How Does Age Shape Social Interactions?:Interviewer-Age Effects, Normative Age Distance, and Gender Attitudes

Hu, Yang (2020) How Does Age Shape Social Interactions?:Interviewer-Age Effects, Normative Age Distance, and Gender Attitudes. European Sociological Review. ISSN 0266-7215 (In Press)

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Abstract

Age is one of the most widely used indicators in social research. However, the ways in which age influences the dynamics and outcomes of social interactions have received insufficient attention. The contextual configurations of this influence are particularly under-researched. Analysing data from the European Social Survey, I exploit the case of a survey interview as a microcosm of social interactions to examine the ways in which age influences respondent–interviewer interactions and shapes people’s articulation of gender attitudes. I disentangle whether interviewer’s age influences respondents’ gender-attitude reports directly or via its interaction with respondent’s age. I develop the concept of normative age distance in gender attitudes—the young–old inter-cohort difference in gender attitudes in a given country–year—to examine how it moderates interviewer-age effects. The results suggest that respondents draw on the normative age distance to associate stereotypical gender attitudes with the interviewer’s age and to make sense of their age distance from the interviewer when reporting their gender attitudes. Respondents are more sensitive to the interviewer’s age when the respondent–interviewer age difference is wider and the normative age distance in gender attitudes is greater. Older respondents are more sensitive to normative age distance in gender attitudes when responding to the interviewer’s age. The results provide new insights into how age configures social interactions, underline the importance of understanding survey interviews as contextually embedded symbolic interactions, and reflect critically on methodological challenges to survey design and data analysis.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
European Sociological Review
Uncontrolled Keywords:
/dk/atira/pure/subjectarea/asjc/3300/3312
Subjects:
ID Code:
149634
Deposited By:
Deposited On:
03 Dec 2020 10:09
Refereed?:
Yes
Published?:
In Press
Last Modified:
25 Jan 2021 02:06