The main goal of this article is to call attention to ageism and age as a part of the Brazilian system of prejudice and discrimination. Although ageism and age discrimination are often used interchangeably, ageism refers essentially to the system of attitudes so often attributed by individuals and society to others by age, while age discrimination describes a situation in which age is the deciding factor. An example of age discrimination is when an employer decides to recruit, to promote, to retrain or to retire/dismiss an employee based only upon age. While noticing someone's age is not inherently offensive, acting on age-based stereotypes clearly is a prejudice against the individual that often goes unchallenged by mainstream society. This article relies on empirical findings and the cumulative knowledge on discrimination of the elderly, and discusses theoretical positions that link age discrimination with ageism. We argue that ageism and the practice of age discrimination in Brazil should be viewed as part of the multiple forms of discrimination experienced by individuals. A central assumption guiding this paper is that the way we frame ageism and intergenerational relations has a significant effect on both perceived age discrimination and support for age-based social programs and it will be illustrated for the Brazilian case.
Ageism; Policy; Inequality; Demographic changes