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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by transcript Verlag November 29, 2019

Slow Side of the Divide?

Older ICT Non- and Seldom-Users Discussing Social Acceleration and Social Change

  • Magdalena Kania-Lundholm
From the journal Digital Culture & Society


Older ICT non-users are often considered vulnerable and potentially socially and digitally excluded group. More recently age-based digital divides have been questioned by scholars aiming to provide a more nuanced understanding of the relationship between old age and technology non-use. Following this path, this article takes the experiences of being an older non- and/or seldom-ICT user and their potential exclusion as point of departure to talk about ideas and understandings of digital technologies and social change. The goal is to empirically explore and understand how the ideas and experiences of ICT nonusage are shared, and negotiated, among older non- and seldom-ICT users. The lived experience of different waves of mediatisation is a specific position in the life course allowing older people to reflect back upon changes prompted by technological development. The empirical data consist of six focus group interviews conducted in Sweden in 2017 with 30 older (65+) non- and seldom-users of ICT between the ages of 68 and 88 years. The results of the analysis show that by describing the ideas and experiences of non- and/or seldom-ICT use, the informants offer a broader reflection on social change and an ambivalent picture of social acceleration. They agree namely that digitalisation is an inevitable process but argue simultaneously that several practices connected to it are not necessarily making our lives easier. Participants experience the socio-technological development in the past 30 years as a very fast one, while adjustment to it deems to occur in a rather slow and weary way. It could be suggested that the nexus of old age on the one hand and non/seldom-ICT usage on the other, as well as their position in life, offer a perspective that can challenge the idea that technological development, ICT access and use are synonymous with efficiency, convenience and inclusion.

Published Online: 2019-11-29
Published in Print: 2019-12-01

© 2019 by transcript Verlag

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