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Tuesday, April 1, 2014

In Canada, Do We LIve in An Ageist Society

Controversy: Do we live in an Ageist Society[1]

         “. David Sheffield says that introductory gerontology  texts often give ‘ …the impression that a negative attitude toward elderly people is rampant in the United States and presumably in other western countries. (1982, 267).  He goes on to say that these texts exaggerate the amount of prejudice against older people in North America.  Review articles and studies by well-known gerontologists  find little evidence for this supposed prejudice.  Studies show that older people maintain good relations with their families, receive many services from the government, and get preferred treatment from restaurants, banks and airlines”.

         “Schonfield’s own research shows that people have both positive and negative attitudes toward old age and ageing.  He found that between 20 and 77 percent of his sample agreed with stereotypes about older people, but many of these same people said that the statement applied to only a portion of the older population.
He says that ‘ at most one in five participants could be convicted [ of stereotyping.]  
         Schonfield’s research shows the danger of generalizing about attitudes toward older people.  Still, his research shows that some portion ( as many as one in five) do stereotype older people.  More education and information about aging might improve attitudes toward older people.

         Can you find examples of ageist attitudes or behaviours  toward older people? Can you find examples of positive attitudes and behaviours  toward older people?  Do you agree with Schonfield’s conclusion that gerontologists sometimes exaggerate the extent of ageism in Canadian Society?

[1]  Novak, M. & Campell, L. (2001).  Aging and Society a Canadian Perspective, (2001)  Controversy: Do we live in an Ageist Society?
Exhibit 1.4 Page 11/

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