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or allowing employers to set retirement

ages above 70. In the United States legislation to

prohibit discrimination against older workers was

first passed in 1967.

Modern retirement policy is a product of the

last quarter of the nineteenth century as large

private companies and branches of the civil service

adopted pension policies. Subsequently, at

key periods in the twentieth century (usually in

periods of economic slump or through the impetus

of war), pension coverage, as Leslie Hannah

in Inventing Retirement (1986) shows, has been

extended to cover virtually all sections of the

population. Behind this development can be

traced a range of economic and political influences.

The growth of the factory system accelerated

the introduction of retirement, with the

development of assembly-line methods reducing

the status of older workers. From another perspective,

retirement also provided industrial

capitalism with a means of challenging security

of tenure or jobs for life. It was a reaction against

the persistence of personal modes of behavior

(Gemeinschaft versus Gesellschaft in the classic terms

of Ferdinand To¨nnies in Community and Association,

1887 [trans. 1957]), providing a mechanism for

discharging loyal workers. As a further advantage

it also assisted the stabilization of corporate

hierarchies, creating a permanent flow of employees

and guaranteeing promotion through the


The value and social meanings attached to retirement

tend to vary over time. In the 1950s, with

panics about an aging population, shortage of

labor, and the priority of postwar reconstruction,

pressure was placed on people to delay leaving

work. Older workers were eulogized for their

steadiness and reliability, in contrast to the 1930s

when politicians were praising older people’s

ability to withstand idleness and their willingness

to be pensioned off. By the 1980s, retirement was

once again in vogue as a means of redistributing

jobs to the young and was the target of a powerful

leisure and consumer industry. From the 1990s

onwards the emphasis has been on extending

work life, in the context of fears about the

apparent costs associated with population aging.

Retirement has now emerged as a significant

phase in the life-course. In the United Kingdom

around half of men will leave the labor force at

63 years and then spend another 17 years in retirement;

the equivalent figures for women are

60 years and 22 years. The reasons given for

retirement vary substantially according to factors

such as age, social class, and gender. Men are

more likely than women to expect to retire

early, and this appears to be especially the case

among those in professional and managerial

occupations. The desire to spend more time

retirement retirement


“with the family,” according to Alun Humphrey et

al. (2003), is common among early retirees, with

couples taking joint decisions about the appropriate

point to retire. Poor health and disability

are common reasons for retiring ahead of SPA,

although the individuals affected are unlikely to

define this in terms of “early retirement.”

Manual workers are more likely than their

skilled and professional counterparts to enter retirement

in a poor state of health. According to

Stephen McNair et al. in Changing Work in Later Life

(2004) they are also likely to have lower incomes

and to have experienced insecurity (redundancy,

job losses) in the period leading to retirement.

Pressure to provide informal care – for a partner

or an elderly relative – will be a factor for some,

with women often finding new care responsibilities

as they enter their fifties and sixties. Men

and women show contrasting retirement patterns

in most western societies. Men’s retirement

typically comes at the end of a work role that has

dominated a major part of their life. Women, in

contrast, tend towards discontinuity over the lifecourse,

experiencing a number of moves in and

out of paid employment, this resulting in lower

incomes and less extensive pension coverage in

comparison with men.

Longitudinal data from the United States has

found no evidence that retirement necessarily

leads to social isolation or low morale. Most retirees

find new forms of social engagement or

continue with lifelong interests and activities.

Studies such as the Boston Normative aging Study

also show that retirement does not significantly

affect quantitative or qualitative measures of

support (cited in Kenneth Ferraro, Aging and Role

Transitions, 2001).

Different theoretical models have been used to

explain attitudes and behavior in the transition to

retirement. In the 1950s and 1960s functionalist

perspectives such as the theory of the social role

stressed the extent to which loss of a primary role

such as work deprived the individual – men in

particular – of status and identity. Retirement

was viewed as a “roleless role” which placed the

retiree in an ambiguous social position (Ernest

W. Burgess, Aging in western Societies, 1960). Another

functionalist approach, the disengagement

theory of Elaine Cumming and William Henry in

Growing Old: The Process of Disengagement (1960)

took a different view, arguing that retirement

could be interpreted as permission to disengage

from demanding social roles.

