Ageing well? A cross-country analysis of the way older people are visually represented at websites of organizations for older people

Eugène Loos, Loredana Ivan, Mireia Fernández-Ardèvol, Maria Sourbati, Maria Ekström, Monika Wilińska, Simone Carlo, Ioana Schiau

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The ‘aging well’ discourse advances the idea of making older people responsible for their capability to stay healthy and active. In the context of an increased ageing population, which poses several challenges to countries’ government, this discourse has become dominant in Europe. We explore the way older people are visually represented on websites of organizations for older people in seven European countries (Finland, UK, the Netherlands, Spain, Italy, Poland and Romania), using an analytical approach based on visual content analysis, inspired by the dimensional model of national cultural differences from the Hofstede model (1991; 2001; 2011). We used two out of the five Hofstede dimensions: Individualism/Collectivism (IDV) and Masculinity/Femininity (MAS). The results demonstrated that in all seven countries older people are mostly visually represented as healthy/active, which reflects a dominant ‘ageing well’ discourse in Europe. The results also demonstrated that in most cases older people tend to be represented together with others, which is not consonant with the dominant ‘ageing well’ discourse in Europe. A last finding was was that the visual representation of older people is in about half of the cases in line with these Hofstede dimensions. We discuss the implications of these findings claiming that the ageing well discourse might lead to “visual ageism”. Organizations could keep this in mind while using pictures for their website or in other media and consider to use various kind of pictures, or to avoid using pictures of older people that stigmatize, marginalize or injure. They could look into the cultural situatedness and intersectional character of age relations and consider alternative strategies of both visibility and invisibility to talk with and about our ageing societies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)63-83
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Comparative Research in Anthropology and Sociology
Volume8
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 28 Feb 2018

Bibliographical note

Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivatives 2.5 License

Keywords

  • Ageing well
  • Visual representations of older people
  • Hofstede IDV Index
  • Hofstede MAS Index

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