This project investigates the generational use of social media and the interaction between age-related stereotypes and the practices of use surrounding digital platforms. Of particular interest are stereotypes –and discriminatory attitudes– towards older people. The departing point will be the reflection around digital platform usage practices, and the social norms that dictate the “appropriate ways” of using them.
To do so, we integrate two perspectives: 1) the reflection on age-related stereotypes that become evident when (old and young) people talk about the practices and normativities around digital platforms; and 2) the interest in media ideologies and idioms of practice (Gershon 2010), and concepts that help understand how users perceive affordances and constraints (Norman 2013) of digital platforms.
Stereotypes have long been at the center of the reflection of the social sciences, which consider them as powerful tools that can influence normative behavior and create rules and roles (Stangor & Schaller 2000) that also shape digital adoption processes (Buccoliero & Bellio 2014). Particularly, ageism (“stereotypes, prejudices and / or discrimination” based on age of the individual or the discriminated groups, Iversen et al. 1999) increases its visibility both in the scientific and the public debate. When negotiating media ideologies and idioms of practices, and commenting on them, people give voice to several stereotypes, with regard to “other people”, who are described as not being able to use the platforms “in an appropriate way”. Age-related stereotypes appear as particularly powerful in this domain (see Comunello, Fernández-Ardèvol, Mulargia, & Belotti 2017).
Data collection: This study will engage with different age groups (young, adult, and older individuals) through focus groups. Reasoned choice will guide the selection of participants and fieldwork will end when saturation is reached. No less than four focus groups will be conducted in Rome and in Barcelona.