Technology, older persons’ perspectives and the anthropological ethnographic lens

Bailey, Cathy and Sheehan, Cormac (2009) Technology, older persons’ perspectives and the anthropological ethnographic lens. ALTER - European Journal of Disability Research, 3 (2). pp. 96-109. ISSN 1875-0672

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This paper shares ‘user perspective’ insights from the ethnography component of an ongoing Irish interdisciplinary study, Technology Research for Independent Living (TRIL).2 The research is informed by a shared pool of knowledge, medical and research expertise, engineering resources, design and ethnography and is exploring new technologies that may support older people to live independently in their own homes, even if dealing with age-related illness or injury. To provide theoretical context, we position both our understanding of user perspective and our anthropological ethnographic method of enquiry. We draw on early case study material to illustrate older persons’ understanding and experiences of existing technologies from a life course perspective. We then offer an example from our ongoing ethnographic enquiry, focusing on participants’ experiences of new technology. We consider technology as social and discuss ‘having the know-how’; ‘user-led technology’ and ‘enabling/disabling new technologies’. A critical goal of the research is to achieve user perspective technological design. We argue that it's important to be clear about what is meant by ‘user perspective’ and how such user perspective is obtained; in our case, through our anthropological ethnographic lens on older persons and their ongoing relationships with existing and new technologies.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: user perspective, older adults, technologies for independent living
Subjects: L500 Social Work
Department: Faculties > Health and Life Sciences > Social Work, Education and Community Wellbeing
Depositing User: EPrint Services
Date Deposited: 06 Aug 2010 10:02
Last Modified: 12 Oct 2019 14:40

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