ZeMKI Research Seminar with Prof Dr Helen Manchester (University of Bristol, UK)

"Co-designing Sociodigital Ageing Futures", december 14 2022, 16:15 - 17:45 (CET), Linzer Str. 4, room 60.070, 28359 Bremen

Technological innovation is seen as central to our societal responses to ageing populations but the idea that ‘technology will save us’ fails to understand the rich and diverse lives led by older people and does not take account of structural inequalities. In response to this, scholars have suggested the importance of seeing futures as ‘in the making’ and begun to explore how practices of co-design, involving older adults and practitioners alongside technologists and others, may provide opportunities to intervene and reconfigure digital innovation for future ageing societies. This paper draws on data from the ‘Connecting through Culture as we Age’ project which explores how participation in all forms of arts and culture, particularly those accessed digitally, can influence wellbeing and feelings of social connection as we age. We are working with 20 co-researchers aged 60-75 who are either disabled, socioeconomically or racially minoritised. The co-researchers were invited into an inclusive digital innovation process that aimed to put their voices, lived experiences and expertise at the heart of the design process. Drawing on data from this project, I will explore the characteristics of co-design processes that might support more inclusive technological innovation for fairer ageing societies. In my talk, I will draw particular attention to the power relations that shape negotiations over the future and ask to what extent co-designing ageing futures might build imaginaries of ageing that challenge mainstream assumptions about socially marginalised older adults and build more responsible technological innovations.

Helen Manchester is Professor of Participatory Sociodigital Futures at the University of Bristol. Helen is interested in participation, sociodigital futures, ageing, co-design, social connectivity, culture and the arts. She develops methodologically innovative approaches to research in collaboration with artists, technologists, civil society organisations and policy-makers. Helen currently leads the ‘Connecting through Culture as we Age: Digital Innovation for Healthy Ageing’ project and is Co-I on the ESRC Sociodigital Futures Centre. She has previously led a number of co-designed research projects working with digital technologies, material culture, arts and older people, including Tangible Memories: Community in care, Parlours of Wonder and Productive Margins: Isolation and loneliness of older people. Her academic outputs include technological artefacts, exhibitions, social action groups and performances. She co-edited a special issue of the International Journal of Aging and Later Life (2022) entitled, ‘Ageing with digital technologies: from theory to agency and practice’ and has published numerous articles and chapters in the fields of education, socio- gerontechnology and collaborative research.

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