'Older people' talking as if they are not older people: Positioning theory as an explanation

Jones, Rebecca L. (2006). 'Older people' talking as if they are not older people: Positioning theory as an explanation. Journal of Aging Studies, 20(1) pp. 79–91.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jaging.2004.12.003

Abstract

This paper addresses the question of how we account for 'older people' talking as if they are not older people. Membership of an age category is usually conceptualised as having a pre-discursive reality, as is inherent in the concept of 'denial of ageing'. This paper theorises membership of an age category as a discursive resource and uses positioning theory to examine what is said. Working within the framework of discursive psychology, it demonstrates both the complexity and the fruitfulness of identifying older-age related positions in talk. Data is presented where speakers position themselves as not-older-people or modify positionings of themselves as older. The data comes from interviews about a topic where age status is often treated as pertinent: sexual activity in later life. The analysis demonstrates that how speakers position themselves in relation to older age depends on, and has important consequences for the particular local business of the interaction.

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