Ageing and everyday life with media – University of Copenhagen

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Ageing and everyday life with media

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:


Registration is required. Please write an email to:


Programme including abstracts

09:15 - 09:30  Welcome (KUA1, room 22.0.11)

09:30 - 10:45  Hospices, smartphones and sociality Keynote by Daniel Miller,
                         Professor of Anthropology, University College London

10:45 - 11:00  Coffee break

11:00 - 12:00  Personal media devices in individual lives: a realist reframing of the nexus
                          between mediated communication and everyday life Keynote by Rasmus
                          Helles, Associate professor, University of Copenhagen

12:00 - 13:00  Lunch

13:00 - 14:30 (KUA2, room 15A-0-13)

Growing old with digital media: thinking “of” or “with” media
Cecilie Givskov, Assistant professor, University of Copenhagen

Precarious ageing with media and “warm experts”
Maja Klausen, postdoc researcher, University of Copenhagen

Older people in nursing homes: agency through life with media
Christine Swane, Director, EGV Foundation (Social Inclusion of Older Adults), Denmark

14:30 - 14:45  Coffee break

14:45 - 15:45

Shifting perspectives: how older women produce generationally or individually framed narratives about media technologies in qualitative interview situations
Barbara Ratzenböck, Research associate & PhD candidate, University of Graz

Ensounded bodies, affective rhythms and social life: radio listening in a life-history perspective
Anne Leonora Blaakilde, postdoc researcher

15:45 - 16:00  Break

16:00 - 17:00

Between technical support and the living room: on the choice of ICT support services
Christoffer Bagger, research assistant, University of Copenhagen

Evoking a shared past or enforcing nostalgia?
Christa Lykke Christensen, Associate professor, University of Copenhagen

17:00 - 17:30  Discussion and closing remarks