Abstract and Keywords
Folklore occurs at every stage of a person’s life, and this chapter covers the way folklore and folklife across, and of, the life course has been studied. Six divisions in the life course that mark traditions of age groups as well as perceived stages in the United States are pregnancy and birth, infancy and early childhood, childhood and adolescence, adulthood, seniority, and death. Although much of the scholarship of age groups has been on the beginning and end of life, I demonstrate the conditions of aging in adolescence through the senior years that generate folklore and should be studied in relation to formation of age-group identity. This chapter emphasizes the use of folklore as an adaptation to aging. It examines the connection of folk traditions to the role that anxiety plays in the aging process, the formation of self and group identity, and the rites of passage that mark transitions from one stage to another. It shows that the presence of invented and emerging traditions indicates changing values and beliefs across the life course and encourages research in age-based research as a basic component of folklore and folklife studies.
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