By the 1970s, other theoretical models were

beginning to challenge the assumptions of role

and disengagement theory. Robert Atchley’s identity

continuity, in his Retirement and Leisure Participation:

Continuity or Crisis (1971), suggested an

underlying stability in lifestyles through the retirement

transition. For example, individuals

might still view themselves as teachers or coalminers

even though they were no longer actively

performing such roles. At the same time, people

will draw upon their existing interests, or develop

new ones, to form a bridge between work and


In the 1980s and 1990s, new insights about retirement

emerged from political economy and lifecourse

perspectives. The former focused on the

way in which retirement was shaped by the social

structure and by the social and economic factors

that affect the individual’s place in society. This

approach emphasized the impact of social class,

gender, and race and ethnicity in influencing the

experience of retirement. Events such as retirement

were presented, in papers brought together

in Critical Gerontology (1999) edited by Meredith

Minkler and Carroll Estes, as socially constructed,

that is varying according to lifelong social status

and state policies and ideologies. Life-course perspectives

view retirement as a process rather than

a “one-off” event, with links to other institutions

such as education, work, and family life. With this

approach, past experiences – notably those relating

to employment history – are viewed as crucial

in influencing factors such as the timing of retirement,

morale in retirement, and the degree of

control experienced in the transition to a new

phase in life, as shown in Karl Pillemer et al., Social

Integration in the Second Half of Life (2000).

Despite pressures to encourage people to continue

working for as long as possible, retirement

is now firmly embedded within the life-course.

Some slowing in the rate of withdrawal from

work will certainly occur in the years ahead. On

the other hand, changes over the last decades have

generated expectations and aspirations that may

prove hard to change. What appears likely is that

the range of transitions and experiences associated

with retirement will almost certainly grow:

from baby boomers ready for an extended period

of leisure, low-income groups facing an extended

period of work to supplement their pension,

and women (and some men) balancing a mix of

work and caring roles. Phyllis Moen in Midcourse:

Reconfiguring Careers and Community Service for a New

Life Stage (2003), reviewing data from the United

States, identifies an emerging life stage between

the years of career building and old age, a period

stretching roughly from age 50 through to age 75.

retirement retirement


She sees this new phase as creating a mixture

of uncertainties and opportunities: the former

reflected in pressures and insecurities in the workplace

(with downsizing and forced early retirement);

the latter developed through a broadening

in the range of productive activities (with combinations

of work, caring, and leisure activities). Both

developments indicate major changes in the relationship

between work and retirement, a relationship

which is likely to be a focus of attention in

sociological research. CHRIS PHILLIPSON

revolution, theory of

It was not until the eighteenth century, largely

as the result of the American and French Revolutions,

that the word revolution acquired its

modern meaning. Before that, its use in politics

and society had reflected the classical concept, as

used for instance by Plato (428–348 BC) and

Polybius (203–120 BC), of revolution as a cyclical

movement – a movement, just as in nature or

among the heavenly bodies, that was one of several

turns of a wheel – revolutions – that eventually

returned one to the original starting point. So, for

instance, the English Revolutions of 1640 and 1688

were widely conceived as attempts to return

English politics to its original, pristine state, after

the unwise innovations of English monarchs. By

the same token, and with the same significance,

the Restoration of 1660 was also described by its

proponents as a revolution – a return to an original

state after the disturbances of the Civil War.

With the eighteenth century revolutions, above

all that of the French in 1789, the word revolution

came to mean what we now mean by it today: the

attempt to create something completely new, a

new beginning, a new order of things. Moreover,

it was clear to the French revolutionaries, and to all

who inherited their tradition, that revolution was

a progressive thing, the construction of a society

based on liberty, equality, and justice. As Marie

Jean Marquis de Condorcet (1743–94) put it, “the

word revolutionary can only be applied to revolutions

which have liberty as their object” (On the

Meaning of the Word “Revolutionary”, 1793). Any

other goal, as Condorcet again stated, would be a

“counter-revolution, a revolution in reverse.”

