This month’s In Focus article comes to us from Dr. Sakari Taipale at the University of Jyväskylä in Finland. Taipale is a research group leader for the Centre of Excellence in Research on Ageing and Care (CoEAgeCare), which studies the transformations in ageing in a digital age through analyses of everyday life and societal and policy change. In his paper, Taipale considers the ways in which digitalization of everyday life has shifted the ways we think about age and ageing.
ACT is pleased to announce the release of the report of the first wave of its cross-country longitudinal study. The report, which is titled Older audiences in the digital media environment: A cross-national longitudinal study, provides an overview of some key findings about seniors’ uses of media from a 2016 wave of quantitative data collection, undertaken in seven countries.
The project involves teams from multiple partnered universities in Austria, Canada, Israel, the Netherlands, Romania, and Spain. It offers a unique opportunity to explore possible processes of displacement of traditional dominant media by innovative communication practices within the older audience of new media. Replicating Nimrod’s (2017) study of older audiences, data is being collected on a biannual basis over a five-year period, for a total of three waves. This first report outlines some of the results from the first wave of the study, which is based on surveys from Internet users aged 60 and up, to whom we will return in the following waves.
une 15 is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD). It was initiated by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations in 2006, and serves as a day for the world to voice its opposition to the mistreatment of seniors. In Montreal, ACT’s community partner Respecting Elders: Communities Against Abuse (RECAA) uses the day to inclusively raise awareness of elder mistreatment and elder abuse, by way of theatre practices, creative interventions and hand-to-hand leafleting in the streets.
ACT is pleased to announce the recipients of the ACT Student Bursaries, which are awarded annually to students enrolled in master’s or doctoral programs in ACT partner universities, and who are conducting research on the intersections of ageing, communication and technologies as part of their thesis projects.
Sarit Okun is a doctoral student in the Department of Communication Studies at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel, working under the supervision of Galit Nimrod. She was born on a religious kibbutz to the south of Israel, and raised in an orthodox Jewish society that observes a Torah and Halacha. Thus, the religious environment has always been a significant and central part of her way of life. Okun’s current research, entitled “Online Spirituality in Later Life,” seeks to understand whether and how online religious activity contributes to the lives of seniors. For this study, a Participatory Action Research (PAR) program with 26 religious elders is being conducted, with plans to share the results in a new website built for the purposes of the study. As Okun writes:
“I believe that PAR with an adult group is an excellent way to learn deeply about the positive and negative contribution of online religion to the older population. I wish to take this opportunity to thank ACT wholeheartedly for the award, and hope that my research will be useful and will help theoretical and practical aspects of ACT research.”
The other recipient of the student bursary is Karine Bellerive. Bellerive is a doctoral student in the Department of Communication at the Université de Montréal, under the supervision of Line Grenier. She is particularly interested in self-writing practices and their value as modes of knowledge production, as well as issues related to memory and ageing. Her thesis project is entitled, Exploration de la force performative des écritures de soi-s par une recherche-création féministe : vieillissements et devenirs (roughly translating as Exploration of the performative strength of self-writing through a feminist research creation project: aging and becoming). She explores writing through writing, and questions what can emerge from self-writing processes. Karine is also a lecturer in the Department of Letters and Communications at the Université de Sherbrooke, where she has been teaching theories of communication and writing since 2008, and where she has been involved in various educational committees. As Bellerive reflects, “I would like to say that it is an honour for me to have been awarded this scholarship and to formally integrate the ACT research group, whose projects and mission are really inspiring. I hope that my contribution will be as inspiring for the other members”.
Complaints from Canadians about the practices of phone, television and internet providers have increased by 73% in the last year. Media reports relaying situations of abuse, including tactics of overselling and upselling, are also multiplying. Who, exactly, is winning from a system that profits from abusive practices and consumer confusion?
As ACT’s Kim Sawchuk, Constance Lafontaine and Kendra Besanger recently argued in an op-ed published in the Montreal Gazette, seniors, especially those living their later years in situations of financial precarity, are placed at a marked disadvantage.
In collaboration with the Public Interest and Advocacy Centre (PIAC), ACT has set up a phone line to collect stories from older Canadians about dealing with service providers. Call us at 1-800-835-1979 and leave us a short message as well as contact information so we may call you back.
ACT is seeking a Concordia University undergraduate or graduate student to join the ACT team as a research assistant for a 5 to 10-hour per week contract for three months, with the possibility of renewal in the fall. The salary will be commensurate with the student’s academic level and current TRAC rates.
