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Visibility patterns of gendered ageism in the media buzz: a study of the representation of gender and age over three decades

Journal article
Authors Maria Edström
Published in Feminist Media Studies
Volume 18
Issue 1
Pages 77-93
ISSN 1468-0777
Publication year 2018
Published at Department of Journalism, Media and Communication (JMG)
Centre for Ageing and Health (Agecap)
Pages 77-93
Language en
Keywords Images of ageing, media representation, ageism, media buzz, gender, agecap
Subject categories Gender Studies, Media and Communications, Older people and ageing


The mainstream media provides a constant flow of visual images of men and women, whether it is via newscasts, billboards, magazines, or television. In media research, these different media types are usually investigated separately. The aim of this study is to analyse the accumulated gender representation of all images that we passively or actively take part in, here defined as “the media buzz.” To capture the representation of gender and age in the media buzz, this study focuses on images from one day in the most circulated media within Sweden: news, feature stories, fiction, and advertising. The empirical data is drawn from three different decades—1994, 2004, and 2014. Overall, the study indicates there to be a general male/female balance in terms of numbers. However, when turning older, both men and women become almost invisible, even though older men are more visible than older women. Older persons rarely reach the news and they are more likely to be found in advertising and feature material. The work presented here suggests that the structures of visibility and the clusters of gender-age representation in the media foster stereotyping. The media buzz not only contributes to ageism, but is also still distinctly gendered.

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