Dr Raelene

Dr Raelene Wilding

Associate Professor

College of Arts, Social Sciences and Commerce

Humanities and Social Sciences

Department of Social Inquiry

SS 418, Melbourne (Bundoora)


PhD (University of Western Australia).



Membership of professional associations

The Australian Sociological Association (TASA), International Sociological Association (ISA)

Area of study


Brief profile

How are new technologies and new media transforming how people perceive themselves and their most intimate family relationships? What are the shifts in family practices of care and support that emerge from their engagements with new technologies? These are the guiding questions underpinning my research, leading me to work with people from a diverse range of backgrounds.

In my current project, Ageing and New Media (with Loretta Baldassar, UWA, ARC DP160102552), we are exploring how older Australians from culturally diverse backgrounds use a range of new media technologies to keep in touch and exchange support with family and friends living both locally and around the world. We are working with older people who live in rural, regional and urban Australia, in residential care and independent living contexts, who were born in Australia, China, India, Italy, Myanmar, Poland, Somalia and the United Kingdom.

Our insights into new media as a resource for maintaining continuities of self, family and community build on two earlier projects. In Home Lands, I explored (with Sandra Gifford, Swinburne University, and industry partners ARC LP0989149) the ways in which young people from refugee backgrounds use communication technologies and audiovisual media production to produce and maintain links between dispersed homes. In Transnational Aged Care (with Loretta Baldassar, UWA and Cora Baldock, Murdoch University) I considered how migrants in Australia cared for their ageing parents in their home countries, and paid particular attention to their uses of communication technologies to provide support.

Other recent and emerging projects include an investigation of the impact of assistive devices on the family lives and selfhood of older people (2018-ongoing) and the navigation of regional resettlement by transnational Karen humanitarian migrants (with Caitlin Nunn, Durham University), as well as supporting the Transforming Human Societies Research Focus Area at La Trobe University as Deputy Director.

I welcome applications for HDR supervision on any of the above topics, and have supervised PhD theses on topics as diverse as marriage in Thailand (Natcharee Suwannapat) and Vietnam (Thanh Vu Thi), cross-cultural online dating (Wilasinee Pananakhonsab), second generation ethnic identities (Cathrin Anderson), Sri Lankan soap operas (Shashini Gamage) and refugee media production (Manoch Chammuangpak).   

Research interests


- Migrant and refugee identities


- Intimacy and relationships

- Migration and transnationalism

Teaching units

  • SOC1SAC Introduction to Sociology
  • SOC2SOR Sociology of Relationships
  • SOC3MSR Social Research Methods
  • SOC3EAI Ethnicity and Identity

Recent publications


  • Wilding, R 2017 Families, Intimacy and Globalization: Floating Ties. Palgrave, Houndmills.
  • Fozdar, F, Wilding, R & Hawkins, M 2009, Race and Ethnic Relations, Oxford University Press, South Melbourne.
  • Baldassar, L, Baldock, C & Wilding, R 2007, Families Caring Across Borders: Migration, Ageing and Transnational Caregiving. Palgrave, Houndmill.
  • Wilding, R & Tilbury, F (eds) 2004, A Changing People: Diverse Contributions to the State of Western Australia. Department of Premier and Cabinet, WA and Office of Multicultural Interests, WA, Perth.

Journal Articles

  • Wilding, R. & Baldassar, L. 2018 ‘Aging, migration and media: the significance of transnational care’. Journal of Sociology.
  • Millard, A, Baldassar, L & Wilding, R 2018 ‘The significance of digital citizenship in the wellbeing of older migrants’. Public Health.
  • Wilding, R & Nunn, C 2017 ‘Non-metropolitan productions of multiculturalism: Refugee settlement in rural Australia’. Ethnic and Racial Studies https://doi.org/10.1080/01419870.2017.1394479
  • Baldassar, L, Wilding, R, Boccagni, P & Merla, L 2017, ‘Aging in place in a mobile world: New media and older people’s support networks’. Transnational Social Review 7(1): 2-9.
  • Baldassar, L, Nedelcu, M, Merla, L & Wilding, R 2016, 'ICT-based co-presence in transnational families and communities: Challenging the premise of face-to-face proximity in sustaining relationships', Global Networks vol. 16, no. 2, pp. 133-144.
  • Robertson, Z, Wilding, R & Gifford, A 2016, 'Mediating the family imaginary: Young people negotiating absence in transnational refugee families', Global Networks vol. 16, no. 2, pp. 219-236.
  • Lems, A, Gifford, S & Wilding, R 2015, 'New myths of Oz: The Australian beach and the negotiation of national belonging by refugee background youth', Continuum vol. 30, no. 1, pp. 32-44.
  • Wilding, R. & S. Gifford 2013, ‘Introduction to special issue – Forced displacement, refugees and ICTs: Transformations of place, power and social ties’. Journal of Refugee Studies 26(4): 495-504.
  • Gifford, S. & R. Wilding 2013, ‘Digital escapes? ICTs, settlement and belonging among Karen youth in Melbourne, Australia’. Journal of Refugee Studies 26(4): 558-75.
  • Wilding, R. 2012, ‘Mediating culture in transnational spaces: An example of young people from refugee backgrounds’, Continuum 26(3): 501-511.
  • Wilding, R 2009, 'Refugee Youth, Social Inclusion, and ICTs: can good intentions go bad?', Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society 7(2/3): 159-174.
  • Wilding, R and Baldassar, L 2009, 'Transnational Family - Work Balance: Experiences of Australian migrants caring for ageing parents and young children across distance and borders', Journal of Family Studies 15(2): 177-187.
  • Wilding, R 2008, ‘Introducing Anthropology: A Review Article’. Anthropological Forum 18(1): 71-78.
  • Wilding, R 2007, 'Transnational ethnographies and anthropological imaginings of migrancy', Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, special issue ‘Migrancy’, N. Harney & L. Baldassar (eds) 33(2), pp.331-48.
  • Wilding, R 2006, ‘"Virtual" intimacies? Families communicating across transnational contexts’, Global Networks: A Journal of Transnational Affairs 6(2): 125-142.
  • Wilding, R 2006, 'Locating editorials and advertising in wedding magazines', Media International Australia 119, pp.74-84.
  • Wilding, R 2003, 'Romantic love and "getting married": narratives of the wedding in and out of cinema texts', Journal of Sociology 39(4), pp.373-389.