Over the past few years, Concordia RAs have been involved in various projects, from coordinating and facilitating digital arts workshops with seniors, building relationships with community organizations, researching and writing articles, and creating videos, podcasts and other knowledge translation tools. You can see what ACT has been up to lately by browsing through our website, and if you’re interested in working with us, we want to hear from you!
We are looking for someone who is enthusiastic and hard working. Experience with small group facilitation, digital media skills, proficiency in French, and interest in aging studies are assets for this position. To apply, please send a brief email cover letter and a CV to firstname.lastname@example.org by June 1, 2018. Any question pertaining to this position can be sent to Constance Lafontaine at email@example.com.
If you google Alzheimer’s and dementia, you will find articles on “the ticking time bomb” of dementia and the socio-economic costs of Alzheimer’s. You’ll encounter videos of scientists speaking authoritatively on our inevitable cognitive decline and perhaps, most alarmingly, you’ll read messages explaining that we reach our intellectual peak at 25 years of age and it’s all just a sad descent from there.
ABOUT THE RESEARCH
The research project “Ageing, communication, technologies: experiencing a digital world in later life” (ACT) is seeking applications for a postdoctoral fellowship in the Department of Communication Studies at Concordia University, under the supervision of ACT Director Dr. Kim Sawchuk.
ACT is a multi-methodological and interdisciplinary project funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, and brings together researchers, local community partners and international institutional partners to investigate the transformation of the experiences of ageing with the proliferation of new forms of mediated communications in networked societies.
ACT is offering a postdoctoral fellowship in the area of “Ageing, Communication, Technologies” and invites applications from candidates whose research examines intersects with ACT’s mandate, and with one of its three research axes.
Agency in Ageing: Collaborative Creativity and the Digital Arts in Later Life encompasses a program of research that involves individuals and communities in the development of participatory action research projects that have both scholarly and creative outcomes. This approaches takes seriously people’s everyday interactions with technologies, and uses these experiences to explore what it means to be a critical citizen in the information age in a process of collaborative knowledge creation.
Critical Mediations: Everyday Life and Cultures of Ageing examines the everyday life practices and the variegated mediated experiences of adults in later life. Looking at how older adults engage with music, photography, film, television, or gaming, to name but a few of the key areas that are increasingly subject to transformations in their modes of production and circulation, this research employs methods and concepts drawn from cultural studies and the humanities.
Telecommunication Technologies: Ageing in Networked Societies investigates ageing in the context of networked societies. Research in this area primarily is conducted through methodologies associated with the social sciences, bridging internet and telecommunications research with ageing studies, including – but not limited to – cellphones that allow for talking, texting, and video calling, laptops for Skyping with grandchildren, and tablets for reading books, playing (intergenerational) digital games, or accessing the internet.
The Postdoctoral Fellowship in Ageing, Communication and Technologies entails a yearly salary of $45,000 CAD and can begin as early as August 2018. Only applications for one-year projects will be considered, but there may be an opportunity for re-application for a second year. The ACT Postdoctoral Fellowship will be housed at Concordia University in Montreal, but can be undertaken in collaboration with a partner institution of ACT (see our full list of partners).
A central goal of ACT is to train a new generation of Canadian scholars in the study of ageing from the perspective of the social sciences, the arts and/or the humanities. As such, in addition to conducting and completing their own research project, the chosen candidate will be expected to participate actively in the intellectual development of ACT, to work on a regular basis from the ACT offices located in downtown Montreal, and to perform some of the following tasks that are intended to complement their postdoctoral training: assist in the organization and implementation of academic and community events, (including conferences and workshops), conduct public and university lectures, contribute to the development of collaborative projects within ACT, assist in the preparation of grant applications.
The successful candidates will have a PhD in hand before beginning the position. Preference will be given to Canadian citizens and permanent residents.
HOW TO APPLY
Application Deadline: June 1, 2018 (for an August to October 2018 entry)
In a single email addressed to firstname.lastname@example.org, please provide the following three components as individual attachments.
1) A letter of intent (maximum 3 pages) that articulates the research project to be
undertaken, how the research fits within the mandate of ACT, the candidate’s suitability
and expertise, the applicant’s timeline and collaborative interests within the ACT
2) A CV.
3) A list of three references with complete contact information, who could be called upon to write letters of recommendation.
Two Concordia research teams have successfully pressured the City of Montreal into rethinking how it will get feedback from seniors to foster an “age-friendly” community.
On March 14, 2018, Shannon Hebblethwaite appeared on CTV Montreal at noon to discuss her ACT-funded research project Grannies on the Net. Hebblethwaite discusses the roles that ICTs play in the lives of grandmothers, including how they factor in family relationships. For Hebblethwaite’s respondents, digital technologies can represent both “a blessing and a curse”. Watch the full interview below.