Nineteenth- and twentieth-century revolutionaries

have mostly accepted this, even if, as with

Karl Marx and his followers, they argued that the

purely political liberty of the French Revolution

needed to be completed by social and economic

liberty. One consequence of this has been the difficulty

of talking about “right-wing revolutions,”

such as those of Benito Mussolini (1883–1945) and

Adolf Hitler (1889–1945), which self-consciously

opposed the democratic legacy of the French

Revolution. The predominantly secular, left-wing,

meaning of revolution has also made it problematic

to deal with the new religious revolutions

of our time, such as the Iranian revolution of

1979, inspired by religious fundamentalism and a

desire to return to an older and purer order of


The French Revolution also gave rise to theories

about the course of revolution, what happens

when a revolution breaks out. Here what seemed

apparent to many observers was a certain “logic”

of revolution, a certain inevitability to the course

of revolution. Using the terms derived from the

French Revolution, it was said that revolution

begins with the rule of the moderates, moves on

to a more radical phase – the Girondins – culminating

in the rule of the Jacobins and a Reign of

Terror, in which the revolution is defended by

extreme means against threats from within and

outside the society. The reign of terror leads to a

reaction – “Thermidor” – followed by a return of

the moderates. But the forces unleashed by the

revolution are too turbulent to be led by moderates,

hence the tendency for this period to lead to

a military coup – an “Eighteenth Brumaire” – and

the establishment of a military dictatorship – a

Napoleonic phase. For some theorists this too

was but a prelude, as in the English and French

Revolutions, to defeat of the revolution and a

restoration of the old regime, though never completely

in its original form. But this has not been

the experience of several twentieth-century revolutions,

such as the Russian and the Chinese,

though the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991

might be seen as a long-delayed restoration.

What causes revolutions? Marx, the most influential

theorist, argued that a revolution comes

about as a society undergoes a change in the

mode of production, leading to the rise of a new

class which seizes power, in a political revolution,

from the old ruling class. In this view, both the

English and the French Revolutions can be seen

as bourgeois revolutions, the victory of the new

bourgeois class over the landed aristocracy. This

account can be made to fit several major revolutions,

but only by a rather problematic dissociation

of the actual act of revolution from the

much slower and long-drawn-out change in the

mode of production. It is also difficult to apply

Marxist theories to the Russian Revolution of

1917, as well as to many other twentieth-century

revolutions, where the principal agents appear

to have been not so much social classes as a

revolution, theory of revolution, theory of


revolutionary party led by radical intellectuals,

and where the change in the mode of production

appears to have followed rather than preceded the

revolutionary seizure of power.

More persuasive as an account of the causes of

revolution has been Alexis de Tocqueville’s theory,

as outlined in the Ancien Re´gime and the Revolution

(1856 [trans. 1955]). Revolutions break out, says

Tocqueville, not when things go “from bad to

worse,” when people come to suffer from great

oppression or utter poverty, but rather when

they experience a real improvement in their condition

which, however, is then abruptly cut short

or, which comes to the same thing, they think it

will be interrupted or stopped. Revolution, in

other words, is not caused by absolute but by

relative deprivation: “The evils which are endured

with patience so long as they were inevitable seem

intolerable as soon as hope can be entertained of

escaping from them” (1856 [trans. 1955]). It is

hopes cruelly disappointed that provide the fuel

for revolution. If we combine this with Plato’s

insight in the Republic, that “in any form of government

revolution always starts from the outbreak

of internal dissension in the ruling class” –

that, in other words, it is divisions in the ruling

class that precipitate the revolution – we are in

command of a theory of revolution that fits most

of the main instances with remarkable accuracy.

Some have claimed that, at least in the liberal

democracies of the West, the age of revolutions is

over. The events of May 1968 in Paris, a kind of

play-acting of revolution, is seen as the best the

West can do. Over in eastern Europe, where there

was more serious oppression, the events of 1989

that brought down Communism are generally

seen as true examples of revolution. Less confidently,

the rise and rule of Islamic fundamentalists

in Iran and Afghanistan are seen as heralding

a new wave of religious revolutionary sentiment

in the non-western world. Revolution has always

had a tendency to surprise; it should be no surprise

if its announced demise in the West also

turns out to be premature. KRI SHAN KUMAR

Rex, John (1925– )

Born in South Africa, Rex held a number of

key professorial positions in the United Kingdom:

Professor of Social Theory and Institutions at

the University of Durham (1964–70), Chair of

Sociology at the University of Warwick, Research

Professor in Ethnic Relations at the University of

Aston, Birmingham, and subsequently Professor

of Ethnic Relations in the University of Warwick.

He made important contributions to classical

sociology and to the study of race and ethnicity.

