If one wishes to promote the human rights of older persons, one need ideology.
"Ageivism" refers to an ideology which serves as the basis for calls for social action (echoing similar "isms", e.g. feminism, or socialism) on the protection and promotion of the rights of older persons based on the grounds of political, social and economic principles of identity, dignity and social justice.
Ageivism derives from two well-known bodies of knowledge: one – the politics of identity; the other – the concept of ideology. The politics of identity is not new to the field of social justice and social policy. Women, Afro-American, Persons with disabilities, the LGBTQ community, have all used this kind of discourse to utilize their social struggle for equality, dignity, human rights and social justice.[i] One very clear and forceful example of the importance of the politics of identity can be found in the feminist writings of Prof. Nancy Fraser.[ii] It is beyond the scope of this short article to fully discuss and implement Fraser's argument in the context of older persons as this has been already done.[iii] For the purposes of this article, it would be sufficient to argue that older persons experience both symbolic and cultural injustices, such as being portrayed in the public media as a burden on society or irrelevant and senile.
Along with the politics of identity, the concept of "ideology" is central to the term "ageivism". For the purposed of this article, "ideology" will mean "a system of ideas and ideals" as well as "the set of beliefs characteristic of a social group."[iv] Ageivism therefore is an ideology which encompasses a set of ideas and ideals regarding older persons as a distinct social group. This isthe outcome of viewing old age a social construction rather than compartmentalizing old persons according to chronological age, biology or other categories. Ageivism calls for the liberation of older persons from existing oppression and discrimination which is embedded in ageism. It opposes any attempt to eliminate older persons as a distinct social group, or eradicate old age as a unique human experience. Ageivism, as an ideology, encourages older persons to self-identify as such, and to actively resist the attempts to ignore their unique subjective social experiences of being old in modern and post-modern societies.
Eventually, ageivism as an ideology calls for social change through social activism. Once again, these terms are not only historically and theoretically rich and complex, but entail diverse sociological, psychological and political contexts.