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Applying an Anti-Racist and Anti-Ageist Lens to Intergenerational Volunteer Opportunities: Centering the Social Construction of Race and Age to Promote Equity

Authors: Gonzales, Ernest
Jarrott, Shannon
Keywords: anti-racist;anti-ageist;volunteering;intergenerational programs;aging
Issue Date: Dec-2022
Publisher: The Center for Health and Aging Innovation
Series/Report no.: 20224;
Abstract: Societies around the world are rapidly aging and becoming more racially and ethnically diverse. It is essential that social researchers develop and refine theories that inform programs and policies advancing population health, economic and social equity, and social cohesion. In this essay, we identify intergenerational programming, a form of productive aging, as a powerful method to unite generations and address pressing societal issues. We begin with infusing an anti-racist and anti-ageist lens to help inform theory development. In doing so, we review and define key concepts of productive aging and critical race theory, contextualizing them within the Civil Rights movement in the United States. We then refine conceptual frameworks centering anti-ageist and anti-racist principles. Drawing from the latest national survey conducted by Generations United, we reveal the diversity of intergenerational programs across the country, thoroughly examining age, race, and ethnicity of staff, youth, and older participants in these programs and their programmatic foci. We juxtapose these data with data from the Current Population Survey, illustrating how intergenerational programs nationwide are intentionally recruiting diverse populations into their programs – and more can be done. As anti-racism and anti-ageism are relatively novel concepts with a limited evidence-base, we introduce two programs to illustrate these concepts in action, as well as critical questions for researchers and practitioners to answer themselves. We believe that centering the social construction of race and age in the productive aging literature sharpens focus on inclusion, diversity, and equity, while bringing generations together to improve societal well-being.
Appears in Collections:Ernest Gonzales' Collection

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