Ageism is the casual or systematic prejudice against people or groups based on their age. Robert Neil Butler first used the phrase in 1971 to refer to bias towards elders based on concepts of sexism and racism. This phrase, which refers to discrimination based on unfavourable perceptions about the old and their capabilities, was coined in response to the success of initiatives to criminalize racism and sexism.
Ageism is any practice or way of thinking in which older people are stereotyped and subjected to prejudice. Ageism refers to activities specifically targeted at older people, but it is also used to describe unjustified stereotypes or prejudice against anybody when it happens solely because of their age.
The phrase is typically used to describe such sentiments or actions against senior citizens. Even those in their forties may find it challenging to get a job in many industrialized nations, and older age groups are increasingly stigmatized as having physical and mental impairments despite the reality that many are healthy and enjoy busy, content lives.
Some civilizations, like ancient China, have cherished and respected the old as a group whose knowledge might be used for the community’s good. It is noteworthy that certain groups of individuals, such as politicians and judges, continue to hold positions of authority and demand respect despite ageism at ages far higher than most citizens.
Ageism is the treatment of persons or groups differently depending on their age or harboring unreasonable and biased opinions about them. It entails generalizing about someone’s or a group’s physical or mental prowess and is sometimes accompanied by disparaging words.
Ageism, according to Butler, is the confluence of three interrelated factors.
1. Prejudices against the elderly, the aging process, and older persons
2. Discrimination against the elderly
3. Institutional practices and policies that reinforce negative preconceptions of the elderly.
By establishing groups like the Grey Panthers, which are dedicated to defending the civil rights of senior citizens and against the derogatory stereotypes of aging that are supported by the commercialization of youth, ageism has become a humanitarian issue in the US.
Sociological studies on ageism have helped reduce discrimination faced by society’s aged strata.