Advertisement

Ageing Identities in the Twenty-First Century: The Social and Practical Effects of Talk About Being Old

  • Christine StephensEmail author
  • Mary Breheny
Chapter

Abstract

As the population ages in the twenty-first century, older people are increasingly being identified as a problem to society. Older people are commonly constructed as the subjects of deterioration, dependency, and burden discourses. At the same time, recent social policy responses to increases in life expectancy and the rapid increase in the older population have shifted from a focus on care towards the valorisation of independence, participation, and activity for older people. These dominant discourses restrict opportunities for participation as a contributing citizen, oppress those with fewer resources, and must be balanced with bodily, health, and social life changes. Older citizens take up or resist available identities through narratives and practices that reflect differences in resources, health, and social status. This chapter illustrates this variation by analysing the ways older people in New Zealand talk about their everyday activities. The analysis shows how discursive constructions of ageing provide contradictory identities which older people must negotiate to maintain an identity as a virtuous citizen.

Keywords

Ageism Ageing identities Participation Critical enquiry Discourse Social policy 

References

  1. Ainsworth, S., & Hardy, C. (2004). Critical Discourse Analysis and Identity: Why Bother? Critical Discourse Studies, 1(2), 225–259.  https://doi.org/10.1080/1740590042000302085CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Angus, J., & Reeve, P. (2006). Ageism: A Threat to “Aging Well” in the 21st Century. Journal of Applied Gerontology, 25(2), 137–152.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Beard, J. R., Officer, A., de Carvalho, I. A., Sadana, R., Pot, A. M., Michel, J.-P., et al. (2016). The World Report on Ageing and Health: A Policy Framework for Healthy Ageing. The Lancet, 387(10033), 2145–2154.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Beck, U., & Beck-Gernsheim, E. (2002). Individualization: Institutionalized Individualism and Its Social and Political Consequences. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  5. Bell, K., & Green, J. (2016). On the Perils of Invoking Neoliberalism in Public Health Critique. Critical Public Health, 26, 239–243.  https://doi.org/10.1080/09581596.2016.1144872CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Biggs, S. (2005). Beyond Appearances: Perspectives on Identity in Later Life and Some Implications for Method. Journals of Gerontology – Series B Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences, 60(3), S118–S128.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Binstock, R. H. (2010). From Compassionate Ageism to Intergenerational Conflict? Gerontologist, 50(5), 574–585.  https://doi.org/10.1093/geront/gnq056CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Blaikie, A. (1999). Ageing and Popular Culture. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  9. Bradshaw, J., & Holmes, J. (2013). An Analysis of Equity in Redistribution to the Retired and Children Over Recent Decades in the OECD and UK. Journal of Social Policy, 42(1), 39–56.  https://doi.org/10.1017/S0047279412000578CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Breheny, M., & Stephens, C. (2010). Ageing in a Material World. New Zealand Journal of Psychology, 39(2), 41–48.Google Scholar
  11. Breheny, M., & Stephens, C. (2017). Spending Time: The Discursive Construction of Leisure in Later Life. Annals of Leisure Research, 20(1), 39–54.  https://doi.org/10.1080/11745398.2016.1191360CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Burden, J. (1999). Leisure as Process and Change: What Do Older People Say? Annals of Leisure Research, 2(1), 28–43.  https://doi.org/10.1080/11745398.1999.10600870CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Burr, V. (2015). Social Constructionism. London: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Butler, R. N. (1969). Age-ism: Another Form of Bigotry. Gerontologist, 9, 243–246.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Butler, R. N. (2009). Combating Ageism. International Psychogeriatrics, 21(2), 211.  https://doi.org/10.1017/S104161020800731XCrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. Calasanti, T. (2007). Bodacious Berry, Potency Wood and the Aging Monster: Gender and Age Relations in Anti-Aging Ads. Social Forces, 86(1), 335–355.  https://doi.org/10.1353/sof.2007.0091CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Coburn, D. (2000). Income Inequality, Social Cohesion and the Health Status of Populations: The Role of Neo-Liberalism. Social Science & Medicine, 51(1), 135–146.  https://doi.org/10.1016/S0277-9536(99)00445-1CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Coupland, J., & Coupland, N. (1994). “Old Age Doesn’t Come Alone”: Discursive Representations of Health-in-Aging in Geriatric Medicine. The International Journal of Aging and Human Development, 39(1), 81–93.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Crawford, R. (1980). Healthism and the Medicalisation of Everyday Life. International Journal of Health Services, 10(3), 365–388.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Crawford, R. (2006). Health as a Meaningful Social Practice. Health, 10(4), 401–420.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Dupuis, S. L., & Alzheimer, M. (2008). Leisure and Ageing Well. World Leisure Journal, 50(2), 91–107.  https://doi.org/10.1080/04419057.2008.9674538CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Durie, M. (1999). Kaumatautanga Reciprocity: Maori Elderly and Whanau. New Zealand Journal of Psychology, 28(2), 102–106.Google Scholar
