Doing digital exclusion - technology practices of older internet non-users

Research output: Journal article (peer-reviewed)Journal article

4 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Gerontological literature has widely explored barriers to technology use in later life, often drawing upon binary conceptualizations of "using" and "not using" a certain technological device. However, such concepts have been increasingly up for debate. Using a praxeological approach, this study aims to explore technology use and non-use in later life not as dichotomous counterparts, but as routine experiences that take place in the everyday lives of older adults, asking: Which technology practices that go beyond using and not using a certain device can be found in the everyday lives of older non-users? How are these practices related to experiences of age and aging? The paper draws upon data from 15 semi-structured interviews with older adults (65+) in Austria, who self-identify as 'non-users' of digital technologies. Data was analyzed using thematic coding (Flick, 2016) and revealed that while interviewees saw themselves as "non-users" of digital technologies, they all regularly engaged with digital technologies in their daily lives. These manifold everyday engagements with digital technologies can be summarized as four bundles of technology practices: (1) avoidance practices, (2) usage practices, (3) appropriation practices, and (4) subjectivation practices. Non-users regularly engaged in and transitioned between these practice bundles. Not using digital technologies therefore emerged as an ambivalent, everyday experience, rather than an actual practice pattern that can be measured using binary categories of 'use' and 'non-use'. By understanding the use and non-use of digital technologies in later life not as binary counterparts, but as an active process of doing, this paper highlights how the use and non-use of digital technologies is not a rational decision, but rather an ensemble of avoidance, usage, and appropriation practices that older adults experience and negotiate in their everyday lives. This paper therefore suggests moving away from technology use and non-use as central concepts for studying technology in later life, and instead questioning which practices are valued as a 'right' or 'real' way of using digital technologies, and which are devalued as 'wrong' usage.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100973
Pages (from-to)100973
JournalJournal of Aging Studies
Volume59
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021

Keywords

  • Aged
  • Aging
  • Digital Technology
  • Geriatrics
  • Humans
  • Internet
  • Technology

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