Margaret Morganroth Gullette, Declining to Decline: Cultural Combat
and the Politics of the Midlife. Charlottesville and London: University
Press of Virginia 1997, 276pp, $29.95 cloth ISBN 0-8139-1721-2.
Margaret Morganroth Gullette is one of America's foremost critics of the
concept of ageing as a universal and comprehensive process of decline which
begins in the middle years. She is a formidable critic of biological essentialism,
defender of social constructionism, and opponent of ‘middle ageism’. Her
most recent book, published in 1997 and not yet available in the UK, has been
widely acclaimed in the USA. This review article describes Gullette's analysis
of the social construction of decline in the context of her previous writings on
midlife and outlines her strategy for combatting the decline model of ageing
into old age.