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Ageing and chronic illness in language and sexuality

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posted on 16.11.2017, 11:17 by Elizabeth Peel, Sonja J. Ellis
An ageing demographic in Western societies as well as globally has made public health issues, such as dementias, subject to hyperbolic metaphor such as “tsunami” and “time bomb.” This chapter reviews the state of knowledge regarding language, sexualities, ageing, and chronic illness. In particular, we focus on discursive research from across the social sciences that furthers understandings of older people’s lives and experiences. We highlight research that has focused on ageism and chronic conditions impacting older people (specifically, dementia and type 2 diabetes), including empirical research on these conditions, and on manifestations of heterosexism and heteronormativity in these contexts. Using illustrative examples that emphasize the intersection of discourse and issues that relate to ageing, we foreground this area as an important element of language and sexuality scholarship. Last, we indicate future directions for the development of research focusing on these topics.


With grateful thanks to the British Academy for funding some of this research (Grants SG1000017 and MC110142).



  • Social Sciences


  • Communication, Media, Social and Policy Studies

Published in

The Oxford Handbook of Language and Sexuality


1 - 28


PEEL, E. and ELLIS, S.J., 2018. Ageing and chronic illness in language and sexuality. IN: K. Hall and R. Barrett (eds). The Oxford Handbook of Language and Sexuality. Oxford: Oxford University Press, Doi: 10.1093/oxfordhb/9780190212926.013.35


© Oxford University Press (OUP)


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This is a draft of a chapter that has been accepted for publication by Oxford University Press in the book The Oxford Handbook of Language and Sexuality edited by K. Hall and R. Barrett . Reproduced by permission of Oxford University Press and available at