Canadian Media’s Discourse on Older Workers: Reinforcing the Dichotomy of “Good” vs. “Bad” Old Age?

By Martine Lagacé, Joelle Laplante and Isaac Nahon-Serfaty.

Published by The International Journal of Aging and Society

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The media are a powerful social agent that takes part in reflecting and shaping cultural beliefs of aging. Previous studies have shown that the media often portray the process of aging negatively and construct seniors' identity in a highly polarized manner. The current study aims at exploring the media’s perspective on aging, more precisely on aging at work. As older workers will constitute more than one third of the workforce in most industrialized countries by 2030, it is essential to understand how the media portray aging in the workplace, how they construct older workers’ identity and the extent to which they reproduce negative stereotypes of (retired) seniors. To do so, a quantitative and qualitative content analysis of the two main English and French Canadian newspapers (“The Globe and “Mail and La Presse”) was undertaken. A systematic sample of 251 articles (published between 2006 and 2010) were analyzed. Results suggest that the media discuss aging of the workforce in a mainly economic and demographic perspective and in especially negative terms. The identity of older workers is also highly polarized and masculinized, reinforcing the double standard of aging.

Keywords: Aging in the Workplace, Older Workers, Media, Content Analysis, Ageism, Successful Aging

The International Journal of Aging and Society, Volume 2, Issue 4, pp.17-33. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 380.377KB).

Dr. Martine Lagacé

Associate Professor, Department of Communication, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Martine Lagacé is an associate professor and chair of the Department of Communication, University of Ottawa in Canada. Dr. Lagacé, who holds a Ph.D. in social psychology, does research on intergenerational communication in the workplace, stereotypes based on age, identity and intergroup relations. She has been teaching research methods courses for the last several years. She also edited a book in 2010, published at Les Presses de l'Université Laval, entitled: L'âgisme, Comprendre et changer le regard sur le vieillissement. She has published in French and English in several academic journals such as les Cahiers internationaux de psychologie sociale and The International Journal of Aging & Human Development.

Dr. Joelle Laplante


University of Ottawa, Canada

Dr. Isaac Nahon-Serfaty


University of Ottawa, Canada