Older Adults as Discursively Constructed in Taiwanese Newspapers: A Critical Discourse Analysis

Document Type: Research Paper

Author

National Pingtung University of Science and Technology, Taiwan

Abstract

This paper uses critical discourse analysis to examine discursive representations of older people in Taiwanese newspapers. A total of 926 references to older people were sampled from 62 articles published in four Taiwanese newspapers from January to August 2013. The findings suggest that, older people were frequently allocated roles suggestive of dependency. Those portrayed in line with the positive golden ager stereotype were more likely to be treated as identifiable individuals, via referential strategies including nomination, titulation, functionalization, and honorifics. People of very advanced ages, meanwhile, were often discussed in the contexts of problems or tragedies. On the whole, negative stereotypes of older people were dominant within the sample, and appeared to be treated as more newsworthy. The articles occasionally reported positive experiences of aging, but implied that, these were exceptional. The nature of older age and aging as discursively constructed in Taiwanese newspapers appears to be problematic for those seeking to build a less ageist society in Taiwan.

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