Chapters in Books

  • Wilding, R & Gifford, S 2018 ‘Creating media, creating belonging: Young people from refugee backgrounds and the Home Lands project’. In D Nolan, K Farquharson & T Marjoribanks (eds) Australian Media and the Politics of Belonging, Anthem Press, London.
  • Malta, S & Wilding, R 2018 ‘Not so ubiquitous: Digital inclusion and older adults in Australia’. In M Ragnedda (ed.) Digital Inclusion: Be On the Right Side of the Digital Divide. Lexington Books.
  • Baldassar, L, Kilkey, M, Merla, L & Wilding, R 2018 ‘Transnational families in the era of global mobility’. In A. Triandafyllidou (ed) Handbook of Migration and Globalisation. Edward Elgar Publishing, Cheltenham, pp. 431-444.
  • Baldassar, L, Kilkey, M, Merla, L & Wilding, R 2016 ‘Transnational families, care and wellbeing’. In F. Thomas (ed) Handbook of Migration and Health, Edward Elgar: Cheltenham, pp. 477-497.
  • Baldassar, L. & R. Wilding 2014, ‘Middle-class transnational caregiving: The circulation of care between family and extended kin networks in the global north’. In L. Baldassar & L. Merla (eds) Transnational Families, Migration and the Circulation of Care: Understanding Mobility and Absence in Family Life. Pp. 235-51. Routledge, London.
  • Baldassar, L., M. Kilkey, L. Merla & R. Wilding 2014, ‘Transnational families’. In J. Treas, J. Scott & M. Richards (eds) The Wiley-Blackwell Companion to The Sociology of Families. Pp. 155-75. John Wiley & Sons, Chichester, West Sussex.
  • Wilding, R 2012, ‘Migrants’, in P. Beilharz & T. Hogan (eds) Sociology: Antipodean Perspectives, Oxford University Press, South Melbourne, pp. 438-42.
  • Wilding, R 2008, ‘Imagined futures: Irish-Australian migrants and their children’, in H. Lee (ed.) Ties to the Homelands: Second Generation Transnationalism, Cambridge Scholars Publishers, pp.33-52.
  • Baldassar, L, Wilding, R & Baldock, C 2007, 'Long-distance care-giving: Transnational families and the provision of aged care', in I. Paoletti (ed.) Family Caregiving for Older Disabled, Nova Publishers, pp.201-27.
  • Wilding, R & Tilbury, F 2004, 'Preface: Constructing A Changing People', in R. Wilding & F. Tilbury (eds) A Changing People: Diverse Contributions to the State of Western Australia, Department of Premier and Cabinet, WA and Office of Multicultural Interests, WA, Perth, pp.1-7.

Refereed Conference Papers

  • Wilding, R 2008, 'Global ageing and transnationalism: Reflections on research prospects'. Re-imagining Sociology: Refereed Proceedings of The Australian Sociological Association Annual Conference, 2-5 December 2008, University of Melbourne.
  • Wilding, R 2007, ‘The invisible costs of skill: Migrant nurses and personal care responsibilities’. Paper presented at the 12th International Metropolis Conference, 8-12 October 2007, Melbourne Australia.
  • Wilding, R 2007, ‘Imagined futures: The case of second generation Irish-Australians’. Paper presented at the 12th International Metropolis Conference, 8-12 October 2007, Melbourne Australia.
  • Wilding, R 2006, 'Childhood obesity and media messages: Interpreting parental resistance to healthy eating guidelines', Sociology for a Mobile World: Refereed Proceedings of The Australian Sociological Association Annual Conference, 4-7 December 2006, Perth.
  • Wilding, R 2005, 'Shifting patterns of parental love? Supernanny and the search for democratic intimacy', in Community, Place, Change: Refereed Proceedings of The Australian Sociological Association Annual Conference, 5-8 December 2005, Hobart.
  • Wilding, R et al. 2004, 'Incorporating online learning into existing high contact first year units', in Seeking Educational Excellence: Refereed Proceedings of Annual Teaching and Learning Forum, 9-10 February, Perth.

Research projects

Ageing and New Media: A New Analysis of Older Australians’ Support Networks ARC DP160102552 with Loretta Baldassar (UWA)

Ageing and New Media is a 3-year project (2016-2018) that 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.


Home Lands: Displaced youth and the development of positive transnational identities in a supportive local context

ARC LP0989149 With Sandra Gifford, John Smithies, Vicky Guglielmo, Andrew Garton and Mary Danckert

Home Lands investigates strategies for promoting positive identity-making among refugee youth by connecting them with the diaspora via communication technologies. Groups of young people of refugee backgrounds take part in a series of workshops to produce audiovisual materials for exchange on the Internet. Interviews with both participants and facilitators in the workshop process are used to examine how the provision of opportunities for transnational communications impacts upon identity-formation, settlement and belonging in national and transnational contexts for youth who have experienced displacement. The findings have implications for settlement and community programs for refugee youth in Australia and elsewhere.