Representations of ageing in the media

Authored by: Virpi Ylänne

Routledge Handbook of Cultural Gerontology

Print publication date:  June  2015
Online publication date:  June  2015

Print ISBN: 9780415631143
eBook ISBN: 9780203097090
Adobe ISBN: 9781136221033


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Interest in the nature and the possible effects of media portrayals of older adults has been growing in recent years within communication and media studies, as well as in social and cultural gerontology. Inappropriate and inaccurate negative representations are seen to affect negative stereotypic attitudes and expectations about older people among younger and older consumers alike (Gerbner 1998, Mares and Cantor 1992), potentially lowering older people’s self-esteem (Harwood 1997). Positive and more diverse images are regarded as desirable, especially for older media users, in supporting positive self identity. In the twenty-first century, the visibility of older people and their positive portrayal in the media, including advertising, have—arguably—increased. But media and advertising depictions about ageing and older age continue to be somewhat limited. In particular, what might be considered ‘positive’ portrayals can turn out to be more ambiguous in their constructions of older age than might at first appear to be the case.

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