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Recontextualising ageing as a choice: A critical approach to representations of successful ageing
Örebro University, School of Humanities, Education and Social Sciences.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-4876-3352
2022 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This thesis examines the intersection between representations of ageing femininities, empowerment, and oppression in marketing and advertising practices, within the context of successful ageing. In the current era of population ageing, debates on gender and ageing are becoming more pronounced. Due to population ageing, there is a visible increase in representations of (successful) ageing in the media. As a result, we are experiencing an expansion in the “grey market” of anti-ageing products and services, e.g., cosmetics, mainly aimed at wealthy older women who constitute an important market segment for such. Given that the media helps form people’s ideas about ageing, there is a need to critically examine this growing market and how older women are represented and/or addressed in it. Such representations are crucial for understanding contemporary feminist discussions on the contestation between women’s empowerment and oppression. To provide a deeper understanding of this phenomenon, I use an intersectional feminist perspective combined with the methodology of Multimodal Critical Discourse Analysis (MCDA). This perspective highlights and deconstructs the complex ways in which power and ideology work to maintain and reinforce existing intersectional structural inequalities based on age, gender, class, and race that marginalise women. This thesis consists of three empirical studies. The findings suggest a shift from the postfeminist gaze towards a neoliberal self-objectifying gaze that closely operates alongside discourses of successful ageing. This self-objectifying gaze encourages women to actively work on and transform the ageing self through intensifying self-surveillance, self-scrutiny, and self-improvement practices. These self-transformation practices are presented as the free choices of empowered, entrepreneurial, and responsibilised subjects. Nonetheless, such choices confine women to never-ending forms of self-governance that promote the internalisation of patriarchal and capitalist ideal standards of beauty, thus reinscribing privilege and oppression.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Örebro: Örebro University , 2022. , p. 116
Series
Örebro Studies in Media and Communication, ISSN 1651-4785 ; 28
Keywords [en]
Cosmetic advertising, grey market, intersectionality, Multimodal Critical Discourse Analysis, neoliberalism, older women, postfeminism, successful ageing
National Category
Media Studies
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-97950ISBN: 9789175294360 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:oru-97950DiVA, id: diva2:1643664
Public defence
2022-05-06, Örebro universitet, Forumhuset, Hörsal F, Fakultetsgatan 1, Örebro, 13:15 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2022-03-10 Created: 2022-03-10 Last updated: 2022-05-04Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Visual ageism and the subtle sexualisation of older celebrities in L'Oreal's advert campaigns: a Multimodal Critical Discourse Analysis
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Visual ageism and the subtle sexualisation of older celebrities in L'Oreal's advert campaigns: a Multimodal Critical Discourse Analysis
2022 (English)In: Ageing & Society, ISSN 0144-686X, E-ISSN 1469-1779, Vol. 42, no 9, p. 2122-2139Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This study focuses on the recent increase in the use of older celebrities in cosmetics advertising. It asks what kinds of ideas and values these images may attribute to discourses of ageing. Drawing on a Multimodal Critical Discourse Analysis (MCDA) perspective, this study focuses on L'Oreal UK and Ireland Web advertisements, examining how these advertisements use older celebrities to redefine/reposition ageing and exploring how they relate to the notion of 'successful ageing'. In these advertisements, using cosmetics is presented as a positive, empowering choice. The advertisements simultaneously promote new discourses about ageing in which older women's sexuality is presented as a form of power. However, the analysis shows that the underlying discourse pathologises ageing and presents ageing as something which can be evaded through the consumption of cosmetics. It thus turns ageing into a choice, but one where the 'right choice' aligns with neo-liberal ideas about ageing well. For women, decision-making about ageing seems to be a never-ending process that requires constant construction, promoted through the older celebrity's sexualisation. Women are expected to always look good and present the best versions of themselves, even at the latest stages of life, which reproduces and legitimises sexist and ageist expectations about women's appearances, including the expectations that for older women to remain visible and attractive, they must hide outward signs of ageing.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Cambridge University Press, 2022
Keywords
older celebrity, cosmetics advertising, successful ageing, Multimodal Critical Discourse Analysis, L'Oreal
National Category
Media and Communications
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-96612 (URN)10.1017/S0144686X20002019 (DOI)000742522200001 ()2-s2.0-85101272126 (Scopus ID)
Available from: 2022-01-21 Created: 2022-01-21 Last updated: 2022-09-09Bibliographically approved
2. “It takes a long time to become young”: A critical feminist intersectional study of Vogue’s Non-Issue
Open this publication in new window or tab >>“It takes a long time to become young”: A critical feminist intersectional study of Vogue’s Non-Issue
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
National Category
Media Studies
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-98534 (URN)
Available from: 2022-04-11 Created: 2022-04-11 Last updated: 2022-04-11Bibliographically approved
3. The scientifization of “green” anti-ageing cosmetics in online marketing: a multimodal critical discourse analysis
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The scientifization of “green” anti-ageing cosmetics in online marketing: a multimodal critical discourse analysis
2023 (English)In: Social Semiotics, ISSN 1035-0330, E-ISSN 1470-1219, Vol. 33, no 5, p. 1026-1045Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This paper examines the marketing of trending green cosmetic products containing natural ingredients and coming with claims to keep skin health-enhancing and age-defying benefits. This is fostered by the growing importance of successful ageing and the neoliberal self-care agenda. Adopting the notion of "integrated design" from Multimodal Critical Discourse Analysis (MCDA), this paper looks at the communicative affordances of the web and how marketers of "green" cosmetics connect these to science. The analysis shows that the integrated design of the webpages allows cosmetic companies to connote science while glossing over significant details, leaving causalities, classifications, and processes unspecified. This marketing frames fighting the "look" of ageing as a moral and ethical consumption choice. Such choices relate to self-care regimes of a "successful" neoliberal citizenship.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Routledge, 2023
Keywords
Commodity feminism, green cosmetics, integrated design, multimodal critical discourse analysis, science communication, successful ageing
National Category
Media and Communications
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-94857 (URN)10.1080/10350330.2021.1981128 (DOI)000702703400001 ()2-s2.0-85116350568 (Scopus ID)
Available from: 2021-10-08 Created: 2021-10-08 Last updated: 2023-12-08Bibliographically approved

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Kenalemang-Palm, Lame Maatla

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