As an influential interpreter of Max Weber, he was

critical of functionalism, because it could not develop

an adequate theory of social action and it

neglected the study of power, both of which, for

Rex, were necessary for an effective understanding

of racism. His publications on sociological

theory included Key Problems in Sociological Theory

(1961), Discovering Sociology (1973), Approaches to Sociology

(1974), and Sociology and the Demystification of

the Modern World (1974). In his work on social class

and race relations, Rex came to be closely associated

with “conflict sociology” publishing Social Conflict:

A Conceptual and Theoretical Analysis (1981). His

work on the study of racial conflict was equally

influential and wide-ranging. With R. Moore, he

developed the concept of housing classes in his

study of mortgage inequality, housing allocation,

and ethnic divisions in Birmingham in Race, Community

and Conflict: A Study of Sparkbrook (1967). A

spate of publications on sociological theory and

race followed: Race, Colonialism and the City (1973),

Race Relations in Sociological Theory (1982), Race and

Ethnicity (1986), and (with S. Tomlinson) Colonial

Immigrants in a British City (1979).


Rieff, Philip (1922– )

A seminal American analyst of the sociology

of values and morality, Rieff was Benjamin Franklin

Professor of Sociology at the University of

Pennsylvania until his retirement in 1993. He has

also held a number of distinguished posts in the

United States (including at Princeton and Yale) as

well as a Visiting Fellowship at All Souls College,

Oxford. His social vision is strongly informed by

Freudian theory, which he has used to develop a

powerful critique of “therapeutic culture” and the

strains of consumer society.

Rieff has made two principal contributions to

sociology and social theory. In Freud: The Mind of the

Moralist (1959), he compellingly argued that psychoanalysis

is primarily a doctrine of tragedy and

forbearance – with political implications for the

ways in which society seeks to deal with loss

and destruction, but nonetheless a vision of the

human spirit opposed to blueprints of revolutionary

political transformation. His other key contribution

came in 1965, with The Triumph of the

Therapeutic, in which Rieff analyzed the rise of

therapeutic culture. Inextricably linked to a social

crisis of authority, Rieff argued that the whole

terrain of therapy systems was a search for consolation

and one reducible to the risks of illusion.

In his most recent work, My Life Among the

Rex, John (1925– ) Rieff, Philip (1922– )


Deathworks (2006), he explores the fleetingness of

culture, arguing for the necessity of God as the

final authority. ANTHONY EL L IOTT

Riesman, David (1909–2002)

Riesman was Henry Ford II Professor of the Social

Sciences at Harvard University (1958–80) and

author (in collaboration with Nathan Glazer and

Reuel Denney) of the influential The Lonely Crowd.

A Study of the Changing American Character (1950).

Riesman argued that tradition-directed personalities

are conformists who reproduce the culture of

their ancestors. The inner-directed personality

emerged with the Renaissance and the Reformation,

and is most suited to individualism. The

other-directed personality of modern America

(and other societies dominated by the mass media)

craves approval from others. The social relations

of the other-directed character are mediated by

the flow of mass communication. The otherdirected

personality creates a shallow form of

emotional intimacy and their demand for approval

is an aspect of liberal, middle-class socialization.

Riesman’s criticisms of American society

in the 1950s bore a close resemblance to Herbert

Marcuse’s analysis of the “happy consciousness”

in his One-Dimensional Man (1964), but they were

also related to the study of individualism in colonial

America by Alexis de Tocqueville. Riesman

was awarded the Prix Tocqueville of the Socie´tie´

Tocqueville in Paris. The Lonely Crowd was part of a

more general appraisal of the changing nature of

power and social class in the United States in the

1950s by Riesman, C. Wright Mills, and Talcott

Parsons. Through his study of popular beliefs

and attitudes in America, he is often credited

with founding the sociology of popular culture.


rights, human

It could be said that nearly the entire discipline of

sociology is fundamentally concerned with issues

of human rights, even though sociologists represent

a minority in the more formalized interdisciplinary

field of the study of human rights. The

central fields of sociology (social inequality; the

differential allocation of resources; discrimination

along the lines of race and ethnicity, social class,

and gender; social movements; and the more generalized

problems of modernity) deal fundamentally

with issues of human rights, but the core

of both classical and contemporary sociological

discourse is practically devoid of discussions of

human rights, as that concept has been used historically

and in other social sciences and the

humanities. In other words, with a few exceptions,

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