Seeing Timeless Rebels: Challenge people's perspectives of ageing

The rapidly ageing demographic in Western society influences people’s own expectations of later life. Millenniums often think it is very normal to be unhappy and depressed when you are old (Royal Society for Public Health, 2018). This study, which was part of my Master of Research (MRes) at the Innovation School, The Glasgow School of Art set out to reduce the stigma of ageing by challenging people’s perceived perceptions of older people through an intergenerational and participatory process.

The aim of the research was to have a better understanding of people’s lived experiences and perspectives on ageing. The objectives were to generate practical recommendations that can positively support the visual representation of older people in their community. Furthermore, the study identified key insights about using visual engagement tools within a participatory process.

Semi-structured interviews were held with three older adults (age 80+) and two adolescents (age 14) to understand their perceived image of a typical older person in relation to their lived experiences. Two participatory workshops were organised with the same participants to collectively come up with new ideas that challenge the portrayal of older people in everyday visual media. Three sets of data (visual, conversational and observational) were analysed through thematic and content analysis.

The findings are a set of recommendations for organisations who wish to reduce the stigma around growing older and challenge existing ageing stereotypes in their visual strategy. Further research can explore how the recommendations relate to the visual representation of other marginalised groups, for example based on their gender, skin colour or sexual preferences.

To read more about the project please visit:

The full thesis is available on here


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