New Book: Socio-gerontechnology

Interdisciplinary Critical Studies of Ageing and Technology

What to make of the increasing relevance of digital technologies in the lives of older people? Two salient trends shape social change in the 21th century – demographic change and significant technological change and development. Yet, older people are often absent from public debates around digitization, artificial intelligence, the internet of things, smart cities and other allegedly “hot” topics. If they are present, they are the object of large-scale funding operations that treat them as a special interest group for technological innovations that support them in dealing with health or care related problems.

However, recent research indicates that many older people routinely use mundane digital devices like smartphones, fitness trackers, social media, electrical bicycles and many others. It becomes increasingly clear that technology – and digital technology in particular – is a key element in the lives of many older people.

What do these trends mean for how we understand and live old age? And how can we help global innovation and technology policy to proceed on more realistic ideas of the many relations older people already have with technologies in their everyday lives? Not just reduce them to old stereotypes that focus on bodily and cognitive ailments?

These are key questions that our new edited book “Socio-gerontechnology – Interdisciplinary Critical Studies of Ageing and Technology” addresses, which brings together some of the leading social sciences and humanities writing on ageing and technology to inspire critique of and new ways forward for policy and design focused on ageing and technology.

International in scope, and with 15 original contributions, three commentaries and an afterword, the book is a vital resource for those looking for…

  • … a rich repository of case studies that illuminate the diverse encounters through which ageing and technology shape each other; case studies include such diverse settings as social media use, design of care robots, ageing-in-place policies, technology futuring, participatory methods, public consultations of age-friendly cities, dementia care and many others.
  • … a common understanding and non-ageist terminology to talk about ageing and technology in ways that don’t position older people and ageing as problems and technologies as solutions; the interdisciplinary scholarship in the book explores a more productive language that is able to capture the many challenges and opportunities that may arise when ageing and technology meet each other.
  • new ideas for co-creation and participatory methods that bring critical social science and humanities perspectives to bear on innovation policy and technology design in the field of gerontechnology.