: CALL FOR PAPERS - When theory meets practice. Entanglements of ageing and technology at the cross-roads of STS and Age Studies

In recent years, ageing and later life have started to be relevant topics in STS (Cozza et al. 2017; Peine et al. 2015; Sánchez-Criado et al. 2014; Urban 2017). While social and critical gerontologists have long debunked biomedical models of ageing to show that ageing “is both a bio-demographic reality and a social construction reacting back into each other” (Katz 2014: 18), materiality and embodiments of ageing have only received limited attention (Latimer and López Gomez 2019). Some exceptions can be found in feminist technoscience (Joyce and Mamo 2006; McNeil and Roberts 2012) with studies, for example, on vision and visuality of technoscience enacting the ageing human body (Åsberg and Lykke 2010) or works engaged with biomedicine and patient experience of becoming older (Roberts 2006). Such attention on social and material aspects of ageing points to where STS scholars have started to engage with critical gerontologists and explore the co-constitution of ageing and technology (Peine and Neven 2019). Such studies have critiqued, in particular, the widespread assumptions among policy makers, health-oriented researchers and other practitioners that ageing and technologies are separable, and have instead explored the assemblages and enactment through which they exist only in relation to each other (Joyce et al. 2017; Wanka and Gallistl 2018).
The entanglement between ageing and technologies can be put into the foreground by focusing on design. Design can be defined as “an intervention in practice” (Shove 2014: 41) through which designers configure materials, ideologies, and competences that affect the everyday life. When thinking on the ageing population and the unprecedented diffusion of technologies made with older people as the target group, the relevance of design emerges straightforwardly (Cozza et al. 2018). Some design researchers have urged to open the black box of technologies of this kind and analyse the configuring of their social and material components by applying STS theories (Cozza et al. 2019; Frennert and Östlund 2014; Östlund et al. 2015). The critical potential of STS may help to challenge assumptions on technology, ageing, and later life and open up to alternative views.
For this special issue, we invite to zoom in on technological design, implementation, and evaluation as relevant sites for the co-constitution of ageing and technology. In particular, we explore the notion of “theory”, and precisely how theories of ageing inform, clash, become interfaced and reassembled at these sites. Building on Kurt Lewin’s (1945) maxim that “there is nothing as practical as a good theory”, we look for contributions that explore what happens when theories meet practice (for instance, when theories of privacy by design need to be cared for in practice, when theories of plug-and-play meet practices of bricolage, when theories of aging configure processes of co-creation). In short, we seek contributions that explore how theories of ageing and older people are constituted in the practices of designing, implementing and evaluating technologies. Such technologies may include, but are not limited to, active and passive monitoring devices, robotics, smartphones and/or tablets, smart home devices, medical technologies, and others.

This special issue of Tecnoscienza. The Italian Journal of Science & Technology Studies invites papers that explore issues related (but not limited) to the following themes:

  • the constitution of ageing from a sociomaterial perspective
  • the design processes from the point of view of scholars at the cross-roads of STS and Age Studies
  • the co-creation of technologies with and for older people
  • the relationship between technology, ageing, and later life from the point of view of feminist technoscience/gender studies
  • the contribution of post-human theories to the analysis of technologies for older people
  • potentialities and limits of STS theories and/or “interventions” in studying design practices having older people as target group

Deadline for abstract submissions: December 10th, 2019


Abstracts (in English) with a maximum length of 500 words should be sent as email attachments to redazione@tecnoscienza.net and carbon copied to the guest editors. Notification of acceptance will be communicated by mid-January, 2020. Full papers (in English with a maximum length of 8,000 words including notes and references) will be due by April 30th, 2020 and will be subject to a double blind peer review process.

