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Challenging ‘lazy’ assumptions about age

by on June 6, 2014

Looking at possible items to blog about today, I realised there was a theme running through several stories that had caught my attention in the last couple of days. And that theme can be summarised as ‘lazy’ assumptions about age.

First, there was an age-limited call on LinkedIn from the Qualitative Research Consultants Association. The QRCA is offering its first-ever ‘Young Professionals Grant (YPG)’ which it says ‘will offer enthusiastic young qualitative research professionals the opportunity to attend the association’s 2014 annual conference in New Orleans’. Only those aged 35 years or younger can apply.  Now since it says its aim is to ‘bring new people into qualitative research and provide…opportunity to allow them to grow in their expertise’ I have posted a comment on their LinkedIn page asking why the grant couldn’t be offered to those who are ‘early career’. (No vested interest on my part as I’ve been doing qualitative research consultancy for years). But we’ve seen (and tackled) this sort of lazy conflation of age and career stage before.

Second, this opinion piece on the Reuters website argues that Silicon Valley’s ageist culture is bad for both workers and business. But it ends with a quote (not challenged) about how older workers have knowledge about manufacturing process but young workers know the new technologies, thus lazily reproducing a very stereotypical portrayal for both age groups which benefits neither.

And third, this piece by Grace Dent in The Independent in which she referred to UK baby boomers as the ‘luckiest people people alive’. She was taken to task here in the letters page of the paper a couple of days later, with her description of ‘lucky Baby Boomers’ branded as a ‘lazy label’  – and pointing out the class and country differences for those born within the so-called Boomer years.

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