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Media, capability and ageing

Conference contribution
Authors Maria Edström
Annika Bergström
Published in Nordmedia 2019 Communication, Creativity and Imagination: Challenging the Field. Aug 21-23, Malmö
Publication year 2019
Published at Department of Journalism, Media and Communication (JMG)
Centre for Ageing and Health (Agecap)
Language en
Keywords ageing, capability, media, voice, representation, digital divides, media Information literacy
Subject categories Media and Communications

Abstract

Freedom of expression and freedom of information are core human rights values that are strongly connected to media and capability. In order to live your rights and be able to make choices to achieve your own goals you need to be informed, have voice and the possibility to engage. Many of us live in a mediatized society where much of our time is spent in front of different screens. Using and producing media is an important part of most people’s lives, and the demand for citizens to critically embrace media and information increases continuously, for all age groups. The process of media intertwining with people’s life and with societal functions is well captured by the theory of mediatization. For ageing and for older people, this means (1) media as institutions that influence the public agenda and notions of ageing and older people, and how older people are represented and perceived in society, and (2) media as tools for communication and interaction with both family and public services such as health care. A mediatized society may contribute to confirming or altering conceptions of what it means to become older. When growing older in a society, the media can be a tool for enhancing a person’s capability, but it can also be perceived as hindering a good life if the access of technology and its applications are perceived awkward and hard to access. The capabilities idea is closely linked to human development and to a concern with equality, that people are entitled to a certain level of resources and social equality. Some theories also emphasize the role of the institutions to provide conditions so that human beings can use their rights. Capability can be related to the concept of media and information literacy (MIL). MIL is about the ability to read the media language in a wide sense, about the consciousness of the social, political, cultural and economic factors behind media business and the messages distributed by media. Both UNESCO and the European Parliament states that that MIL is a necessary key competence in the information and communication society and crucial for democracy. In the context of capability, we address two main areas: language and representation, and engagement in media from the individual’s point of view. The former relates to the responsibility of media corporations to target and reach audiences of all ages, and who should be accountable and held responsible for the lack of diverse stories on older people in the media. The latter refers to accessing goods and services online and to questions of choosing not to have or to use media. What if you, for instance, do not want to be digital? Older adults are a challenging group for policymakers who aim for full digital inclusion. To achieve societal goals with regard to media and older citizens in relation to capability, a wider discussion of responsibility for different areas is crucial.

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