Ageing and the Matrix of Domination

Gemma Carney*, Paul Nash

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


Researchers of ageing have begun to pay attention to the increasing diversity of our older population, particularly aroundgender, disability, LGBTQ+ ageing and most recently, race and ethnicity (Holman & Walker, 2021). Feminism and genderstudies have led the field in this regard. Awareness of how age and sex discrimination interact in order to oppress olderwomen has developed in significant ways since Sontag’s famous essay on ‘The Double Standard of Ageing’ was first published in 1972. Two related conceptual models - intersectionality and the matrix of domination are a case in point. Patricia Hill-Collins’ (1990) ‘Matrix of Domination’ model of understanding how race and gender discrimination is experienced by Black Women offers a number of points of learning for scholars of ageing who are interested in how inequality, diversity and ageing intersect. The ‘Matrix of Domination’ theory proposes the embodiment of the experience of oppression and the privileging of experiential knowledge. Crenshaw’s (1989) concept of intersectionality is similarly concerned with the intersection of sex and race. Hill-Collins sees intersectionality as part of the ‘Matrix of Domination’ and examines how these social categories interact with societal knowledge and social norms. However, it is also important to acknowledge that most feminist theories, including the ‘Matrix of Domination’ makes barely any reference to age at all. Older Black Women are not a concern of Hill-Collins, at least not overtly. This cuts both ways as, arguably, 'women and minorities' have been an afterthought in ageing research too. The objective of this paper is to make the case for understanding age as a ‘master category’ that always co-exists with gender, race and other bases for discrimination (Pickard, 2016). Through the Matrix of Domination lens, and acknowledging the breadth of feminist scholarship, we lean on the work of feminists (Beauvoir, 1972; Freidan, 1993; Price, 2015; 2021). We conclude with an evaluation of how these cultural and feminist perspectives on ageing have opened our minds to the potential of inter-disciplinarity to uncover how age is ‘one of the key social divisions ordering and ranking individuals within society’ (Twigg, 2013; 25).

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 26 Oct 2022
Event5th National Conference for Gender Studies in Sweden 2022: shaping hopeful futures in times of uncertainty - Karlstad University, Karlstad, Sweden
Duration: 26 Oct 202228 Oct 2022


Conference5th National Conference for Gender Studies in Sweden 2022: shaping hopeful futures in times of uncertainty
Abbreviated titleG22
Internet address


  • ageing
  • gender
  • Matrix of Domination
  • inequality
  • feminism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences


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