What are we talking about?: Constructions of loneliness among older people in the Swedish news-press
2017 (English)In: Journal of Aging Studies, ISSN 0890-4065, E-ISSN 1879-193X, Vol. 41, 18-27 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Epub ahead of print
Loneliness among older people is an issue that engages the general public and various professions and organizations in contemporary Swedish society. One public arena where this engagement is particularly evident is within the Swedish news-press, where articles on loneliness among older people are frequently published. Loneliness is commonly perceived as significantly related to ageing and older people. In addition, the mass media is considered to have a crucial influence in shaping general perceptions of older people. The aim of this study is to examine how loneliness among older people is constructed in the Swedish news-press and whether there is a prevailing “loneliness discourse” within this context. The empirical material consists of 94 articles from the Swedish news-press from the years 2013–2014. Two dominating discourses was found. Loneliness — within the discourse of eldercare, politics and the welfare society, is primarily written about in news articles and debate articles by a variety of authors, such as politicians and representatives from organizations. Within this discourse, loneliness is utilized as a concept to motivate the need for political change and the allocations of resources and to amplify deficiencies within eldercare, politics and the welfare society. The second discourse, Loneliness — within the discourse of volunteer work, is addressed in reportage articles written by journalists. In this discourse focus was on depicting volunteers and enhancing the importance of volunteer work. Here, loneliness serves as a motive for performing volunteer work. In addition, the discourse of Research reports on older people's health was found, although less significant compared to the two major discourses. Within this discourse ageing is presented as a risk, where loneliness is one of these risk factors. Despite some minor differences, loneliness, within all three discourses, is given the meaning of being a problem that needs to be solved. A central finding in this study is that focus in the articles, from Swedish news-press, is not mainly on loneliness but rather on eldercare, politics and the welfare state, volunteer work and health among older people. Loneliness is, consequently, used as a concept to motivate the need for political change and the allocation of resources for older people, to enhance the values of volunteer work and to emphasize the risks associated with ageing.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Elsevier, 2017. Vol. 41, 18-27 p.
Loneliness, Older people, Mass media, Discourse theory
Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-136131DOI: 10.1016/j.jaging.2017.03.002OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-136131DiVA: diva2:1085288