Diverging Strands? Multiple Approaches to Studying Older People's Technology Use

Monday, 11 July 2016
Location: Hörsaal 42 (Main Building)
Distributed Paper
Selma KADI, Eberhard Karls Universitat Tubingen, Germany
Older people use new technologies less than younger people. Due to multiple reasons, they are more often excluded from use. Simultaneously, they include negative stereotypes ( e.g. later life and new technologies are incompatible, older people are not able to use new technologies as good as younger people) into their own learning experiences. Using the example of internet use in later life, I will compare different approaches from the social sciences for analysing older people’s technology use (e.g. domestication theory, human factors, technology generations, feminist technology studies). Ageing is conceptualized in various ways in these approaches – some emphasise physical ageing processes or the social construction of ageing, some treat ageing as an individual’s attribute, others highlight age relations. Technology is likewise defined differently – e.g. as means to cope with disabilities related to physical ageing processes or as social process. I will discuss opportunities for an analysis of technology use which can integrate some of these concepts and take the diversity of older people’s experiences into account. This is all the more important since high hopes are put on the improvement of older people’s quality of life through the development of new technology.