Constructing ageing and age identities: a case study of newspaper discourses

Fealy, Gerard, McNamara, Martin, Treacy, Margaret Pearl and Lyons, Imogen (2012) Constructing ageing and age identities: a case study of newspaper discourses. Ageing and Society, 32 1: 85-102. doi:10.1017/S0144686X11000092

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Author Fealy, Gerard
McNamara, Martin
Treacy, Margaret Pearl
Lyons, Imogen
Title Constructing ageing and age identities: a case study of newspaper discourses
Journal name Ageing and Society   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0144-686X
Publication date 2012-01
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1017/S0144686X11000092
Open Access Status
Volume 32
Issue 1
Start page 85
End page 102
Total pages 18
Place of publication Cambridge, United Kingdom
Publisher Cambridge University Press
Collection year 2013
Language eng
Abstract Public discourses concerning older people are available in a variety of texts, including popular media, and these discourses position older people with particular age identities. This study examined discursive formations of ageing and age identities in print media in Ireland. Constituting a single media event, newspaper texts concerned with revised welfare provision for older people were subjected to critical discourse analysis and revealed particular ways of naming and referencing older people and distinct constructions of ageing and age identities. The use of nouns and phrases to name and reference older people positioned them as a distinct demographic group and a latent ageism was discernible in texts that deployed collective names like ‘grannies and grandads’ and ‘ little old ladies ’. Five distinct identity types were available in the texts, variously constructing older people as ‘ victims ’ ; ‘ frail, infirm and vulnerable ’ ; ‘ radicalised citizens ’ ; ‘deserving old’ and ‘undeserving old’. The discourses made available subject positions that collectively produced identities of implied dependency and otherness, thereby placing older people outside mainstream Irish society. The proposition that older people might be healthy, self-reliant and capable of autonomous living was largely absent in the discourses. Newspaper discourses betray taken-for-granted assumptions and reveal dominant social constructions of ageing and age identity that have consequences for older people’s behaviour and for the way that society behaves towards them.
Keyword Ageing
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ
Additional Notes Published online: 04 March 2011

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2013 Collection
School of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Work Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 17 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
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Created: Wed, 10 Aug 2011, 09:37:31 EST by Vicki Percival on behalf of School of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Work