Definition of Ageism
(noun) Discrimination or prejudice against an individual or group because of their age.
Examples of Ageism
- Not hiring older individuals because of preconceived notions that their abilities will be lacking.
- Not hiring young individuals because an employer thinks they are immature based on age regardless of personality and experience.
- Disregarding or speaking over the elderly due to the notion that their opinions have no value.
Types of Ageism
- Ageism can be broken down further into age discrimination and age prejudice. Age discrimination is the act and age prejudice is the attitude (Andersen and Taylor 2011:92).
Etymology of Ageism
- Term coined by Robert Neil Butler (1927–2010), director of the American Institute of Aging. Butler won a Pulitzer Prize for Why Survive? Being Old in America in 1976.
- American English – /AY-jiz-uhm/
- British English – /AY-ji-zuhm/
International Phonetic Alphabet
- American English – /ˈeɪdʒˌɪz(ə)m/
- British English – /ˈeɪdʒɪz(ə)m/
- Status offenses can be viewed as a type of ageism.
- Ageism can lead to age stratification and a roleless role.
- A type of discrimination, ecological fallacy, and prejudice.
- Variant spelling: agism
- “Ageism against older persons is rooted in the assumption that people become unattractive, unintelligent, asexual, unemployable, and mentally incompetent as they grow older” (Kendall 2006:101).
- “Ageism, like other expressions of prejudice, may have some foundation in reality. Statistically speaking, old people are more likely than young people to be mentally and physically impaired. But we slip into ageism when we make unwarranted generalisations about an entire category of people, most of whom do not conform to the stereotypes” (Macionis and Plummer 2012:418).
- “In our society [United States], one of the most difficult transitions is the passage to old age. We are taught to fear aging in this society, and many people spend a lot of time and money trying to keep looking young. Unlike many other societies, ours does not revere the elderly, but instead devalues them, making the aging process even more difficult” (Andersen and Taylor 2011:91).
- “Prejudice against the elderly is prominent. The elderly are often thought of as childlike and thus incapable of adult responsibility. Prejudice relegates people to a perceived lower status in society and stems from the stereotypes associated with different age groups” (Andersen and Taylor 2011:92).
- “While youth and vitality are highly valued commodities in a postindustrial society, life expectancies and prospects for good health are extended. Consequently, people can be expected to work longer if they choose. Moreover, with less emphasis on work and more on service and play, postindustrial societies may offer the elderly a vast array of meaningful social roles outside the world of work” (Thompson and Hickey 2012:339).
- Aging and Social Gerontology Resources – Books, Journals, and Helpful Links
- Word origin of “ageism” – Online Etymology Dictionary: etymonline.com
- Bytheway, Bill. 1995. Ageism. Bristol, PA: Open University Press.
- Gullette, Margaret Morganroth. 2011. Agewise: Fighting the New Ageism in America. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
- Levin, Jack. 2013. Blurring the Boundaries: The Declining Significance of Age. London: Routledge.
- Nelson, Todd D., ed. 2002. Ageism: Stereotyping and Prejudice Against Older Persons. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
- Palmore, Erdman Ballagh, Laurence G. Branch, and Diana K. Harris, eds. 2005. Encyclopedia of Ageism. Binghamton, NY: Haworth Pastoral Press.
- Sargeant, Malcolm, ed. 2011. Age Discrimination and Diversity: Multiple Discrimination from an Age Perspective. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
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Cite the Definition of Ageism
ASA – American Sociological Association (5th edition)
Bell, Kenton, ed. 2013. “ageism.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Retrieved April 1, 2023 (https://sociologydictionary.org/ageism/).
APA – American Psychological Association (6th edition)
ageism. (2013). In K. Bell (Ed.), Open education sociology dictionary. Retrieved from https://sociologydictionary.org/ageism/
Chicago/Turabian: Author-Date – Chicago Manual of Style (16th edition)
Bell, Kenton, ed. 2013. “ageism.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Accessed April 1, 2023. https://sociologydictionary.org/ageism/.
MLA – Modern Language Association (7th edition)
“ageism.” Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Ed. Kenton Bell. 2013. Web. 1 Apr. 2023. <https://sociologydictionary.org/ageism/>.