Human beings are born, they grow up, age and die just like other mammals, but these processes are interpreted and organized according to socio-cultural contexts that are very diverse, both in historical and contemporary societies. These contexts are deeply influential as humans go through a relatively long period in which they are dependent on others. They begin to absorb the specific culture in which they are born as soon as they begin to drink the milk that feeds them. Some fundamental cultural assets, such as language, take a long time to acquire but then, eventually, enable the competent speakers to participate more actively in their societies and develop the abilities that are usually associated with human autonomy.
(from International Handbook of Social Gerontology, 2010)Download article