Aging the technoscape | Anthropology & Aging

Aging the technoscape
Do technologies like chairs and walkers have a place in our imagination of the technoscape? How might this image help us to think differently about Mauss’s concept of “techniques of the body” from the perspective of the older adult?
Theme issue (Vol 36, No. 2) of Anthropology & Aging, the official journal of the Association for Anthropology & Gerontology (AAGE)



Of Technoscapes and Elderscapes: Editor’s Commentary on the Special Issue “Aging the Technoscape”Jason Danely

Towards a Gerontoludic ManifestoBob De Schutter, Vero Vanden Abeele
Digital games have become an important part of the technoscape, not only for youngsters, but for players of all ages. In this article, we present a “gerontoludic” manifesto.

Design for Aging: Perspectives on Technology, Older Adults, and Educating EngineersCaitrin Lynch
Does the development of new technologies invariably contribute positively to the daily lives of older adults in the contemporary United States and elsewhere? Eleven years into teaching anthropology to engineers,and five years into co-teaching a course on design for aging called “Engineering for Humanity,” my answer is: Not always, but we can make it so.

Research Reports

Embedding engineers in elderly care homes when researching new technologies for careGreet Baldewijns, Tom Croonenborghs, Bart Vanrumste
As the number of people above 65 continuously grows the demand for appropriate support to allow this group of people to live independently increases as well. Consequently, a lot of research effort is focused on the development of new technologies that can provide this support. In contrast, only a limited number of these new developments are successfully launched on the healthcare market. In order to facilitate this penetration of the healthcare market, an intense collaboration strategy between healthcare workers, older adults, informal caregivers and engineers is proposed in this paper.


Multivalent moves in senior home care: From surveillance to care-valencePeter A. Lutz
In this article I trace mediated effects that surface with attentions to seniors and their bodies in care. This includes new technologies for visualizing and monitoring the body. I also consider the implications of mediated body-technology attentions for care surveillance. Surveillance offers valuable analytical purchase in the study of care. Yet, care attentions are not always straightforward. These can become obstructed, negotiated and transformed with technologies for care. There are multiple empirical examples of how technically mediated attentions produce ambiguous or multivalent effects, both in the literature and my own ethnographic work. These multivalent effects, I argue, displace the notion of surveillance in care. To strengthen my argument, I draw on STS-inspired anthropological studies of care. Lastly I proffer the term “care-valence” as a heuristic compliment to the notion of care surveillance. This term, I proffer, benefits the analysis of how care attentions effect somatechnic relations.

Societal Participation of the Elderly: Information and Communication Technologies as a “Social Junction”Peter Biniok, Iris Menke
The technoscape is described as the global configuration of technology as well as its intermingling and intertwining with other spheres of society. In fact, society and technology are hard to separate. Technology and the overall technoscape influence lifestyles and living conditions; conversely, developing, implementing and utilizing technologies all shape the technoscape. Starting from this interdependence, we examine how sociotechnical configurations determine social participation among the elderly in rural regions. To investigate the extent to which social participation of the elderly may be enhanced, a tablet PC with a self-developed communication platform was submitted to a field test. The results of our qualitative analysis show three ideal-type developments: the emergence of a new participation space, the extension of established participation space and engagement in the existing participation space. Technology as a “social junction” can thus have positive impacts on the social participation of the elderly.

Conceptual Frameworks and Practical Applications to Connect Generations in the TechnoscapeMatthew Kaplan, Mariano Sánchez, Leah Bradley
There are many ways to frame and use technology so it functions as a pathway to intergenerational engagement. The ever evolving technoscape is filled with powerful technological tools and resources that help people connect, communicate, build relationships, and take collective action across generations. This technology can be life-altering, especially for isolated seniors and families navigating long distance relationships. However, at the center of the intervention equation is not the technology itself, but the quest for tapping into the relationship-enhancing potential of the technology. To explore this potential, an international survey was conducted with 46 intergenerational programs that reflect innovation and intensive uses of technology. Results demonstrate that important strides are being made in utilizing new technology for effectively connecting generations and positively affecting aging adults’ lives.