Ageing and everyday life with media – University of Copenhagen

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Ageing and everyday life with media

February 22, 2017

Faculty of Humanities, Søndre Campus, Karen Blixens Vej 4, 2300 Copenhagen S

09-12: room 22.0.11, KUA1

13-18: room 15A.0.13, KUA2

Today’s older people have experienced multiple media technologies become part of daily life during the 20th and 21st centuries – from telephones and televisions to computers and smartphones. Media technologies are not what they used to be. The mass media prevail, but are accompanied by a proliferation of media for mobile, personal and social use. Media devices have become disassociated from the household and allow people to act across time and space in unprecedented ways. The digitization of governance health and care and the idea of media as assistive technologies are specifically pertinent to the experience of growing old in today’s society.

Later life is not what it used to be either. On the one hand, a growing number of adults in Western societies live longer with better health and more resources and opportunities after their working lives. They can be caring grandparents, single, divorced, or re-married. They can enjoy later life as a phase of self-realization through travel and a variety of other social and cultural activities. On the other hand, increasing economic, social, and cultural inequality and globalization compromise the lives of a growing number of older adults with few personal resources. It is clear that equilibrium and stability played larger roles in the everyday lives of older people in earlier phases of modernity.

Later life is a phase characterized by experiences that turn everyday life upside down. Individuals have to reorient themselves in relation to work, finances, and cultural and social life. The sense of place, rhythm, and routine gradually becomes challenged by disease and frailty and the loss of spouses, family, and friends. In the last phase of life individuals can experience dependency on help and care, terminal illness and in some cases a move to an institutional setting. In this sense later life can be considered a phase of intensified learning and adaptation.

The conference will explore the role of media in all of this. We will consider everyday life with media technologies as significant to individual agency, to identity and biography, to rhythm and routine, to isolation and loneliness – and to our understanding of age itself. Of particular interest is how everyday life with media relates to constructions of the individual’s life history and ageing, as illustrated by notions of the ‘third’ age, the ‘fourth’ age, and of ‘normal’ ageing.

The conference is financed by the VELUX Foundations and organized by Christine Swane & Cecilie Givskov. Please direct questions to: