Ageism refers to the act of stereotyping individuals based on their age. This act is common practice among members of the same age group, but it is more prominent among the younger individuals. In his analysis and detailed description of the practice, Butler (2010) was keen to note that ageism could be expressed either casually or systematically. Since the documentation of the practice in 1969 and 1970, there have been numerous cases of ageism that have ultimately led to a creation of laws to mitigate against the effects of the practice. It is, therefore, based on these two aspects that this paper is based on.
Although age discrimination is not limited to the workplace and specifically employment, there is the tendency to emphasize on the setting primarily because it is the avenue through which it is most likely to occur. Laws and legislations enacted with an aim of addressing the challenges and effects of ageism are broad and it is only logical to concentrate on one realm of the concept for ease of comprehension, hence the bias towards age discrimination and labor laws. As far as employment law vis-à-vis age discrimination is concerned, therefore, three key aspects helped shape the current legislations intended to govern Age Discrimination.
Firstly, at the time of enactment and theorizing of ageism by Butler, the then legislation was aimed at shaping, promoting and upholding societal values of mutual respect, age or social status notwithstanding. Secondly, the laws developed as a means of promoting social values by enforcing its newly created provisions. In his article Looking at Age Discrimination, Kapp (2013) is keen to point out that laws, thereby enacted became enforceable in instances that called for justice, and where discrimination was based on age. Kapp (2013) further indicates that, ultimately, and as people became more conversant with new legislations, they embraced the fact that, when necessary, force could be used to compel adherence to the laws. Lastly, the laws were instilled to the public through organized education programs, or force; the latter emanating from persons compelled to behave in a certain way under law penalty.
Ageism affects both men and women in their senior years. As regards the question which gender is more prone to age based discrimination, specific research on this has been scanty. In fact, a majority of recorded researches is more focused on ‘the aged adult’ rather than the ‘the gender of the afflicted old’. Doron (2012) notes that the fact that there has been, arguably, nonexistent examination of the differential effects of age discrimination between men and women means that this question cannot be answered with certainty. The stereotyping that has existed in many a society could have it that women face more discrimination. Conversely, though, the opposite could be true if judgments were made devoid of the stereotyping vice.
In recap, ageism is a vice that an ideal society should be rid of. In an unjust world, however, it is an aspect that will always exist and can only be controlled and managed through legal enactments intended to seek justice and fairground for all, age notwithstanding. Over the years, the society has developed laws, and continues to, depending on the societal needs. Education and justice have, and will concurrently help educate the public the essence of equality despite the age, gender and socioeconomic standing.
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