Television for elderly people – University of Copenhagen

Ageing and old age in the media and elderly people’s media use

Television for elderly people

Project Leader: Line Nybro Petersen

The project consists of a production study and textual analysis. Through analysis of channel programme flow and productions studies I will investigate how processes in TV-production contribute to maintaining and transforming representations and praxises of ageing and old age, which are circulated on the Danish channel TV2 Charlie. Furthermore I will conduct textual analysis of selected programmes from TV2 Charlie in order to understand which representations of ageing and old age appear in the programmes, but also to understand how elderly are talked to and about.

TV2 Charlie is selected for analyses, because the channel (and its success) contributes to underpin societal changes that representations of elderly people currently undergo in a Danish cultural setting. TV2 Charlie emphasises how an elderly population is considered a specific and attractive target audience (Søndergaard 2004). TV2 Charlie as an example furthermore highlights a duality in current society. In targeting a broad older audience (+65 years) they affirm an understanding of elderly people’s viewing preferences as homogenous, while simultaneously representing a break with traditional thinking about ageing and old age, sustaining the notion that this life phase undergoes individualization. And that media support this process of individualization.

The project applies mediatization theory (Hjarvard 2008, 2008a; Lundby 2009) to grasp these processes. The theory puts light on the role of production processes in media logic (Altheide & Snow 1979), and broader sociological theory contributes to an understanding of these processes in a modern societal context, while cultural gerontology provides a nuanced understanding of concepts such as elderly people, old age and ageing. The project aims both to understand how representations of elderly people are established and negotiated in a continuous cooperation with the editorial team, the participants, existing cultural expectations (Rørbye 1995), the genre of programmes and the channel profile. Media logic, then, becomes a concept that covers specific institutional production praxises.