Ageing and New Media: A New Analysis of Older Australians’ Support Networks

Australian Research Council Discovery Project

  • Dr Raelene Wilding (Chief Investigator, La Trobe University)
  • Associate Professor Loretta Baldassar (UWA)

Ageing and New Media is a collaborative research project coordinated by Loretta Baldassar (Anthropology and Sociology, The University of Western Australia) and Raelene Wilding (Sociology, Social Inquiry, La Trobe University). 

This three-year project (2016-2018) examines how support networks for older people are affected by their mobility and the dispersal of their family, friends and care services. Our goal is to highlight the current and potential role that new media might play in fostering local, distant and virtual support networks of older Australians. This will help to update both aged care policy and service delivery. 

The research uses participant observation and ethnographic life history interviews to compare experiences of diverse older migrants and non-migrants in both urban and regional locations, at home and in institutional care.

Our aims include:

  1. Examine the impact of mobility and migration on the dispersal of older people's support networks;
  2. Evaluate the current and potential role of new media in fostering new and existing networks; and
  3. Extend theoretical, policy and practice understandings of healthy 'ageing in place' by introducing what we call a 'mobilities and new media' perspective.

Access to social networks and a capacity to belong and engage with other people is now understood as a significant indicator of healthy ageing. Importantly, the increasing uptake of new communication technologies means that social activities, social interactions and a sense of belonging are no longer limited to local, proximate networks and communities. 

What remains unknown, and will be addressed by this project, is the role of distant and virtual support networks in the lives of older Australians, and the potential and actual role of new media in older people's experiences and uses of effective support networks.

Contact

For further information about this project, please contact:  

Dr Raelene Wilding
Department of Social Inquiry
La Trobe University 
T: +61 3 9479 2679
E: r.wilding@latrobe.edu.au