For information and questions, please do not hesitate to contact the guest editors:

Michela Cozza, michela.cozza@mdh.se
Britt Östlund, brittost@kth.se
Alexander Peine, A.Peine@uu.nl

Åsberg, C. and Lykke, N. (2010) Feminist technoscience studies, in “European Journal of Women’s Studies”, 17 (4), pp. 299-305.
Cozza, M., De Angeli, A. and Tonolli, L. (2017) Ubiquitous technologies for older people, in “Personal and Ubiquitous Computing”, 21 (3), pp. 607-619.
Cozza M., Crevani, L., Hallin, A. and Schaeffer, J. (2018) Future ageing: welfare technology practices for our future older selves, in “Futures. The journal of policy, planning and futures studies”, doi: 10.1016/j.futures.2018.03.011
Cozza, M., Cusinato, A., Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos, A. (2019) Atmosphere in participatory design, in “Science as Culture”, https://doi.org/10.1080/09505431.2019.1681952
Frennert, S. and Östlund, B. (2016) What happens when seniors participate in new eHealth schemes?, in “Disability and Rehabilitation: Assistive Technology”, 11 (7), pp. 572-580.
Joyce, K. and Mamo, L. (2006) Graying the cyborg. New directions in feminist analyses of aging, science, and technology, in T.M. Calasanti and K.F. Slevin (eds.), Age matters. Realigning feminist thinking. New York/London, Routledge, pp. 99-121.
Joyce, K., Peine, A., Neven, L. and Kohlbacher, F. (2017) Aging: The socio-material constitution of later life. In U. Felt, R. Fouché, C. Miller and L. Smith-Doerr L (eds), The handbook of science and technology studies (fourth edition). Cambridge: The MIT Press, pp. 915-942.
Katz, S. (2014) What is age studies, in “Age Culture Humanities”, 1, pp. 17-23.
Latimer, J. and López Gómez, D. (2019) Intimate entanglements: Affects, more-than-human intimacies and the politics of relations in science and technology, in “The Sociological Review Monographs”, 67 (2), pp. 247-263.
Lewin, K. (1945) The research centre for group dynamics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in “Sociometrics”, 8, pp. 128-135.
McNeil, M. and Roberts, C. (2012) Feminist science and technology studies, in R. Buikema, G. Griffin and N. Lykke (eds.), Theories and methodologies in postgraduate feminist research: researching differently. New York, Routledge, pp. 29-42.
Östlund, B. Olander, E., Jonsson, O. and Frennert, S. (2015) STS-inspired design to meet the challenges of modern aging. Welfare technology as a tool to promote user driven innovations or another way to keep older users hostage?, in “Technological Forecasting & Social Change”, 93, pp. 82-90.
Peine, A. Faulkner, A., Jæger, B. and Moors, E. (2015) Science, technology and the ‘grand challenge’ of ageing—understanding the socio-material constitution of later life, in “Technological Forecasting and Social Change”, 93, pp. 1-9.
Peine, A. and Neven, L. (2019) From Intervention to Co-constitution: New Directions in Theorizing about Aging and Technology, in “The Gerontologist”, 59 (1), pp. 15-21.
Roberts, C. (2006) What can I do to help myself? Somatic individuality and contemporary hormonal bodies, in “Science Studies”, 19 (2), pp. 54-76.
Sánchez-Criado, T., López, D. Roberts, C. and Domènech, M. (2014) Installing telecare, installing users: Felicity conditions for the instauration of usership, in “Science, Technology, & Human Values”, 39 (5), pp. 694-719.
Shove, E. (2014) On ‘The design of everyday life’, in “Tecnoscienza. Italian journal of science & technology studies”, 5 (2), pp. 33-42.
Urban, M. (2017) ‘This really takes it out of you!’ The senses and emotions in digital health practices of the elderly, in “Digital Health”, 3, pp. 1-16.
Wanka, A. and Gallistl, V. (2018) Doing age in a digitized world – A material praxeology of aging with technology, in “Frontiers in Sociology”, 3 (6), doi: 10.3389/fsoc.2018.00006

ISSN: 2038-3460