Is age by itself inclusive enough to make sense of changes and transitions over the life course? The Need for Theory explores how best to alloy the standard analytic techniques employed by social gerontologists to provide a more effective, nuanced, and insightful view of the assumptive realities thought to characterize the later years. Readers will come away from this book a little less sanguine about the nature of cause and effect within the experience of aging. The Need for Theory speaks to the burgeoning need for critical thinking in social gerontology. The editors have brought together some of the foremost contributors to theoretical advances in the field. This volume incorporates state of the art theorizing with a focus on selected topical areas facing gerontologists around the world. Using their keen insights into substantive issues, the contributors examine personal and structural changes affecting individuals over the life course. Extolling the need for theory is not enough; the contributors focus their insights on a panoply of substantive issues, linking the personal with the political and with the structural parameters that shape the process of aging, no matter where it occurs. Building on a discerning overview of conceptual questions in contemporary gerontology, from social constructionism, to feminism, to social psychological, structural, and political economy perspectives, the authors map key issues, paradoxes, and contradictions facing gerontology now and in the future. Their discussions are sure to engage readers who are themselves concerned with developing explanatory frameworks that reach beyond facile descriptions of existing practices.