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Unmasking ageThe significance of age for social research$
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Bill Bytheway

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9781847426185

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781847426185.001.0001

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Representations of age

Representations of age

(p.75) Four Representations of age
Unmasking age

Bill Bytheway

Policy Press

In considering how age figures in the world around us, it is important to recognise that words and images are there to guide one's thinking. They underpin models of age because they create structured understandings of the characteristics of older people. There is a full and complex vocabulary of age terms in the English language. This chapter contrasts how ‘old’, ‘older’ and ‘elderly’ are used as adjectives, which leads to an examination of how historical trends in vocabulary use reflect changes in state policy and ageist prejudice. As for visual images, captions and accompanying text not only consolidate visual images of what people of different ages look like, they can also create expectations of what it is to be a person of a particular age.

Keywords:   age, words, images, English language, state policy, ageism, vocabulary, old, older, elderly

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