(noun) Theory asserting that to feel satisfied and enjoy their lives, elderly individuals must stay engaged to maintain meaningful activities and replace roles or statuses lost due to age.
Example: An individual who worked for 30 years as a medical doctor retires but starts to volunteer at a domestic violence shelter in a client support capacity.
Audio Pronunciation: (ac·tiv·i·ty the·o·ry)
Download Audio Pronunciation: activity theory.mp3
- Not to be confused with psychological theories and research of Alexei Leont’ev (1903–1979) and Sergei Rubinstein (1989–1960)
- Activity theory is compared and contrasted to disengagement theory and continuity theory as a functionalist theory of social gerontology.
- Also termed:
- implicit theory of aging
- normal theory of aging
- lay theory of aging
- Informally termed: active aging
- Havighurst, Robert J., and Bernice L. Neugarten. 1967. Society and Education. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.
- Lemon BW, VL Bengtson, and JA Peterson. 1972. “An Exploration of the Activity Theory of Aging: Activity Types and Life Satisfaction Among In-movers to a Retirement Community.” Journal of Gerontology. 27 (4): 511-23.
- Neugarten, Bernice L. 1968. Middle Age and Aging: A Reader in Social Psychology. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
- Neugarten, Bernice L. 1964. Personality in Middle and Late Life: Empirical Studies. New York: Atherton Press.
- Quadagno, Jill S. 2014. Aging and the Life Course: An Introduction to Social Gerontology. New York: McGraw-Hill.
- activity theory
- continuity theory
- disengagement theory
- social gerontology
Griffiths, Heather, Nathan Keirns, Eric Strayer, Susan Cody-Rydzewski, Gail Scaramuzzo, Tommy Sadler, Sally Vyain, Jeff Bry, Faye Jones. 2016. Introduction to Sociology 2e. Houston, TX: OpenStax.
Henslin, James M. 2012. Sociology: A Down-to-Earth Approach. 10th ed. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.
Kendall, Diane. 2011. Sociology in Our Times. 8th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.
Macionis, John. 2012. Sociology. 14th ed. Boston: Pearson.
Ravelli, Bruce, and Michelle Webber. 2016. Exploring Sociology: A Canadian Perspective. 3rd ed. Toronto: Pearson.
Thompson, William E., and Joseph V. Hickey. 2012. Society in Focus: An Introduction to Sociology. 7th ed. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.
Tischler, Henry L. 2011. Introduction to Sociology. 10th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.
How to Cite the Definition of Activity Theory
ASA – American Sociological Association (5th edition)
Bell, Kenton, ed. 2013. “activity theory.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Retrieved March 27, 2019 (http://sociologydictionary.org/activity-theory/).
APA – American Psychological Association (6th edition)
activity theory. (2013). In K. Bell (Ed.), Open education sociology dictionary. Retrieved from http://sociologydictionary.org/activity-theory/
Chicago/Turabian: Author-Date – Chicago Manual of Style (16th edition)
Bell, Kenton, ed. 2013. “activity theory.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Accessed March 27, 2019. http://sociologydictionary.org/activity-theory/.
MLA – Modern Language Association (7th edition)
“activity theory.” Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Ed. Kenton Bell. 2013. Web. 27 Mar. 2019. <http://sociologydictionary.org/activity-theory/>.