biological and Genetic Theories of the Process of Senescence throughout Life
Kristen L. Ossa and Douglas E. Crews

Biological Age and Survival.
Meredith uttley and Michael H. Crawford

Inequalities of Life: statistical analysis and modelling perspectives
Kenneth G. Manton and Anatoli I. Yashin

The AgeVvariable in Cognitive Developmental Psychology
Anik de Ribaupierre, Laurence Poget and Francisco Pons

Ages, Life Course and Life Event History Analysis
Eva Lelièvre

Reproduction as a Marker of the Stages of Life

Age and Female Reproductive Function: identifying the most important biological determinants
Darryl J. Holman, Kathleen A. O’Connor and James W. Wood

La Menopausia: significación psicosocial de una transición biológica
Margarita M. Carmenate Moreno, Antonio J. Martinez Fuentes and Sonia Catasús

Male Fertility
P. Jouannet

Timing of Births: the basic landmark of women life stages
Allan G. Hill

The Age Difference between Partners: a matter of female choice?
Máire Ni Bhrolcháin

Across the Ages of Life: Categorising Phases of Life

The Natural Substructure of Age Systems and the Social Construction of Ageing
Paul Spencer

Demographic Categories Revisited
Patrice Bourdelais et Vincent Gourdon

Perception Culturelle et Sociale des Rapports de Sexe et des Rapports d’Age: l’exemplarité des sociétés des vallées alpines suisses
Yvonne Preiswerk

Attribution of Age, Manipulations and Errors in Age Assessment
Gilles Pison and Patrick O. Ohadike

Possibly additional chapter from a lawyer

The Ethical and Judicial Aspects of Age
Graciela Hierro

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