Fall 2024

Acceptable Prejudice: Age, Aging, Ageism

Listed in: Political Science, as POSC-239


Ruxandra Paul (Section 01)


The course investigates the connections between the politics of aging and political discourses surrounding seniors from an intersectional and interdisciplinary perspective. The premise of the course highlights the fact that prejudice, stereotyping, and othering based on age (both towards the young, but primarily against the old) are "the last acceptable prejudice" in democratic societies. While there are many international conventions about the rights of children or women, there is little in international law that seeks to protect seniors. Some express frustration at what they perceive as unfairness created through seniority principles, and the disproportionate attention the elderly receive as voters (due to their high levels of participation). Others deplore the invisibility and exclusion seniors face in the labor market and society. The class reflects on the ways in which these dynamics overlap and interact with race and racism, gender discrimination, and exclusion of the poor. It considers the sources of empowerment and disempowerment of senior citizens of different racial backgrounds in the US and around the world, in contemporary politics and in historical perspective. It reflects on how age and aging are perceived in different cultures and in connection with different racial and ethnic identities. One of the case studies examines COVID-19 and the condition/agency of seniors during the pandemic around the world. A central question is: what can and should be done to create cross-generational solidarity in democratic societies that are so divided along age lines?

Limited to 15 students. Priority given to Sophomores. Fall semester. Assistant Professor Paul.

How to handle overenrollment: Priority given to sophomores

Students who enroll in this course will likely encounter and be expected to engage in the following intellectual skills, modes of learning, and assessment: Emphasis on written work, readings, independent research, oral presentations, and collaboration.


Other years: Offered in Fall 2022, Fall 2023, Fall 2024