Ageism Challenged Through EthnoDrama

Public discussion on ageing pays a great deal of attention to frailty, dependency, healthcare and pension challenges. Too often, discussion is shaped by negative beliefs about growing old. A policy focus on the economic cost of ageing societies creates further grounds for ageism – a social construct that depicts older adults negatively and produces stereotypes that ignore diversity. To date, very little research has been carried out with older adults in Ireland on their experiences of ageism. Working together with Cork Cultural Companions (Muintir na Tíre), AgeACTED addresses this gap in the research.

Aims and objectives

The primary aim of this project is to challenge ageism in Irish society.  This will be achieved by partnering with older adults to identify how they negotiate day-to-day experiences of ageism and, through ethnodrama, co-create a resource for creative engagement and dissemination.  

The project objectives are to:

  • raise awareness of ageism in post-pandemic Ireland among the public, community stakeholders and policy-makers;
  • develop a methodological roadmap for arts-based participatory research with older adults;
  • generate new insights into how older adults negotiate and respond to ageism;
  • develop creative methods of communicating research to diverse audiences through a stage-play and resource pack;
  • build a collaborative interdisciplinary, intersectoral network as a foundation for future research on creative participatory approaches to challenging ageism.

Using a participatory methodology, the research will be planned and carried out with a group of older adults from Cultural Companions’ community networks, ensuring gender and minority status representation. The project will employ ethnodrama: older adults will use their everyday stories of ageism to write a stage-play script. In addition to the script there will be a resource pack with materials that allow future participants and/or audiences to engage with the content in creative non-formal ways that deepen understanding of ageism. By documenting our research process, we will produce a roadmap for other creative projects in the future. Together, the script and roadmap will facilitate emotionally-engaged understandings of ageism to inform debate and policy.  

Funder & Dates

 This project is funded under the New Foundations 2021 Programme from December 2021 - December 2022.

Project Team

Dr Eleanor Bantry White (PI), Dr Elaine Desmond, Dr Siobhán O’Sullivan, Dr Fiachra O’Súilleabháin (School of Applied Social Studies) and Fionn Woodhouse (Theatre), in partnership with Muintir na Tíre Cork.

For further details contact:


Institute for Social Science in the 21st Century (ISS21)

Top Floor, Carrigbawn/Safari Building, Donovan Road, Cork, T12 YE30