2020 Special Focus - New Ageism in Times of Pandemic: Tensions between Active Aging and Risk-Group Definitions

The COVID-19 pandemic sets the stage for a gigantic epidemiological, economic, social, and cultural global experiment under which we face a rise of ageism around the world. With mortality risks by COVID-19 being unequally distributed by chronological age, public policies to control the spread of the virus and its consequences for individuals and societies are often focusing on this and apply ageist language and practice, e.g., when defining risk groups or allocating resources. The pandemic and related policies pave the way for an exacerbation of negative stereotypes, prejudice, and discrimination towards people because of their age, or at least their social relevance, and have the potential to outlast the health crisis. At the same time, active aging goals, norms, and expectations prevail and create tensions of various kinds, e.g., in late work or elder care with effects for participation/autonomy, well-being, exclusion, and (in)equality. The Aging and Social Change: Tenth Interdisciplinary Conference invites discussion on ageism in times of pandemic from the overall perspective of aging and social change.

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