Last May 28-31 saw the celebration of the conference Take Back Aging: Power, Critique, Imagination (#TrentAging2019), hosted by the Trent Centre for Aging & Society (TCAS) in the city of Peterborough, Canada. This event was the second joint conference of the North American and the European Network of Aging Studies (NANAS and ENAS respectively). CNSC had three members co-authoring and presenting several papers at this four-day-long event. Below you will find the list of titles and abstracts of the papers our group members presented.
- Online surveys targeting older people: Some methodological reflections (Mireia Fernández-Ardèvol & Andrea Rosales). The concluding paper relies on the unique sample design of the first wave cross-national longitudinal study —aimed at representative data of online populations aged 60 years old and over with no upper threshold—to conduct a critical assessment of online surveys that reflects on (future) potentialities of this methodology. As Eurostat data grant full comparability of secondary data, the paper focuses on the five EU countries to understand the strengths and limitations of online surveys, particularly regarding older people.
- Strategies of grandmothers in learning to use digital technologies (Andrea Rosales & Daniel Blanche). While the digital divide persists, older people (55-74 years old) are the age group where the Internet is growing the fastest in the European Union (Eurostat, 2018). We examine the learning strategies used by older grandmothers to learn to use digital technologies. We conducted focus groups in four countries – Colombia, Peru, Romania, and Spain – ranging ages between 65 and 88 (N=102). Our preliminary results show that older grandmothers resort to self-teaching, formal courses, or support from family members, friends or acquaintances. Grandmothers learn to use digital technologies by themselves when there is a rich digital trajectory supporting new technological challenges. However, social support is the most common and preferred way to learn. Social support fits well when requirements arise on demand, which is common when dealing with multi-purpose devices. Although grandmothers face difficulties when resorting to social support (lack of patience, time, or interest from the provider), conspicuous learning and social pressure compensate. With children, dynamics move between conspicuous learning, social pressure, short training, and questions on demand. Grandchildren and time spent together are key in this process. There is often a social exchange in this learning: grandmothers learn by being exposed to their grandchildren’s technological interests, and skills and grandchildren learn values related to the use of digital technologies. Thus, the role of social support is relevant for learning to use digital technologies. Concretely, social support compensates poor digital trajectories for older grandmothers who face challenges when learning to use digital technologies.
- Exploring ageism and media ideologies through the lens of social media (Francesca Comunello, Simone Mulargia, Mireia Fernández-Ardèvol, Francesca Ieracitano, Andrea Rosales & Francesca Belotti). We investigate the generational use of social media and the interaction between age-related stereotypes and the practices of use surrounding digital platforms. Of particular interest are stereotypes –and discriminatory attitudes– towards older people. The departing point will be the reflection around digital platform usage
practices,and the social norms that dictate the “appropriate ways” of using them .Weintegrate two perspectives. First, the reflection on age-related stereotypes that become evident when (old and young) people talk about the practices and normativitiesaround digital platforms. Stereotypes are powerful tools able to influence normative behavior and create rules and roles (Stangor & Schaller, 2000) that shape digital adoption processes (Buccoliero & Bellio, 2014). Second, the interest in media ideologies and idioms of practice (Gershon, 2010), concepts that help understand how users perceive affordances and constraints (Norman, 2013) of digital platforms. People’s beliefs about how a medium structures communication shape how individuals use digital communication tools. We conducted 8 focus groups in Barcelona and Rome; half with older people (65+), half with teenagers (aged 16-19). Main results point towards stereotypical representations regarding “the other” age cohort. Teenagers tend to criticize how older people use social media -regarding content, form, skills, and practices. Such discourses seem highly normative, assuming that young people digital practices constitute “the norm”. Older people tend to criticize teenagers’ smartphone overuse while most believe younger people are highly skilled. Our research shows how digital platforms constitute powerful tools for triggering discourses implying stereotypical (and even ageist) attitudes toward older people.
- Performative enactments of intergenerational solidarity: Ageing, activism and affect (Daniel Blanche & Kim Sawchuk). Solidarity is
a commonlycited as a term in social movement literature, yet as May Chazan argues, rarely has solidarity been subject to adequate theorization (Chazan, 2016; Giugni & Passy, 2001). This paper queries the entanglements between ageing, activism and affectto understand the expressions and performative enactments of intergenerational solidarity. Drawing on interviews, observations, and engagements with older and younger activists in Barcelona (Catalonia, Spain) and Montreal (Quebec, Canada), we examine how soldarityoccurs in organizational structure (i.e, in regular meetings) and through specific actions (i.e., demonstrations). In the case of Barcelona, we discuss the Iaioflautas, an activist movement of older adults that emerged out of the youth-driven anti-austerity movements in Spain. In the case of Montreal, we speak to activists involved in social justice movements, such as Older Women Live and Respecting Elders: Communities Against Abuse. How do these groups address intergenerational solidarity? How is intergenerational solidarity dependent on history and contexts? What role does ageingplay in these processes? Drawing on theories of affect(Gregg and Seigworth, 2010) and generativity (Villar, 2012), we explore how coalitions and alliances between older and younger activists operate. We pay particular attention to expressions of affective dis/connection and the ways that intergenerational solidarity is performatively enacted by ageingactivists in our respective locations.