As the prevalence of dementia continues to rise, improving public awareness of this disease is of growing importance. Newspapers are among the most influential sources of information on dementia, with considerable power to reinforce negative stereotypes about it. Prompted by the scarcity of scholarly literature on portrayals of dementia patients in Asian contexts, the present study examined the relevant news coverage in one Taiwanese newspaper (United Daily News) during two years, 1999 and 2019. Specifically, it explored the linguistic features whereby people with dementia were represented, and the ideological implications of such discourse, in terms of role allocation and referential strategies. Among such implications are apparent increases over the past two decades in the discursive associations between dementia and aging, and between dementia and vulnerability; and this, in turn, seems to have boosted the incidence of ageist and otherwise problematic portrayals of dementia sufferers as a homogeneous social group. Given the study’s findings that the sampled newspaper paints people with dementia in Taiwan in a mostly negative light, it raises concerns about discrimination and stigmatization that could be triggered as consequences of such coverage.
Chin-Hui Chen, National Pingtung University of Science and Technology, Taiwan
Yan-Hua Huang, National Pingtung University of Science and Technology, Taiwan
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