Ageism particular version of social reality which objectifies

Ageism refers to both prejudice and discrimination, prejudice being an attitude and discrimination as behaviour. Butler (1975) defined ageism as the “systematic stereotyping or discrimination against people because they are old, just as racism and sexism accomplish with skin colour and gender. Ageism allows the younger generations to see older people as different than themselves; thus they subtly cease to identify with their elders as human beings.”Ageism can function as stereotypes. The strongest stereotypes around ageing are those which equate ageing with the “3 Ds”- disease, disability and death. Phelan (2008) notes that  “ageist assumptions become so integrated into common discourse in diverse social contexts that they become tacitly acceptable and legitimize a particular version of social reality which objectifies older people as a homogenous group in subject positions which emphasize these stereotypical negative attributes.” Ageist attitudes are activated automatically in social perception, much like any other stereotype about stigmatised groups. For example, Perdue and Gurtman (1990) found that when young people are presented with the word “old” they are faster to subsequently recognise negative trait words, and slower to recognise positive trait words. Beliefs about the elderly as unable to contribute to society, and hence as dispensable members of a community, and attitudes towards them of dislike and distancing are prevalent. (Kite and Johnson 1988). In a survey of more than 2,000 people aged 65-93, 48% said they thought their generation was ‘ignored.’ 37% felt they were treated disrespectfully because of their age. (YouGov, 2013)Research by Age UK (2005) found that 29% of respondents reported suffering from age discrimination more than any other form of discrimination. Furthermore, data from the English Longitudinal study of ageing (ELSA) found that one-third of those aged fifty-two and over in England reported perceptions of age discrimination. A later study using the ELSA and the Health and Retirement Study (HRS) found that England had a higher rate of self-perceived age discrimination (34.8%) compared to the United States, with 29.1% reporting perceived age discrimination (Rippon, Zaninotto & Steptoe, 2015). Ageism seems to be more common in the workplace than racism or sexism. About 20% of all complaints filed with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) are for age discrimination, settlements and jury awards are substantially higher in such cases than in those for race, sex or disability discrimination (Age Discrimination, 1999).One explanation of ageism is called disengagement theory (Cumming & Henry, 1961). This approach assumes that all societies must find ways to encourage its elderly to disengage from their previous roles and to take on roles more appropriate to their physical and mental decline. These previous roles will be undertaken by a younger generation that is presumably more able to carry out the roles. A critical problem with this theory is that it assumes that older people are no longer capable of adequately performing their previous roles (Hochschild, 1975). However, research has shown that there are no performance differences between older and younger employees (Billet 2011, p.1249). Many elders cannot afford to disengage from their previous roles because work has become an increasingly important aspect in old age due to financial necessities or a desire to continue active engagement, or both (Chou, 2012) Also, disengaging from previous roles would reduce their social interaction and the benefits it brings (Hochschild, 1975). Furthermore, organisations and businesses could suffer if the elderly disengage from their previous roles.  Due to the ever-changing business environment, organisations need to differentiate themselves to gain competitive advantage. One of the most important advantages is workforce diversity (Holtzman, p.75) According to a Marxist perspective, only the bourgeoisie share the benefits of capitalism, by having the resources to control production, they are in a position to earn their living from the profit derived from investment.  In order to extract the maximum amount of profit, those in power seek to streamline the workforce by choosing those workers who provide the best ‘value for money’, in that they are healthy and strong – ideally young and male. The Health Survey of England (2005), found a clear relationship between age and increasing prevalence of disability. A telephone survey of British employers commissioned by the Government Equalities Office (GEO) found that businesses perceived old age to be an economic cost for the company. One of the verbatim responses quoted “there are certain jobs that are heavy manual labour. I wouldn’t want to employ an ‘older’ person for that job because they’d end up taking sick leave.” There is a tendency in the society of perceiving old age as something that is a “kind of inevitable tragedy” (Payne, 2006: 211). The survey by Age UK 2005 highlighted that one in three respondents say the over 70s are viewed as incompetent and incapable (Age UK, 2005). The fact that older people (as a ‘spent’ workforce) may have been prime workers in the past, and their experience could still be of use in such fields as training, appears to be of little value.  The demographic framework in the United Kingdom has shown noteworthy changes in the last 25 years. Using statistics from 2002 to 2008, the working population aged 16-59 for women and 16-64 for men was just over 38.1 million and is expected to increase from 38.1 million to 43.3 million. (Source: Statistics UK, n.d.) In order to safeguard and protect the employees from being discriminated at work the UK government has taken protective measures and is ensuring equality in the workplace. The Equality Act 2010 is the new law providing protection against age discrimination in training, adult education and employment for people of all ages. It has replaced the Employment Equality (Age) regulations 2006 by absorbing most of its position. The Equality Act came into force on 4th October 2010. ‘The Act forms part of the law of England and Wales. It also, with the exception of section 190 and Part 15, forms part of the law of Scotland’ The Act has two main purposes – to harmonise discrimination law and to strengthen the law to support progress on equality. The Act sought to codify the many pieces of primary and secondary legislation relating to discrimination to give a single approach. The Act also introduced some further protection against discrimination. The Equality Act 2010 provides protection against discrimination which relates to certain listed characteristics which people may possess. These are known as “protected characteristics”. The Act identifies nine protected characteristics: age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation. The definition of ‘discrimination’ differs from statute to statute and it generally consists in treating one person less favourably than another. In this way, the Equality Act provides guidance which aims to give a general framework of the different discriminatory situations. The Equality Act is more comprehensive as it adopts a unitary perspective of equality. The Act extends the concept of discrimination across the nine protected characteristics, making the law more consistent and fair. Section 5 of the Equality Act 2010 ‘establishes that where the Act refers to the protected characteristic of age, it means a person belonging to a particular age group. An age group includes people of the same age and people of a particular range of ages.’ Section 5 of the Act replaces a provision in the Employment Equality (Age) Regulations 2006. The Equality and Human Rights Commision (EHRC) defines age discrimination as unfair treatment towards an individual because of their age. It can also include the way older people are portrayed in the media, which can have a large influence on the public’s attitudes.