‘Positive Images’ and Calendars: Explorations in ‘Agelessness’ or ‘Ambiguous’ Identities?

  • Eileen Fairhurst


The rise of postmodernist approaches to the study of ageing has brought to the fore the cultural perspective and, thereby, problematized the dominance of medical discourses. Amongst other matters, post-modernism has introduced to the academy exploration of strategies of age resistance and age denial and the tensions between them. This has led to an ongoing debate focusing on these matters (Andrews, 1999; 2000; Bytheway, 2000) which, more recently, has been articulated in terms of an anti-ageing enterprise (Vincent, Tulle and Bond, 2008). For instance, Andrews’ (1999) critique of ‘agelessness’ addresses a constructionist approach to age. She notes that, for adherents of this approach, ‘[a]ge as a category in itself … is obsolete; old age is thus merely a psychological state’ (Andrews, 1999: 302). Consequently, years lived by old people are ‘erased’ and they are ‘stripped’ of their ‘history’. For Andrews (1999: 301), declarations of ‘being as old as I feel’ are ‘the product of a society which tells us that age — old age — is something to be transcended, if at all possible’. Participants in Andrews’ study articulated their current self in terms of their previous self. A different perspective on the self of older individuals is offered by a discourse analysis of ageing and identity. (For a recent example of this see the special issue of Ageing and Society edited by Coupland, 2009a).


Physical Appearance Positive Image Older People Rugby Player Rugby Union 
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© Eileen Fairhurst 2012

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  • Eileen Fairhurst

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