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Ageing and Society ; : 1-22, 2022.
Article in English | Web of Science | ID: covidwho-2016442


Older adults have been statistically proved to be at a higher risk of getting severely infected by the coronavirus COVID-19, evoking sweeping narratives of compassionate ageism surrounding them in different discourses. By analysing the media content, scholars from different areas have alerted us about the amplified ageism aroused by the pandemic crisis. However, we are still short of empirical evidence to learn how ageism is constructed in diverse sociocultural contexts in the wake of this global pandemic crisis. This study provides the case of Hong Kong to reflect on how ageism, as a set of social inequalities, is constructed. By examining 814 articles collected from the three most popular newspapers with different political orientations in Hong Kong, this study uses quantitative and qualitative content analysis to examine how older people have been generally represented. Then it further compares how these representations have been influenced by the media's liberal or conservative preferences. Third, it examines the relationship between the political orientation of newspapers and how different forms of ageism are constructed. The findings indicate that despite the liberal or conservative inclination of the three newspapers, they portray the older population as frail, dependent and deprived not only at the biomedical level but in all aspects of life. This study also reveals that the newspapers with a populist inclination in both camps have shown more hostile attitudes in representing compassionate ageism. In contrast, liberal and conservative-leaning media affirmed the government's dominant role in taking full responsibility for caring for the older population. The findings indicate that the polarised ageism frame cannot fully explain the underpinnings of ageism and implied policy processing in different contexts.