Ageism the latest prejudice to be studied?

A sociologist at Virginia Tech suggests ageism is now receiving more scholar attention:

Ageism is the latest form of prejudice being studied, although certainly not new in American culture, according to Toni Calasanti, professor of sociology in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences at Virginia Tech. Her research is the lead story in the winter 2011 Virginia Tech Research magazine.

We tend to resist signs of aging and want to keep passing for younger, Calasanti said, since being old affects our social status. She conducts interviews and studies Web pages, past scholarly articles, and other research to look at ageism. While people, including academics, do not want to think of themselves as growing old, “ageism oppresses the people we will become, cuts off our options for collective action now, and arms us for battles we cannot win alone, while leading us to ignore that which binds us,” she said.

With America’s emphasis on youth, I’m sure social scientists could find plenty of examples of this. It seems like there are plenty of anecdotal stories as well from the recent economic downturn with workers getting laid off.

Demographic trends suggest many Western nations will have a large proportion of older residents in the next few decades. If ageism continues, it will be actions made against a growing segment of society.

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