New publications on ageing, health and smartphone use in Ireland

Alex Clegg's picture

We would like to draw your attention to the publication of two open-access eBooks which present original perspectives deriving from the Anthropology of Smartphones and Smart Ageing (ASSA) project. A multisited research project at UCL Anthropology.

Ageing with Smartphones in Ireland: When life becomes craft
You can download the eBook for free here.

Based on two ethnographies, one within Dublin and the other from the Dublin region, the book shows that people, rather than seeing themselves as old, focus on crafting a new life in retirement. Our research participants apply new ideals of sustainability both to themselves and to their environment. As part of Ireland’s mainstream middle class, they may have more time than the young to embrace green ideals and more money to move to energy-efficient homes, throw out household detritus and protect their environment.

The smartphone has become integral to this new trajectory. For some it is an intimidating burden linked to being on the wrong side of a new digital divide. But for most, however, it has brought back the extended family and old friends and helped resolve intergenerational conflicts though facilitating new forms of grandparenting. It has also become central to health issues, whether by Googling information or looking after frail parents. The smartphone enables this sense of getting younger as people download the music of their youth and develop new interests.

The Global Smartphone: Beyond a youth technology
You can download the eBook for free here.

The smartphone is often literally right in front of our nose, so you would think we would know what it is. But do we? To find out, 11 anthropologists each spent 16 months living in communities in Africa, Asia, Europe and South America, focusing on the take up of smartphones by older people. Their research reveals that smartphones are technology for everyone, not just for the young.

The authors show how the smartphone is more than an ‘app device’ and explore differences between what people say about smartphones and how they use them. The smartphone is unprecedented in the degree to which we can transform it. As a result, it quickly assimilates personal values. In order to comprehend it, we must take into consideration a range of national and cultural nuances. Only then can we know what a smartphone is and understand its consequences for people’s lives around the world.

Both books are available as a free download from UCL Press. We believe it is very important, where we can, to ensure the availability of our research findings and we would be grateful if you can spread news of these publications to any networks you are aware of. For example, those who might find them useful for teaching purposes.

Best wishes,
Alex Clegg