Agedem – Ageing, Democracy, Equality and Media

Research group
Active research
Project owner
AgeCap, University of Gothenburg

Research partners
Project owner:
Agedem is funded within the framework of the University of Gothenburg's research on global challenges (UGOT Challenges).

Short description

Agedem is a research group on ageing, equality, democracy, and media within AgeCap, Centre for Ageing and Health, University of Gothenburg.

The common goal within AgeCap is for research and collaboration to increase people's opportunities for good and valuable aging.

Agedem consists of researchers from journalism, media and communication, political science, and law, who study different aspects of ageing from a social science perspective. This includes digital divisions, and the media image of older persons, consequences of ageing for democracy, and how the law relates to older persons.

There is also collaboration with other research groups within AgeCap.

Some examples of Agedem research

Media images of the older persons

When older people appear in the media, they are often stereotyped, but more often than not they are not present at all. When certain groups do not participate in the public discourse, this will have long term consequences for both freedom of expression and democracy. One side of the project investigates media representations of older people, and how these images relate to such dimensions as e.g. gender.

Another part of the project is about ageing competence among journalists. It investigates how the journalists can become better at reporting on ageing, as well as the ethical dilemmas that arise for journalists when interviewing older, fragile people.

Digital divides

What do digital media habits look like in the age group 65-85 years, with particular focus on the spread of digital applications? How do different uses attract different groups of older people?

Self-determination and discrimination

Planning and implementation of care should not be done without involving the older people. In practice, the requirements of respect for self-determination and integrity are not easy to handle. For example, how should one act when an older person does not want to receive care, or when an older person lacks insight into his or her needs and is unable to plan or implement care?

Another important area to investigate is the legal challenges faces by today's welfare system with an aging population. Increasing the retirement age is a solution which is often proposed, but which must be seen in relation to an increased focus on age-discrimination. Age has been one of the grounds for discrimination in Sweden under the Discrimination Act since 2009, and there is a real possibility that we in the future will have to deal with court cases involving discrimination of people beyond retirement.

Influence and mobilization of older people

Does the aging population pose a challenge for democracy, especially with regards to older persons' power and influence in politics? Living on your pension makes you more dependent on political decisions, and being more dependent on political decisions can create stronger interest groups that, in turn, can mobilize older people to make their voice heard. Being dependent on the welfare state and elements such as freedom of choice in health and care can also increase commitment and interest in politics. At the same time, such features as weakened memory, failing health, and living alone can be restraining factors that reduce commitment and interest in politics.

Logtype AgeCap

Participating Researchers

Annika Bergström, Department of Journalism, Media and Communication (JMG).

Therese Bäckman, School of Business, Economics and Law.

Maria Edström, Department of Journalism, Media and Communication (JMG).

Thomas Erhag, Professor, School of Business, Economics and Law.

Torbjörn Odlöw, School of Business, Economics and Law.

Gabriella Sandstig, Department of Journalism, Media and Communication (JMG).

Maria Solevid, Department of Political Science.

Sara Stendahl, Professor, School of Business, Economics and Law.

Eva-Maria Svensson, School of Business, Economics and Law.

Lena Wängnerud, Department of Political Science.

Collaboration with AgeCap and UGOT Challenges

AgeCap was originally a collaboration between five research groups funded by Forte. After initial funding from the University of Gothenburg's initiative UGOT Challenge, AgeCap has expanded to include researchers from five faculties and 15 institutions at the University of Gothenburg.

Within the extended AgeCap, there is expertise ranging from molecular biology and neurochemistry to working life, history, health sciences, journalism, language and design.


Scientific Articles

Edström, Maria (2018). Visibility patterns of gendered ageism in the media buzz: a study of the representation of gender and age over three decades, Feminist Media Studies, 18:1, 77-93, DOI:10.1080/14680777.2018.1409989.

Bergström, Annika (2017). Digital Equality and the Uptake of Digital Applications among Seniors of Different Age. Nordicom Review. 38:1, s. 79-92.

Conference Papers

Edström Maria, Kokkinakis Dimitrios & Berggren Max (2018). Ageism and Swedish news media. Poster presentation, 24th Nordic Congress of Gerontology (NKG). Oslo, Norway: 2-4 May 2018.

Edström, Maria & Svensson, Eva-Maria (2017). Cultural narratives and representations in Swedish law and media regarding age discrimination. Cultural Narratives, Processes and Strategies in Representations of Age and Aging. Graz, Austria: 27-30 April.

Edström, Maria (2017). From invisible to capable. Strategies and mind set of journalists to include older persons. NordMedia 2017: Mediated Realities – Global Challenges. TWG 6: Media Across the Life Course. Tampere, Finland: 17-19 August.

Edström, Maria (2016). Visibility Patterns of Age and Gender in the Media Buzz. 6th European communication Conference (ECREA). Prague: 9-12 November 2016.

Solevid, Maria 2018. Political participation among older people – a capability approach. Paper presented at Annual Meeting of Midwest Political Science Association, Chicago, April 5-8 2018.

Svensson, Eva-Maria, Stendahl, Sara, Rendahl, Pernilla, Erhag, Thomas & Swedrup, Otto (2017). The legal challenge of an ageing population - is the Nordic Welfare Model sustainable?. Conference: GLOBAL CHALLENGES – NORDIC EXPERIENCES Theme: The making and circulation of Nordic models, Oslo: 20-21 March 2017.

Svensson, Eva-Maria (2017). Older Women, the Capabilities Approach and CEDAW – Normative Foundations and Instruments for Evaluation of the Governance of the Nordic Arctic. Workshop II: Advancing Elderly People’s Agency and Inclusion in the Changing Arctic and Nordic Welfare System (AEPA-Wel). Umeå: 18 -19 October 2017 (accepted for publication in NEW CHALLENGES TO AGEING IN THE RURAL NORTH: WELFARE, GENDER AND VOICE A CRITICAL INTERDISCIPLINARY PERSPECTIVE. Eds: Päivi Naskali, Joan Harbison and Shahnaj Begum, Springer in 2018).