Growing old with and via media


  • Sara Mosberg Iversen University of Southern Denmark
  • Anne Leonora Blaakilde Region Zealand
  • Monika Wilińska Jönköping University
  • Kjetil Sandvik Department of Media, Cognition and Communication, University of Copenhagen



old age, older adults, media, daily life, representation


What we understand at any given time as “old age” may seem to have a very straightforward and factual base. Yet, in the words of Simone de Beauvoir, “as far as our own species is concerned old age is by no means easy to define” (de Beauvoir, 1996, p. 9). Even the most positivist sciences have to admit that old age is a “a heterogeneous event that some individuals tolerate better than others” (Balcombe & Sinclair, 2001, p. 845). That is, “old age” as a biological and physiological phenomenon has many and variable causes that may become visible at differing points in individual lives. Moreover, the phenomenon of ageing cannot be explained by any one universal theory (Balcombe & Sinclair, 2001, pp. 845-846). What it means to be old in a particular society at any given time is, thus, a matter of social and cultural construction that may vary greatly from place to place and at different historical times (Hazan, 1994). 

Author Biographies

Sara Mosberg Iversen, University of Southern Denmark

Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department for the Study of Culture - Media Science

Anne Leonora Blaakilde, Region Zealand

Ph.D., Senior Researcher

Monika Wilińska, Jönköping University

Ph.D., Senior Researcher, Department of Behavioural Science and Social work, School of Health and Welfare


Balcombe, N., & Sinclair, A. (2001). Ageing: Definitions, mechanisms and the magnitude of the problem. Best Practices and Research Clinical Gastroenterology, 15(6), 835-849. doi:10.1053/bega.2001.0244

Blaakilde, A. L. (2004). Løber tiden fra Kronos? Om kronologiseringens betydning for forestillinger om alder. Tidsskrift for kulturforskning, 3(1), 67-85.

Blaakilde, A. L. (2017). The becoming of radio bodies. European Journal of Cultural Studies. doi:10.1177/1367549417708437

de Beauvoir, S. (1996). The coming of age (P. O'Brian, Trans.). New York: W. W. Norton & Company.

European Commission. (2015). Media use in the European Union. Retrieved from

Gilleard, C., & Higgs, P. (2010). Ageing without agency: Theorizing the fourth age. Aging & Mental Health, 14(2), 121–128.

Hagberg, J.-E. (2012). Being the oldest old in a shifting technology landscape. In E. Loos, L. Haddon, & E. Mante-Meijer (Eds.), Generational use of new media (pp. 89-106). Farnham: Ashgate.

Hazan, H. (1994). Old age: Constructions and deconstructions. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Iversen, S. M., & Wilinska, M. (2016). Media Representations of Older Adults from 2000-2015: An Overview of the Research. Paper presented at the The Social in the Media, the Media in the Social: The Annual Meeting of SMID 2016, Middelfart.

Lee, M., B., Carpenter, B., & Meyers, L. (2007). Representations of older adults in television advertisements. Journal of Aging Studies, 21(1), 23-30. doi:10.1016/j.jaging.2006.04.001

Lemish, D., & Muhlbauer, V. (2012). “Can't have it all”: Representations of older women in popular culture. Women & Therapy, 35(3-4), 165-180. doi:10.1080/02703149.2012.684541

Low, J., & Dupuis-Blanchard, S. (2013). From zoomers to geezerade: Representations of the aging body in ageist and consumerist society. Societies, 3(1), 55-65. doi:10.3390/soc3010052

Mason, S., Darnell, E., & Prifti, K. (2010). Stereotypes and representations of aging in the media. Journal of Instructional Psychology, 37(2), 189-190.

McHugh, K. E. (2003). Three faces of ageism: Society, image and place. Ageing and Society, 23(2), 165-185. doi:10.1017/S0144686X02001113

Olsson, T., Samuelsson, U., & Viscovi, D. (2016). Senior citizens’ ICT cccess, use and literacy: How material resources matter. Paper presented at the 6th European Communication Conference, Prague.

Pendergast, D., & Garanttini, C. (Eds.). (2015). Aging and the Digital Life Course (Vol. 3). New York: Berghan.

Schreurs, K., & Quan-Haase, A. (2017). Problematizing the digital literacy paradox in the context of older adults’ ICT use: Aging, media discourse, and self-determination. Canadian Journal of Communication, 42(2), 359-377.

Sciplino, C., Smith, P., Hurme, H., Rusek, M., & Bäckvik, P. (2010). Representations of grandparents in children's books in Britain, Italy, Greece, Finland, and Poland. Journal of Intergenerational Relationships, 8(3), 298-316. doi:10.1080/15350770.2010.498760

Siren, A., & Knudsen, S. G. (2017). Older adults and emerging digital service delivery: A mixed methods study on information and communications technology use, skills, and attitudes. Journal of Aging and Social Policy, 29(1), 35-50. doi:10.1080/08959420.2016.1187036

Sourbati, M. (2009). ‘It could be useful, but not for me at the moment’: Older people, internet access and e-public service provision. New Media & Society, 11(7), 1083-1100. doi:10.1177/1461444809340786

Syvertsen, T. (2010). Medieforskerne hater gamle mennesker. Norsk Medietidsskrift, 17(4), 381-391.

Wandke, H., Sengpiel, M., & Sönksen, M. (2012). Myths about older people’s use of information and communication technology. Gerontology, 58(6), 564-570. doi:10.1159/000339104




How to Cite

Iversen, S. M., Blaakilde, A. L., Wilińska, M., & Sandvik, K. (2017). Growing old with and via media. MedieKultur: Journal of Media and Communication Research, 33(63), 8 p.