Exercising Citizenship in an Ageist Society

Investigators: Barry Trentham (Principal Investigator), Sheila Neysmith (Co-Investigator)

Year of study: 2014/15


The objective of this study was to explore the forms that social exclusion take in an ageist society by understanding how a group of senior citizen advocates resist ageism and exercise their citizenship right to actively participate in policy change processes. In collaboration with the members of Care Watch, a senior citizen-led group that primarily advocates for supportive home care, we examined how ageism shapes the strategies available to older persons engaged in social action and how policy forums foster social dependency through their portrayal of older persons.

Using a participatory action research (PAR) framework, and informed by a critical theoretical perspective, we documented the barriers to and facilitators of social action. Documentation of processes, outcomes (e.g., proposals, partnerships, media attention) and reflections of activities were analyzed collectively. Themes were interrogated with respect to the social policy discourses on aging, citizenship, exclusion and resistance to that exclusion.

Four questions guided the data collection:

  1. What venues and tools are available to influence the policy making process?
  2. Given available venues and tools, how does an organization focused on community-based service policy and led by a diverse group of older adults engage in the policy change process?
  3. What structural barriers are experienced in the policy change effort?
  4. What new venues and tools can be developed to support seniors in their efforts to influence the policy making process?


* Click to review the publications resulting from this study:

Trentham, Sokoloff, Tsang & Neysmith, 2015 and Trentham & Neysmith, 2017

* Click to review a series of videos produced from this study:

*Click to review the knowledge translation backgrounders created from this study:

Other links: carewatchontario.comFacebookTwitterTumblr 

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