Additional Participants

Graduate Student

Michael Costello

Research Experience for Undergraduates

Mahala Stewart

Organizational Partners

National Able Network, Maine Division

Project Period

September 2009-August 2010

Level of Access

Open-Access Report

Grant Number


Submission Date



Drawing from theories and empirical work on gender in the workplace, aging, and sociolegal studies, this study of workplace harassment will assess how the power that older workers hold across a variety of domains including work, family, and community life shapes their harassment experiences and responses to those experiences. The study involves collecting and analyzing survey data on the workplace harassment experiences of 800 Maine workers aged 62 and above. These results will then be used to create a generalized theoretical model which outlines how age and other dimensions of power operate together to shape victimization and mobilization experiences. Four fundamental questions frame the proposed study: 1) What is the content of older workers? harassment experiences?; 2) Within the current social context, which older workers are most likely to become targets of workplace harassment?; 3) How do older workers come to label their experiences with potentially harassing behaviors as harassment and how do they go on to respond?; and 4) What general model of age, power, victimization, and mobilization can be drawn from this study? In addition to bringing together several areas of sociological inquiry to present a unified model of age, power, victimization, and mobilization, this study will provide new information relevant to public policies on harassment and discrimination in the workplace. Given evidence of an aging workforce now is an especially important time to become familiar with the workplace experiences of older adults.

Broader Impacts. Study results will be used to develop a larger-scale comparative investigation of workplace harassment over the life cycle. The research will also promote teaching, training, and learning by involving research assistants at both the undergraduate and graduate level, offering them experience with data collection, analysis, writing, and collaboration with local agencies.

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