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Representations of age discrimination in law and media

Conference contribution
Authors Eva-Maria Svensson
Maria Edström
Published in IAGG-ER Conference 2019
Publication year 2019
Published at Department of Journalism, Media and Communication (JMG)
Department of Law
Centre for Ageing and Health (Agecap)
Language en
Subject categories Law and Society, Media Studies


Objectives: This paper explores representations of ageing in age discrimination court cases and how they are represented in media. These cases, together with the media coverage of the cases, and the newspaper reporting on the role of the Discrimination Ombudsman (DO), are the empirical material. The research questions are What narratives of age and employment become visible in the texts? What other factors interacts with age, such as gender, profession and ethnicity? How does these representations relate to the ongoing challenge to society labour availability for older people and the use/misuse of their human capital and competences? In 2019, ten years have passed since age became one of the protected discrimination grounds in the Swedish Discrimination Act. The Swedish welfare state is considered to be a good place to grow old within, ranked as number three in the Global Agewatch Index 2015. At the same time, Sweden was one of the last countries in EU to explicitly include age discrimination in legislation. Since 2009, reports of presumed age discrimination have been filed at the Discrimination Ombudsman. Even though the amount of reports has been around two hundred every year, very few cases have been brought to action within the legal system. Theories and methods: The approach is interdisciplinary and takes its starting point in Sen and Nussbaum’s Capabilities Approach. Capability refer to the individual’s ability to perform actions in order to reach goals he or she has reason to value. Here, in this paper focus is on factors on the macro level; application of laws that affects working older people and representations of media of these issues. Together they form narratives of ageing and age discrimination. Results: The interest for age discrimination in media has, during the same period of time, been quite weak. The number of articles is low both specifically on these cases as well as on age discrimination in general. Conclusion: Representations of age in law and media may preserve ageism, by not being reflective and critical.

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