Research question Age and Media – University of Copenhagen

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

The project examines the representation of ageing and old age in the media and the importance of media to elderly people’s everyday life. The project studies both the media representations and notions of ageing and elderly people and the ways in which elderly people experience and ‘negotiate’ such representations. The project will shed light on elderly people’s media use in order to discuss to what extent elderly people’s media practices create, maintain or perhaps change traditional notions of ageing and old age.

The project is carried out in close collaboration between media scholars and scholars from cultural gerontology. The aim is to integrate a cultural gerontological perspective in media studies to nuance the knowledge of media as social and cultural resources in elderly people’s lives. Similarly, a media perspective is informing cultural gerontology in order to identify the media’s representations of what it is to be and become old.

The empirical sample consists of TV and radio programmes, weekly magazines, websites, social and mobile media as well as of systematically collected everyday experiences among spry and impaired, well and less well-to-do elderly men and women. Methodologically, the study makes use of qualitative methods such as production studies, program analyses, text analyses, observation studies, and individual and focus group interviews.

Research questions

The project poses two general research questions reflecting a double perspective on the problem: media representations of elderly people and elderly people’s everyday experiences and practices with the media:

• How are ageing and old age represented in media of today?

This will be studied with a focus on TV and radio programmes for elderly people, weekly magazines and internet sites particularly relevant to elderly people.

• How do elderly people use and experience media, both traditional mass media and digital, social and mobile media?

This will be studied with a focus on elderly people’s use of mobile telephone, PC and tablets, magazines, TV and radio programmes,

The overall aim is to make visible the current transformation processes in relation to media, ageing and old age and to provide a qualified basis for understanding future changes in this area.