The Complexity of Ageism. A Proposed Typology

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Lars Tornstam

Abstract

Comparing data from a contemporary (2002) study and a study from 1984, it was found that, now as then, people display seemingly contradictory constellations of attitudes toward old people. Large proportions of respondents, now as then, advocate more influence and space for the 65+ group, at the same time as many feel that no one in the parliament should be above the age of 65. This contradiction becomes intelligible when the conceptions of and behavioral dispositions toward old people are combined in a new proposed typology of ageism, which is the result of a study conducted in 2002 and reported in this article. This new typology includes the Pitying Positive, the No Fuzz, the Consistently Negative and the Consistently Positive. These types are empirically described, and use of the typology is exemplified by focusing on ageist attitudes toward parliament membership.

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