How we can ensure that various senior citizens (women and men, living alone or together, full of vitality or fragile, coming from different cultural backgrounds) can identify with images representing themselves so they continue to have access to information sources in our digitizing information society.

A case study conducted by Loos (2013) in the Netherlands collected all images of older people at the websites of the three senior citizens’ organisations in the Netherlands to get insight into the ways these organisations represent their members. The depiction of older people alone and older people together appeared to be a reasonable balanced representation on two websites (respectively 53.7% and 44.3%), while older people alone were a minority (30%) at the third website. The most common category of pictures on that third website was that of ‘older woman and man as a couple’ (25%); while at the other two sites this was ‘man alone’ (28% and 25 % respectively). At all three websites the older people were all unanimously still enjoying the ‘third age’ (e.g., practicing sports or leisurely cycling); the ‘fourth age’ was absent.

While the picture was clear (older people not having a white cultural background are a minority in all three websites) we still do not know yet what the impact of this mis-representation is on senior citizens. For this reason in the project “The impact of pictures representing senior citizens as eternally youthful” about 20 various Dutch senior citizens will be interviewed to ask how they identify with different kind of pictures. This explorative qualitative study will offer us insight into the role of images for the identification processes of a various group of senior citizens and help us to avoid the looming danger of euphoria and stigmatisation by using a mix of images for digital information sources that do justice to the diversity within the older population group by adopting the principle of ‘designing for dynamic diversity’ (Gregor et al., 2002).

Gregor, P., Newell, A. F. and Zajicek, M. (2002). Designing for dynamic diversity – interfaces for older people. In J. A. Jacko (Eds.), ASSETS 2002 The Fifth International ACM Conference on Assistive Technologies (pp. 151-156) Edinburgh, Scotland, 8-10 July.

Loos, E. F. (2013) ‘Designing for dynamic diversity: Representing various senior citizens in digital information sources’ Observatorio (OBS*) Journal, 7 (1), 21-45.

Recent Activity:

November 2015: The Mediatization of the Montreal Canadiens Alumni Engagement. Panel “Digital media reinforcing or challenging sport borders,” North American Sport Sociology Society Conference, Santa Fe, New Mexico.

May 2015: Practicing Conspicuous Philanthropy with the Montreal Canadiens: rethinking social engagement, ageing and celebrity in sport culture. Panel Sport, Politics and Commercialization”, Popular Culture Association of Canada.

Eugène Loos, Utrecht University


Research Area:
Critical Mediations

ACT Partner:
Utrecht University

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