“Is That Me?” Images of Ageing and the Underestimated Role of Active Ageing in Advertising

Thursday, July 17, 2014: 10:45 AM
Room: 417
Oral Presentation
Stefania ANTONIONI , Communication Studies and Humanities, University of Urbino Carlo Bo, Urbino, Italy
Lella MAZZOLI , Communication Studies & Humanities, Università di Urbino Carlo Bo, Urbino, Italy
The concept of complexity is one of the most useful to describe contemporary society, because it implies also the leading role of communication and of its dedicated system, that is to say mass media system (Luhmann). But, or in accordance with this perspective, another helpful description could be the one that defines our society as based on images, referring to the primacy of the visual sphere.

This premise leads us to consider the production of images not only as one of the most important for the reproduction of society, but also as one of the most compelling for individuals and the construction of their composed identities. Following this theoretical background, we have to consider the role of advertising and its peculiarity of constructing an imagery ready to be socially diffused, but also the peculiarity of absorbing – sometimes – the ideas, perspectives and feelings emerging from society or different social groups.

In this sense, it could be of particular interest observing how advertising depicts the reality of ageing, if and in which manner gives back a heterogeneous picture of the different ways of being aged. This kind of research, in fact, tries to clarify which kind of imagery regarding ageing is offered and spread within society in general, but it could also test if the concept of active ageing is practiced in advertising. So in our paper we’ll present the results of a qualitative research on images (one of the main traditional research stream of visual sociology) (Grady), taken from the advertising field. The research results will concern the Italian context, trying to compare it with an international context and producing a specific typology.  Is our aim also to test this typology with a sample of aged interviewees, trying to prove if they recognise themselves in it or not.