Research Topic

Socio-Gerontechnology – New Perspectives on the Digital Transformation of Later Life

About this Research Topic

Digital infrastructures are increasingly shaping the experiences and the social construction of age and ageing. Studies in gerontology tend to theorize the relationship between ageing and digital technologies from an interventionist and instrumental perspective, that reduces the value of technology to the healthcare needs of older adults, often depicted as passive ‘users’. However, recent studies in Socio-Gerontechnology, at the intersection of gerontology and Science-and-Technology-Studies have significantly broadened this view beyond healthcare, to highlight how digital imperatives and cultures build upon their own constructions of age and ageing; for example, through negative images of ageing in technology design or ageist algorithms in artificial intelligence (AI) and big data analytics. Drawing upon theories of STS, new materialism, post-humanism, non-representational or practice theories, Socio-Gerontechnology studies suggest innovative approaches to conceptualizing the relationship between ageing and the digital that critique technical instrumentalism and associated ageist biases within a focus on the relational co-constitution of ageing and technologies in a digital world.

This Research Topic aims at bringing together new perspectives and theories in the social sciences that explore the relational terrain ageing and digital technologies, with an emphasis on the digital and material aspects that co-constitute later life. For example, contributions are welcome that conceptualize and explore the role of different kinds of (digital) data in shaping later life, including research on how big data analytics, algorithms and their associated biases are designed, applied or used in later life and influence the experience and construction of age and ageing. Further, contributions are welcome that conceptualize and explore the multiple ontologies and configurations of designing technologies for later life and their consequences for the construction of age and ageing. We especially welcome submissions that apply new theories and perspectives to the following topics:

· Digital life worlds of older adults and emerging digital cultures of later life
· The role of images of ageing and ageism in technology (e.g. robotics) design, digital media ideologies and digital imperatives
· Aspects of (big) data and AI in shaping in later life, including algorithmic ageing and age-biases of algorithms
· The place and effects of digital time, digital temporalities, and digital futures in later life
· The technological formation of new age-inequalities and power relations

We encourage submissions from researchers across the social sciences and humanities and are open to theoretical papers as well as diverse methodological approaches, including quantitative, qualitative, mixed-method designs, ethnographic and participatory research that makes a contribution to theorizing the relationship between ageing and digital technologies.


Keywords: Ageing, gerontology, science-and-technology studies, digital transformation, digital inequality


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

Digital infrastructures are increasingly shaping the experiences and the social construction of age and ageing. Studies in gerontology tend to theorize the relationship between ageing and digital technologies from an interventionist and instrumental perspective, that reduces the value of technology to the healthcare needs of older adults, often depicted as passive ‘users’. However, recent studies in Socio-Gerontechnology, at the intersection of gerontology and Science-and-Technology-Studies have significantly broadened this view beyond healthcare, to highlight how digital imperatives and cultures build upon their own constructions of age and ageing; for example, through negative images of ageing in technology design or ageist algorithms in artificial intelligence (AI) and big data analytics. Drawing upon theories of STS, new materialism, post-humanism, non-representational or practice theories, Socio-Gerontechnology studies suggest innovative approaches to conceptualizing the relationship between ageing and the digital that critique technical instrumentalism and associated ageist biases within a focus on the relational co-constitution of ageing and technologies in a digital world.

This Research Topic aims at bringing together new perspectives and theories in the social sciences that explore the relational terrain ageing and digital technologies, with an emphasis on the digital and material aspects that co-constitute later life. For example, contributions are welcome that conceptualize and explore the role of different kinds of (digital) data in shaping later life, including research on how big data analytics, algorithms and their associated biases are designed, applied or used in later life and influence the experience and construction of age and ageing. Further, contributions are welcome that conceptualize and explore the multiple ontologies and configurations of designing technologies for later life and their consequences for the construction of age and ageing. We especially welcome submissions that apply new theories and perspectives to the following topics:

· Digital life worlds of older adults and emerging digital cultures of later life
· The role of images of ageing and ageism in technology (e.g. robotics) design, digital media ideologies and digital imperatives
· Aspects of (big) data and AI in shaping in later life, including algorithmic ageing and age-biases of algorithms
· The place and effects of digital time, digital temporalities, and digital futures in later life
· The technological formation of new age-inequalities and power relations

We encourage submissions from researchers across the social sciences and humanities and are open to theoretical papers as well as diverse methodological approaches, including quantitative, qualitative, mixed-method designs, ethnographic and participatory research that makes a contribution to theorizing the relationship between ageing and digital technologies.


Keywords: Ageing, gerontology, science-and-technology studies, digital transformation, digital inequality


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

30 November 2021 Abstract
31 May 2022 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

30 November 2021 Abstract
31 May 2022 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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