  23. Ekerdt, D. J., & Koss, C. (2016). The Task of Time in Retirement. Ageing and Society, 36(06), 1295–1311.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Estes, C. L., & Binney, E. A. (1989). The Biomedicalization of Aging: Dangers and Dilemmas. The Gerontologist, 29(5), 587–596.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Estes, C. L., Biggs, S., & Phillipson, C. (2003). Social Theory, Social Policy and Ageing. A Critical Introduction. Maidenhead: Open University Press.Google Scholar
  26. Fealy, G., McNamara, M., Treacy, M. P., & Lyons, I. (2012). Constructing Ageing and Age Identities: A Case Study of Newspaper Discourses. Ageing and Society, 32, 85–102.  https://doi.org/10.1017/S0144686X11000092CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Friedan, B. (1994). The Fountain of Age. London: Vintage.Google Scholar
  28. Harré, R., & Gillett, G. (1994). The Discursive Mind. London: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  29. Hepworth, M. (2003). Ageing Bodies: Aged by Culture. In J. Coupland & R. Gwyn (Eds.), Discourse, the Body, and Identity (pp. 89–106). Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Hinchliff, S., & Gott, M. (2016). Ageing and Sexuality in Western Societies: Changing Perspectives on Sexual Activity, Sexual Expression and the ‘Sexy’ Older Body. In E. Peel & R. Harding (Eds.), Ageing and Sexualities: Interdisciplinary Perspectives (pp. 11–31). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  31. Hodgetts, D., Chamberlain, K., & Bassett, G. (2003). Between Television and the Audience: Negotiating Representations of Ageing. Health (London), 7(4), 417–438.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Horrell, B., Stephens, C., & Breheny, M. (2015). Capability to Care: Supporting the Health of Informal Caregivers for Older People. Health Psychology, 34(4), 339–348.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Hudson, R. B., & Gonyea, J. G. (2012). Baby Boomers and the Shifting Political Construction of Old Age. The Gerontologist, 52(2), 272–282.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Hurley, K., Breheny, M., & Tuffin, K. (2017). Intergenerational Inequity Arguments and the Implications for State-Funded Financial Support of Older People. Ageing and Society, 37(3), 561–580.  https://doi.org/10.1017/S0144686X1500135XCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Katz, S. (2000). Busy Bodies: Activity, Aging, and the Management of Everyday Life. Journal of Aging Studies, 14(2), 135–152.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Katz, S., & Marshall, B. (2003). New Sex for Old: Lifestyle, Consumerism, and the Ethics of Aging Well. Journal of Aging Studies, 17(1), 3–16.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Kleiman, E. (1967). A Standardized Dependency Ratio. Demography, 4(2), 876–893.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Laliberte Rudman, D. (2015). Embodying Positive Aging and Neoliberal Rationality: Talking About the Aging Body Within Narratives of Retirement. Journal of Aging Studies, 34, 10–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Lin, M.-C., Hummert, M. L., & Harwood, J. (2004). Representation of Age Identities in On-Line Discourse. Journal of Aging Studies, 18(3), 261–274.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Lupton, D. (1995). The Imperative of Health: Public Health and the Regulated Body. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  41. Mackean, R., & Abbot-Chapman, J. (2012). Older People’s Perceived Health and Wellbeing: The Contribution of Peer-Run Community-Based Organisations. Health Sociology Review, 21(1), 47–57.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Martin, R., Williams, C., & O’Neill, D. (2009). Retrospective Analysis of Attitudes to Ageing in the Economist: Apocalyptic Demography for Opinion Formers. BMJ, 339, b4914.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Martinson, M., & Berridge, C. (2015). Successful Aging and Its Discontents: A Systematic Review of the Social Gerontology Literature. The Gerontologist, 55(1), 58–69.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Minkler, M. (1996). Critical Perspectives on Ageing: New Challenges for Gerontology. Ageing & Society, 16(04), 467–487.  https://doi.org/10.1017/S0144686X00003639CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Minkler, M., & Estes, C. L. (1999). Critical Gerontology: Perspectives from Political and Moral Economy. Amityville: Baywood.Google Scholar
