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Publication Detail
Fourth ageism: Real and imaginary old age
This paper is concerned with the issue of ageism and its salience in current debates about the COVID-19 pandemic. In it, we address the question of how best to interpret the impact that the pandemic has had on the older population. While many feel angry at what they see as discriminatory lock-down practices confining older people to their homes, others are equally concerned by the failure of state responses to protect and preserve the health of older people, especially those receiving long-term care. This contrast in framing ageist responses to the pandemic, we suggest, arises from differing social representations of later life, reflecting the selective foregrounding of third versus fourth age imaginaries. Recognising the tension between social and biological parameters of ageing and its social categorisations, we suggest, may offer a more measured, as well as a less discriminatory, approach to addressing the selective use of chronological age as a line of demarcation within society.
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