Characterising the Third Age
You may already have thought of some objections to Laslett’s argument – is having a Third Age a lot to do with how much money you have got and how healthy you are, for example? What about people with disabilities or long-term conditions? Is this way of dividing up the life course a bit dismissive of people in the Fourth Age? These kinds of reactions are an important part of developing an academic critique. For the moment, just make a note of any disagreements or objections you might have to Laslett’s argument – we will return to these later.
So how does Laslett’s theory help explain Monty’s experiences? In Activity 4 you will think about this.
Activity 4 Monty’s Third Age
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You may agree that the Third Age seems to be quite a good description for the experiences of some individuals – perhaps you yourself if you are ‘in later life’, or other people you know, as well as Monty. But how typical are these individuals? Laslett was writing in 1989. Do his claims that most people can now expect to experience a Third Age hold up more than 25 years later? These are some of the issues that the next section explores.