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Session Overview
RN01_05a_IC: Portrayal of Old Age
Thursday, 31/Aug/2017:
11:00am - 12:30pm

Session Chair: Jenni Spännäri, University of Helsinki
Location: Intercontinental - Ypsilon III
Athenaeum Intercontinental Hotel Syngrou Avenue 89-93 Athens, Greece Floor: Level 1

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Constructions of loneliness in Swedish and Danish daily-press

Axel Agren, Elisabet Cedersund, Christine Swane

Linköping University, Sweden

Loneliness among older people are highly present topics in mass media internationally, and on national levels in Denmark and Sweden. These two countries are commonly perceived as welfare ”models” with universal coverage enabled through high taxation. Despite this, loneliness among older people is often described as a widespread phenomenon in both countries. In two studies, we will examine how loneliness among older people is constructed in Sweden and Denmark, respectively. Particular focus will be on how loneliness is described, how each society should ”tackle” loneliness and which actors that are designated responsibility for working with the issue. Conducting these type of studies have several motives: 1. Mass media has a significant impact on how loneliness and older people are constructed and perceived. Constructions which, in turn, has an impact on how older people understand and evaluate their own life situation. 2. There is, since several years back, a demand for studies on how loneliness is constructed in different societal contexts. 3. Studies of this kind raises the question of differences in how loneliness, which commonly is understood as a universal and inevitable human experience, is constructed between two countries that, internationally, are perceived as similar, regarding organization of their welfare institutions. 4. These studies also highlights the concept of Aging Enterprise, central to critical gerontology, which can be used to understand how policies, programs, care provision and industries may contribute to socially produce dependency among older people.

On temporal regimes and (un)marked age in grey dancing: A problematization of age power

Clary Krekula

Karlstad University, Sweden

Comprehensive research has argued that analyses of ageing and older people’s every day life conditions need to be based on age as a power relation. Despite this, age theories have only to a limited extent contributed to the problematization of age power, which has restricted empirical analyses of older people’s conditions. This paper aims to illustrate and discuss different forms of age power, starting out from critical age studies which emphasise that theorization of age cannot be based on delimited age categories but needs to be based on empirical studies on the entire age span of the life course.

The paper is based on analyses of qualitative interviews with 33 older persons whose main leisure activity is dancing, and with 11 organizers of dance events for older people as well as observations of 14 such events. Analyses of the temporal and choreographic organization illustrate that older people’s dancing is marked, i.e. is presented as a deviating form of dancing while dancing for younger age groups is given a position as an unproblematized normality, and that younger age groups are presented as the age normality, i.e. as (un)marked age. Finally, the paper argues that temporality and choreography are examples of non-verbal practises which operate in the processes where age relations are created and maintained. The role which the concept pair marked/un marked age may have in analyses of age power and older people’s social conditions is also discussed.

Portraying elderly people through video games. Gameplay and the procedural rhetoric of ageing

Cosima Rughinis, Elisabeta Toma

University of Bucharest, Romania

In previous decades, games were mostly designed by teams of young men, for imagined young male players, mostly with male playable characters and a restricted repertoire of secondary characters and tropes for different genders and age groups. In recent years we witness an ever higher diversity of game players, designers and characters (Williams et al, 2009). Correspondingly, there is increased scholarship on gender and video games and, to less extent, on ageing and old age as experienced through gameplay. We take this dialogue further by examining a variety of games designed for older and younger audiences, proposing a typology of elderly game characters in relation with their imagined players. We study games ranging from minute-length art games or casual mobile games to indie creations such as '80 Days', 'To the moon' and 'The way of life', and larger scale gameworlds such as Dragon Age. By virtue of interactivity and procedural rhetoric (Bogost 2006, 2008), games offer specific means to portray characters and their adventures. We thus propose and illustrate a typology of game-specific representations of ageing and the elderly. We also discuss a double standard of ageing (Sontag 1972) in game worlds, comparing older male and female characters. At the same time, while games designed within a feminist and gender-aware frame often feature women characters, games designed within an ageing-aware frame tend to focus on repairing their imagined players’ cognitive abilities, rather than engaging them with a meaningful narrative involving older characters and/or experiences of ageing. We thus observe here a bifurcated trajectory in game design diversity.

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