Is part of ageism actually ableism? | The impact of age stereotypes and age norms on employees’ retirement choices: a neglected aspect of research on extended working lives
Is part of ageism actually ableism?
Van der Horst, M., & Vickerstaff, S. (2021). Is part of ageism actually ableism? Ageing and Society, 1-12. Open Access.
Ageism is a widely used term that is not (yet) well understood. We propose a redefinition of ageism and to separate it from ableism. We believe this to be important as remedies may depend on whether someone is experiencing ageism or ableism. While focusing the discussion on older workers as a sub-group of older people who (can) experience ageism, we assess the usefulness of critical (feminist) disability studies for ageism research. We hope that redefining ageism and analytically separating it from ableism (without suggesting that both concepts should be studied independently from one another) will provide guidance for researchers who study ageism and will allow for more specific policy guidance on how to solve difficulties experienced by older workers.
Impact of age stereotypes and age norms on employees’ retirement choices
Van der Horst, M., & Vickerstaff, S. (2021). The impact of age stereotypes and age norms on employees’ retirement choices: a neglected aspect of research on extended working lives. Frontiers in Sociology, Vol 6, p 115, 01 June 2021
This article examines how older workers employ internalized age norms and perceptions when thinking about extending their working lives or retirement timing. It draws on semi-structured interviews with employees (n = 104) and line managers, human resource managers and occupational health specialists (n = 52) from four organisations in the United Kingdom. Previous research has demonstrated discrimination against older workers but this is a limiting view of the impact that ageism may have in the work setting. Individuals are likely to internalize age norms as older people have lived in social contexts in which negative images of what it means to be “old” are prevalent. These age perceptions are frequently normalized (taken for granted) in organisations and condition how people are managed and crucially how they manage themselves. How older workers and managers think and talk about age is another dynamic feature of decision making about retirement with implications for extending working lives. Amongst our respondents it was widely assumed that older age would come with worse health—what is more generally called the decline narrative – which served both as a motivation for individuals to leave employment to maximize enjoyment of their remaining years in good health as well as a motivation for some other individuals to stay employed in order to prevent health problems that might occur from an inactive retirement. Age norms also told some employees they were now “too old” for their job, to change job, for training and/or promotion and that they should leave that “to the younger ones”—what we call a sense of intergenerational disentitlement. The implications of these processes for the extending working lives agenda are discussed.