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Title: The 'age' of diversity and equal opportunities in employment : new discrimination against older workers?
Author: McVittie, Christopher D.
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2001
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There exists a considerable body of evidence to suggest that older workers are increasingly being excluded from the workplace in the UK and elsewhere. Commonly, such exclusions are viewed as being due, at least in part, to the use of discriminatory practices by employers towards older workers and jobseekers. Many previous writers have sought to explain age discrimination in employment as the result of the cognitive biases of individual employers (e.g. Warr & Pennington, 1993) or as the outcome of inequitable social structures which favour younger workers over older workers (e.g. Phillipson, 1982). Recent measures promoted by the UK Government to address age discrimination in the workplace (DfEE, 1999) have accordingly rested on the promotion to employers of the principles of diversity and equal opportunities in employment. Drawing on work which has examined the explanatory power of age itself (Bodily, 1991; 1994) and on recent work within discursive psychology, I argue in this Thesis that age diversity and equal opportunities in employment can be usefully understood as discursive resources available to and used by participants within everyday social interaction. Adopting such a perspective allows discrimination against older workers to be viewed as ongoing social practice. Here, I analyse data obtained from written equal opportunities policies of employers, from focus groups and from interviews conducted with employers and older jobseekers. Employers, while making claims which appear to be inclusive of workers in general and older workers in particular, describe their workforce and recruitment practices within reference to the numbers of older workers employed. When challenged, they account for the apparent marginalisation of older workers within their organisations in terms of factors outwith their control and in ways which make such practices less visible and less open to public scrutiny.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available