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Age and stockphotos debated in the the news

by on March 11, 2015

I have just been listening to a debate about the use of stock images on the Radio 4 media show and Ros Altmann’s concerns that these often show ‘decrepit’ images.  She seemed particularly concerned when images of much older people are used to represent the young-old, people in their fifties for instance.

It therefore seems particularly ironic that the Daily Telegraph have chosen one of the very images Ros Altmann was complaining about to illustrate an article about her recent report of ageism at work.  Sadly the article doesn’t point out the ironic nature of their picture selection.  For many who just view headlines and the image when browsing the web, the challenge posed in the article will completely pass them by.

It was also ironic that Ros Altmann complained about the classification of older workers as starting at 50.  It is in part her own role that highlights and uses this classification – as we have pointed out on this blog before.  We also pointed out the ‘coincidence’ of her previous role at Saga and their use of 50 to denote ‘older’.

We have researched the impact of stock images in our soon to be published paper in the journal Gender Work and Organization – watch this space for more information.  In this paper we also draw attention to the stock images which negatively stereotype younger people.  On this blog, we have also highlighted that ‘positive’ images can sometimes be as problematic as negative ones – as in our review of the ‘jumping for joy’ picture used on the Older Person’s Day website.

Stock images are problematic we agree – but they are problematic in their portrayal of many different age groups not to mention gender and other classifications.

I very much enjoyed Dame Joan Bakewell and Alexander Chancellor, editor of ‘The Oldie’ discussing age related issues.  When asked about how they felt they both replied that they felt ‘like me’ and highlighted to huge diversity of any age group and its representation should reflect this.


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