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Gerontology: Key Thinkers

Elizabeth W. Markson, Jon Hendricks, Anne Foner, Gloria D. Heinemann and Victor W. Marshall

Subject Sociology of Health, Aging, and Medicine » Sociology of Aging

Key-Topics age

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405124331.2007.x


All subfields in sociology have their own key figures beyond the more generally influential people discussed throughout this Encyclopedia. In this entry, several of the key figures (Beth Hess, Donald Kent, Mathilda White Riley, Ethel Shanas, and Donald Spence) in the history of the study of issues relating to gerontology are discussed. – GR The many scholarly contributions of Beth (Bowman) Hess to the field of sociology include those to the subfields of aging and the life course, gender studies, and friendship and its relationship to age cohort. Hess brought to her work intellectual curiosity, breadth of knowledge, analytic powers, impeccable editing and writing ability, and lack of pretentiousness. The only child of upper-middle-class parents, Hess attended private elementary and high schools in Buffalo, New York and received her BA degree in 1950 from Radcliffe College magna cum laude , where she majored in government. After a brief interlude as a file clerk in a New York City advertising agency, she and her new husband, Dick Hess, moved to Paris. Returning in the mid-1950s to New Jersey where she lived for the rest of her life, she became, as she later described it ( Hess 1995 ), temporarily enveloped in the zeitgeist of suburban motherhood. When her younger child entered kindergarten in 1962, Hess entered the graduate sociology program at Rutgers University. While a doctoral ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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