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Communication Across the Life Span


Edited By Jon F. Nussbaum

As we grow up and grow old, embrace new experiences, try new roles, and adopt new technologies, our senses of time, space, connection, and identity are fundamentally explored through communication. Why, how, with whom, and to what end humans communicate reflect and shape our ever-changing life span position. And while the «life span» can be conceived as a continuum, it is also one hinged by critical junctures and bound by cultural differences that can be better understood through communication.
The chapters in this collection, chosen from among the invited plenary speakers, top research papers, and ideas discussed in San Juan, explore the multiple ways communication affects, reflects, and directs our life transition. Capturing the richness and diversity of scholarship presented at the conference, chapters explore communication technologies that define a generation; communication and successful aging; stereotyping and family communication; sexual communication and physiological measurement; life span communication and the digital divide; and home-based care contexts across the world, among others.
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Chapter Five: Stereotyping and Family Communication


← 50 | 51 →CHAPTER FIVE

Stereotyping and Family Communication


Nearly a decade ago I wrote an article for the Journal of Family Communication entitled “As family members age: A research agenda for family communication” (Hummert, 2007). That article examined theories about age stereotypes and communication, including the Communication Predicament of Aging model (Ryan, Giles, Bartolucci, & Henwood, 1986) and the Age Stereotypes in Interaction model (Hummert, 1994, 1999). Although much of the research in this area has been on interactions between strangers, the article focused on the ways that cultural age stereotypes (both positive and negative) not only emerge in family interactions, but can also be reinforced and strengthened through those interactions. Consistent with its title, the article concluded with a call for extending research on family communication to include a greater emphasis on communication with the oldest family members, noting that the majority of family communication research up to that point had centered on communication between children (from infants to adolescents) and parents or between spouses.

This chapter provides an opportunity to see how this research has advanced in the last nine years and what research opportunities lie ahead for those of us interested in the relationship between age stereotypes and family communication. The chapter will begin with a brief overview of the state of the research in 2007 as discussed in the Journal of Family Communication article. It will then highlight developments in age stereotype research...

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