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International Journal of the Sociology of Language

Founded by Fishman, Joshua A.

Ed. by Duchêne, Alexandre / Coulmas, Florian

CiteScore 2018: 1.10

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2018: 1.062
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2018: 0.933

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Volume 2009, Issue 200


Positioning age: focus group discussions about older people in TV advertising

Virpi Ylänne / Angie Williams
Published Online: 2009-12-03 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/IJSL.2009.050


As part of a larger research project on images of older people (the over sixties) in UK advertising, this article reports findings from a focus group study in which participants discussed their views on seven TV advertisements depicting older people as central characters. These were selected from a sample of TV ads broadcast in the United Kingdom between 1999 and 2004, and included a range of positive, humorous, negative, and vulnerable depictions. A total of nine focus groups each comprised of three subgroups: young, middle-aged, and older adults. In addition to the ads themselves, our analysis centers on the participants' reactions to the ads. Our focus is on the discursive positioning of the discussants vis-à-vis the ads in terms of age stereotypes and age identity constructions for self and other. Participants not only comment on any perceived depictions of older age, they also position themselves, and others, age-wise, in relation to the depictions, and at times use their age identifications as discursive means to account for their views. The focus on how viewers align with these types of ads can be seen as an important addition to previous research on images of aging in advertising, as well as on talk about age. In our analysis, we make use of the theoretical notions of discursive construction of age and positioning theory.

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Published Online: 2009-12-03

Published in Print: 2009-11-01

Citation Information: International Journal of the Sociology of Language, Volume 2009, Issue 200, Pages 171–187, ISSN (Online) 1613-3668, ISSN (Print) 0165-2516, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/IJSL.2009.050.

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