Ageism and Employment: Controversies, Ambiguities and Younger People's Perceptions

Colin Duncan, Phil White, Wendy Loretto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

This paper traces the emergence and evolution of the concept of ageism with
respect to employment matters in the UK, and challenges some features of the
emerging concept as defective and undermining of efforts to eradicate age
discrimination in employment. Also revealed is some loosening in recent years
of the association of the term `ageism' with older employees. This latter
observation informed the focus of our empirical work, which examined the
views of 460 Business Studies students concerning age and employment. A
signi®cant proportion had experienced ageism directly in employment, and a
large majority favoured the introduction of legislative protection against age
discrimination, with blanket coverage irrespective of age. Though negative
stereotypes regarding older workers were by no means uncommon among the
sample, little ®rm evidence emerged of intergenerational tensions or
resentment towards older people. The concluding section considers the policy
implications of our ®ndings, including the relative merits of weighting policy
responses towards older employees. It is argued that initiatives restricted in
this way, and further constrained by commercial imperatives and macroeconomic
objectives, are likely to prove divisive and self-defeating as a means
of combating ageism.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)279-302
Number of pages24
JournalAgeing & Society
Volume20
Publication statusPublished - 8 Sept 2000

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • discrimination, ageism

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