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Identities across Media and Modes: Discursive Perspectives

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Giuliana Elena Garzone and Paola Catenaccio

The recognition that identity is mutable, multi-layered and subject to multiple modes of construction and de-construction has contributed to problematizing the issues associated with its representation in discourse, which has recently been attracting increasing attention in different disciplinary areas. Identity representation is the main focus of this volume, which analyses instances of multimedia and multimodal communication to the public at large for commercial, informative, political or cultural purposes. In particular, it examines the impact of the increasingly sophisticated forms of expression made available by the evolution of communication technologies, especially in computer-mediated or web-based settings, but also in more traditional media (press, cinema, TV). The basic assumption shared by all contributors is that communication is the locus where identities, either collective, social or individual, are deliberately constructed and negotiated.
In their variety of topics and approaches, the studies collected in this volume testify to the criticality of representing personal, professional and organizational identities through the new media, as their ability to reach a virtually unlimited audience amplifies the potential political, cultural and economic impact of discursive identity constructions. They also confirm that new highly sophisticated media can forge identities well beyond the simply iconic or textual representation, generating deeply interconnected webs of meaning capable of occupying an expanding – and adaptable – discursive space.

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MIRIAM BAIT Discursive Representations of Old Age in Geriatric Medical Editorials 289

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MIRIAM BAIT Discursive Representations of Old Age in Geriatric Medical Editorials 1. Introduction In recent years, the ageing of the population in industrialized countries has emerged as a prominent issue in international forums and has become one of the most remarkable traits of the late 20th and early 21st century. Thanks to advances in medical and social care, life has lengthened and the health of persons in their 60s, 70s, and even 80s has also improved considerably. This current – and future – demo- graphic trend has not only attracted increasing attention among scholars from various fields, but has also induced modern medicine to focus on the meaning of old age. The growth of interest in ageing, old age and the aged has created the condition for gerontology to emerge and for geriatrics to be regenerated after having received relative little attention in the past (Anderson 1991). Gerontology concentrates on the ageing process and is, in fact, a junior science as it dates back to the 1940s (Borgatta/McClusky 1980). On the other hand, geriatrics, being the study of diseases that affect older people, has always tended to consider ageing as a progressive disease causing physiological and anatomic changes. But the concept of age is more complex than a simple biological category, being an important social group marker which is not objective, but varies across cultures. Every society has its own chronological criteria determining when old age is thought to begin, on the basis of a set of cultural, physiological, or generational parameters....

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