Labeling Theory and Media Stereotypes of the Elderly Essay

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Labeling Theory and Media Stereotypes of the Elderly
Stereotypes have an overwhelming effect especially on the people they are directed towards. Studying stereotypes helps in understanding the factors leading to discrimination of certain people and not others. This is because stereotypes are depictive of opinions that are often passed from one generation to another within a particular culture. Mass media such as television and newspapers form a common source of opinions in the contemporary society (Kotter & Hess, 2012). The media presents messages in steady, repetitive, and compelling manner, making them believable to almost everybody. Stereotyping opinion and depictions from the media can thus have detrimental effects on the …show more content…

Labeling theory is concerned with the effects of labeling on individuals. Symbolic interactionists developed the theory and it focuses on how labels, which are of different forms, affect individual’s self-image as well as the society perceptions about an individual or a group of individuals (Eyetsemitan & Gire, 2003). The labels are often in form of names or reputation and enable the society to create deviants. According to the theory, labeling can alter the behaviors of individuals and make them start behaving according to societal perceptions (Kotter & Hess, 2012). Therefore, the theory focuses on establishing how labels mold the way people perceive themselves. In relation to media stereotyping and the old, stereotypes that perceive old age positively are likely to enhance positive image amongst the old while negative stereotypes may lead to self-denial amongst the old in the society (Eyetsemitan & Gire, 2003)
Various factors determine how we perceive other as well as ourselves. One major factor that shapes our perceptions is the things we are exposed to in our daily lives. Moreover, social distance arising from factors such as age difference may determine how we perceive other. For example, Umphrey & Robinson (2007) argue that that the other-person perception is greatly determined by age.

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