Normativity and the Aging Self: “Active Longevity” Media Discourse in Contemporary Russia

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Aliia Nizamova


This article explores the normative understandings of older adults, old age, and aging as they are articulated in the mainstream media’s discourse on “successful aging” and “active longevity” in contemporary Russia. I draw on critical gerontological approach and critical discourse analysis to examine the articles published in 2016–2018 in one of the most popular Russian weekly newspapers, Argumenty i Fakty (Arguments and Facts), which actively engages in discussions of “activity,” “longevity,” and “success” in later life. This article traces the consumerist logic behind the “successful aging” discourse, which takes the notion of “success” as a matter of lifestyle that can be maintained through individual’s voluntary reflexive participation in consumerist practices and, thus, ignores the social-structural factors affecting this process. The aging subject is invited to engage with the “successful aging” ideal and express their “reflexive” self through the practices of “managing” health and longevity, appearance and embodiment, and manifestations of sexuality. However, this “successful” management suggests a correlation with the conventional perceptions of femininity, masculinity, and sexuality, subjectivity buttressed with neoliberal values, and familial life in which the aging subject must remain a resource for younger generations. This analysis indicates that such standards exclude those life trajectories that do not comply with the norms of the discourses on aging in an “active” and “successful” way.

Article in English

DOI: 10.25285/2078-1938-2020-12-2-45-67


Active Longevity, Successful Aging, Lifestyle, Consumerism, Normativity

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