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Off to Gender, Work and Organization conference

by on June 20, 2014

We are excited to be off to the Gender, Work & Organization conference next week.  We’ll be taking a short break from blogging but will be back 1st July.

Here’s our abstract:

Weary Women? Re-constructing retirement in the 21st century

Dr Katrina Pritchard and Dr Rebecca Whiting

Our paper unpacks the construction of the ‘Weary’ (Working, Entrepreneurial and Active Retirees), a term coined in a 2012 study1 for Friends Life (a UK Pensions Company) to refer to a group in later life who find it hard to get paid employment because of their age but who cannot afford to retire.  We are particularly concerned with the gendered representation of ‘Wearies’ within UK press coverage of this report.

Understandings of retirement in western cultures have been based on male career patterns and a demarcation of work and non-work contexts (Loretto and Vickerstaff, 2013).  There have been many calls for research into the nature of retirement for women (see for example August, 2011 ,Calasanti, 1996).  More recently, discourse analytic research has unpacked ‘successful ageing’ (Rozanova, 2010, Rudman, 2006) as part of a wider examination of the ‘responsibilitization agenda’ (Asquith, 2009) for older workers.  Of particular relevance is Rudman & Molke’s (2009) examination of how ‘productive ageing’ is discursively shaped in media texts, particularly the promotion of possible identities.

Analytically we specifically focus on the media coverage to the ‘Weary’ report1.  We offer a review of this coverage before moving specifically to unpack the visual representations of ‘weary women’ in UK online news articles.  In doing so, we offer both our own analysis of these images whilst also reviewing the responses of 23 participants who took part in group photo-elicitation exercises, thus allowing us to explore their consumption (Frosh, 2002).  Therefore based on Meyer et al.’s (2013) recent categorisation, our research incorporates both ‘archaeological’ and ‘dialogic’ methodological approaches to visual research.

Rämö suggests that “today’s hyper-mediated society, images are in higher circulation than words and print, and there is a shifting relationship between word and image” (2011, p. 374).  Although Potter (1996), amongst others, noted the importance of visual rhetoric, the inclusion of visual analysis within a broader discursive approach is still relatively uncommon, with management studies being described as having a “blind spot” to the visual aspects of organizational life (Strangleman, 2004, p. 179).  The images under investigation are stock images, which are commercial or library photographs, often found on websites, news articles and company reports (Ward, 2007).  This photographic genre is a neglected but significant (Feighery, 2009, Frosh, 2001)since it is suggested that “we gradually come to accept them as showing us how the world really is” (Machin and Van Leeuwen, 2007 p. 157).  Visual research has previously attended to images of age (Nosek et al., 2002, Roberts and Zhou, 1997, Robinson et al., 2008, Williams et al., 2010) and gender (Benschop and Meihuizen, 2002, Bujaki and McConomy, 2010, Duff, 2011), but despite its development as emergent critical research area in organisation studies, visual studies of gendered ageing have yet to be published.

Our analysis thus unpacks different dimensions of the discursive (including visual) construction of ‘weary’ women, with a particular focus on the different (working) identities that are being offered to older women through media texts and images, as well as a critical analysis of the notion of retirement as currently constructed.


  1. Report available from (last accessed 22/10/2013):



Asquith, N. 2009. Positive ageing, neoliberalism and Australian sociology. Journal of Sociology, 45, 3, 255-269.

August, R. A. 2011. Women’s Later Life Career Development: Looking Through the Lens of the Kaleidoscope Career Model. Journal of Career Development, 38, 3, 208-236.

Benschop, Y. & Meihuizen, H. E. 2002. Keeping up gendered appearances: representations of gender in financial annual reports. Accounting, Organizations and Society, 27, 7, 611-636.

Bujaki, M. L. & McConomy, B. J. 2010. Gendered interactions in corporate annual report photographs. Gender in Management: An International Journal, 25, 2, 119-136.

Calasanti, T. M. 1996. Gender and life satisfaction in retirement: An assessment of the male model. Journals of Gerontology Series B-Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences, 51, 1, S18-S29.

Duff, A. 2011. Big four accounting firms’ annual reviews: A photo analysis of gender and race portrayals. Critical Perspectives on Accounting, 22, 1, 20-38.

Feighery, W. 2009. Tourism, stock photography and surveillance: a Foucauldian interpretation. Journal of Tourism and Cultural Change, 7, 3, 161-178.

Frosh, P. 2001. Inside the image factory: stock photography and cultural production.  Media, Culture & Society,, 23, 5, 625-646.

Frosh, P. 2002. Rhetorics of the Overlooked: On the communicative modes of stock advertising images. Journal of Consumer Culture, 2, 2, 171-196.

Loretto, W. & Vickerstaff, S. 2013. The domestic and gendered context for retirement. Human Relations, 66, 1, 65-86.

Machin, D. & Van Leeuwen, T. 2007. Global Media Discourse: A critical introduction, Abingdon, Oxon, Routledge.

Meyer, R. E., Höllerer, M. A., Jancsary, D. & Van Leeuwen, T. 2013. The Visual Dimension in Organizing, Organization, and Organization Research: Core Ideas, Current Developments, and Promising Avenues. The Academy of Management Annals, 7, 1, 489-555.

Nosek, B. A., Banaji, M. R. & Greenwald, A. G. 2002. Harvesting implicit group attitudes and beliefs from a demonstration web site. Group Dynamics-Theory Research and Practice, 6, 1, 101-115.

Potter, J. 1996. Representing reality: Discourse, rhetoric and social construction, London, Sage Publications.

Rämö, H. 2011. Visualizing the Phronetic Organization: The Case of Photographs in CSR Reports. Journal of Business Ethics, 104, 3, 371-387.

Roberts, S. D. & Zhou, N. 1997. The 50 and older characters in the advertisements of modern maturity: Growing older, getting better? Journal of Applied Gerontology, 16, 2, 208-220.

Robinson, T., Gustafson, B. & Popovich, M. 2008. Perceptions of negative stereotypes of older people in magazine advertisements: comparing the perceptions of older adults and college students. Ageing & Society, 28, 233-251.

Rozanova, J. 2010. Discourse of successful aging in The Globe & Mail: Insights from critical gerontology. Journal of Aging Studies, 24, 4, 213-222.

Rudman, D. L. 2006. Shaping the active, autonomous and responsible modern retiree: an analysis of discursive technologies and their links with neo-liberal political rationality. Ageing & Society, 26, 181-201.

Rudman, D. L. & Molke, D. 2009. Forever productive: The discursive shaping of later life workers in contemporary Canadian newspapers. Work-a Journal of Prevention Assessment & Rehabilitation, 32, 4, 377-389.

Strangleman, T. 2004. Ways of (not) seeing work: The visual as a blind spot in WES? Work, Employment & Society, 18, 1, 179-192.

Ward, C. G. 2007. Stock Images , Filler Content and the Ambiguous Corporate Message. Media Culture Journal, 10(5) (Electronic Journal) [Online]. Available: [Accessed 3rd July 2012].

Williams, A., Wadleigh, P. M. & Ylaenne, V. 2010. Images of older people in UK magazine advertising: Toward a typology. International Journal of Aging & Human Development, 71, 2, 83-114.

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  1. Hi Katrina, looks like a very interesting paper. I wonder if you are a member of the British Society of Gerontology ? We have a blog (Ageing Issues: ) and all members have author rights on the blog. A number of our members would be interested in this and it would be great to have you as a member and blogger.

  2. karen handley permalink

    Reblogged this on Transitions At Work.

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