Accepted Paper:

The ageing process and how it is viewed by two groups of elderly and young people: a comparative study exploring perceptions of stereotypes and healthy images of ageing.  


Sara Ronzi (University of Liverpool)
Russell Caplan (London South Bank University)

Paper short abstract:

Comparative perceptions of ageing among young and old people are explored via an innovative method of engagement and dialogue called Photo-Voice that actively challenges the stereotypes surrounding older people and ageing.

Paper long abstract:

The demographics of an ageing population are situated in relation to its social dynamics, that is, social perceptions of ageing and the barriers that constitute stereotypes which impinge on the process of healthy ageing. This dialectic of an ageing population and social perceptions of this phenomenon, expressed in the socio-photographic construct of healthy ageing, is articulated within a Health Promotion narrative that sets the scene for what is essentially a piece of Health Promotion action research.

The use of photography becomes a method of investigation as well as an intervention actively shaping the narratives of ageing among the young and old participants. The research subjects become researchers. Through an innovative process of action research which is both an investigation of young and old people's perceptions of ageing through Photo-voice which is also a parallel process of investigation of the process of ageing by these same research subjects.

The production of images both mediates and generates thinking in interesting and novel ways that has the potential to reach areas of thought that are perhaps not accessible through direct/simple qualitative enquiry like focus groups and/or interviews. Photo-voice's theoretical foundation is grounded in Freire's (1970) critical consciousness raising approach to education. He used drawing to encourage collective discussion about community issues among participants, leading them to take collective action. Similarly, in photo-voice, and specifically in this study, participants' photographs and stories, are employed to raise joint discussion about the ageing process. New vistas are opened up for promoting positive images of ageing.

Panel P28
Photography as a research method