  46. Parker, I. (1992). Discourse Dynamics. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  47. Paulson, S., & Willig, C. (2008). Older Women and Everyday Talk About the Ageing Body. Journal of Health Psychology, 13(1), 106–120.  https://doi.org/10.1177/1359105307084316CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  48. Peel, E., & Ellis, S. J. (forthcoming, 2018). Ageing and Chronic Illness in Language and Sexuality. In K. Hall & R. Barrett (Eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Language and Sexuality. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  49. Petersen, A., & Lupton, D. (1996). The New Public Health: Health and Self in the Age of Risk. London: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  50. Pond, R., Stephens, C., & Alpass, F. (2010). Virtuously Watching One’s Health Older Adults’ Regulation of Self in the Pursuit of Health. Journal of Health Psychology, 15(5), 734–743.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Portacolone, E. (2011). The Myth of Independence for Older Americans Living Alone in the Bay Area of San Francisco: A Critical Reflection. Ageing & Society, 31(05), 803–828.  https://doi.org/10.1017/S0144686X10001169CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Powell, J., & Biggs, S. (2000). Managing Old Age: The Disciplinary Web of Power, Surveillance and Normalization. Journal of Aging and Identity, 5(1), 3–13.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Powell, J., & Biggs, S. (2004). Ageing, Technologies of Self and Bio-Medicine: A Foucauldian Excursion. International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, 24(6), 17–29.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Reed, J., & Clarke, C. L. (1999). Nursing Older People: Constructing Need and Care. Nursing Inquiry, 6(3), 208–215.  https://doi.org/10.1046/j.1440-1800.1999.00033.xCrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  55. Robertson, A. N. N. (1999). Beyond Apocalyptic Demography: Toward a Moral Economy of Interdependence. In C. L. E. M. Minkler (Ed.), Critical Gerontology: Perspectives from Political and Moral Economy (pp. 75–90). Amityville: Baywood.Google Scholar
  56. Rowe, J. W., & Kahn, R. L. (1987). Human Aging – Usual and Successful. Science, 237(4811), 143–149.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Rowe, J. W., & Kahn, R. L. (1998). Successful Aging: The MacArthur Foundation Study. New York: Pantheon.Google Scholar
  58. Rozanova, J. (2010). Discourse of Successful Aging in the Globe & Mail: Insights from Critical Gerontology. Journal of Aging Studies, 24(4), 213–222.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Rubinstein, R. L., & de Medeiros, K. (2015). “Successful Aging,” Gerontological Theory and Neoliberalism: A Qualitative Critique. The Gerontologist, 55(1), 34–42.  https://doi.org/10.1093/geront/gnu080CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  60. Schroeter, M. (2017). Levin Woman Swims an Extra Length on Every Birthday. Stuff. Retrieved from http://i.stuff.co.nz/life-style/well-good/inspire-me/92369139/levin-woman-swims-an-extra-length-on-every-birthday
  61. Spijker, J., & MacInnes, J. (2013). Population Ageing: The Timebomb That Isn’t? BMJ, 347, f6598.  https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.f6598CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  62. Stenner, P., McFarquhar, T., & Bowling, A. (2011). Older People and ‘Active Ageing’: Subjective Aspects of Ageing Actively. Journal of Health Psychology, 16(3), 467–477.  https://doi.org/10.1177/1359105310384298CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  63. Stephens, C. (2016). From Success to Capability for Healthy Ageing: Shifting the Lens to Include All Older People. Critical Public Health., 27, 490.  https://doi.org/10.1080/09581596.2016.1192583CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Townsend, P. (1986). Ageism and Social Policy. In C. Phillipson & A. Walker (Eds.), Ageing and Social Policy (pp. 15–44). London: Gower.Google Scholar
  65. Tulle, E. (2008). The Ageing Body and the Ontology of Ageing: Athletic Competence in Later Life. Body & society, 14(3), 1–19.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. United Nations. (2015). World Population Prospects: The 2015 Revision. Available from http://esa.un.org/unpd/wpp/
  67. Vernon, S. (2015). 7 Pillars of Successful Ageing. CBS News. Retrieved from http://www.cbsnews.com/news/7-pillars-to-successful-aging/
  68. Ward, R., Vass, A. A., Aggarwal, N., Garfield, C., & Cybyk, B. (2005). A Kiss Is Still a Kiss? The Construction of Sexuality in Dementia Care. Dementia, 4(1), 49–72.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Wearing, B. (1995). Leisure and Resistance in an Ageing Society. Leisure Studies, 14(4), 263–279.  https://doi.org/10.1080/02614369500390201CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Wiersma, E., & Chesser, S. (2011). Masculinity, Ageing Bodies, and Leisure. Annals of Leisure Research, 14(2–3), 242–259.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. World Health Organisation. (2002). Active Ageing: A Policy Framework. Retrieved from http://whqlibdoc.who.int/hq/2002/who_nmh_nph_02.8.pdf

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of PsychologyMassey UniversityPalmerston NorthNew Zealand
  2. 2.School of Health SciencesMassey UniversityPalmerston NorthNew Zealand

Personalised recommendations