Age coding: On age-based practices of distinction

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Clary Krekula


In this article I discuss how conceptions of age create individuals’ subjective experiences of old age. I introduce the concept of age coding and argue that it should be understood as referring to practices of distinction that are based on and preserve representations of actions, phenomena, and characteristics as associated with and applicable to demarcated ages. The article illustrates how age codes can be used (1) as age norms; (2) to legitimize, negotiate and regulate symbolic and material resources; (3) as a resource in interactions; as well as (4) to create age-based norms and deviance. This broad application means that the concept should be understood as a tool for analyzing age relations generally.


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