Representation of age identities in on-line discourse

Mei Chen Lin, Mary Lee Hummert, Jake Harwood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


This study examines how age identities are presented in an on-line discussion forum for older adults. On-line messages (N = 550) were examined using discourse and content analyses. Evidence of a tension between positive and negative age identities emerged in the analysis. Positive themes included a mind-over-body attitude, active engagement, wisdom and maturity, and the freedom of age. Negative themes involved physical decline, a sense of loss, and resistance to aging. Positive age identity themes were more frequently presented in these on-line messages than negative themes, and health-related messages were the most common. The central communication features and framing tactics of each age identity theme are discussed. Implications for theoretical perspectives on discourse and social identity, the limitations of this study, and directions for future research are addressed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)261-274
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Aging Studies
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 2004


  • Age identity
  • Discourse analysis
  • Old people
  • On-line discussion forum
  • Social identity theory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • General Arts and Humanities
  • General Social Sciences
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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