Reifying Age-Related Employment Problems Through the Constructions of the “Problematic” Older and Younger Worker

  • Cara Lynn Scheuer
  • Albert J. Mills


This study investigates the discursive representation of the older/younger worker within business textbooks over the past 100 years. Through Critical Discourse Analysis of these textbooks, we demonstrate the textbook authors’ privileging of the male, able-bodied worker who is neither too young nor too old to be a “productive” employee. Older and younger workers were situated as falling outside this “ideal” age range and so were characterized as being highly “problematic.” We review our results within the context of several broader discourses such as able-bodiedness, gender, generational differences, and diversity management. We also discuss the power implications of our findings, showing how the selective representations of the older/younger worker serve to privilege managers by granting them the authority to control these so-called “problematic” workers.


Critical Discourse Analysis Older workers Younger workers Power Control 

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Cara Lynn Scheuer
    • 1
  • Albert J. Mills
    • 2
  1. 1.Coastal Carolina UniversityConwayUSA
  2. 2.Saint Mary’s UniversitySobey School of BusinessHalifaxCanada

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