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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

No senior left behind: Creating older adult computer users
by Harrod, Molly, Ph.D., Wayne State University, 2008, 236; 3303518
Abstract (Summary)

Within the past decade, a new field of research known as "gerotechnology" has emerged to study the use of technology among older adults. This ethnographic study specifically examines the creation of "successful" computer users within an older-adult oriented computer learning center. Practice theory (Bourdieu, 1977) frames this study in order to understand how this age-specific educational habitus comes to be created, maintained and supported and how older adults acquire cultural and symbolic capital within this "bounded" environment. Study aims included understanding what computers mean and represent to older adults (including the needs/motivations to adopt this specific technology); investigating how an older adult technologically-based habitus enculturates its members through a specific teaching approach; and documenting a series of educational roles associated with this teaching approach. Data collection in this year-long study involved participant-observation (N=60) and formal and informal interviews (N=24). Older adults' motivations for attending the computer center were documented along with the teaching approach and the social relationships enacted in the learning process. Analysis of how cultural and symbolic capital were or were not acquired as well as strategies for avoiding stigmatization were explored. A unique "coach role" was identified as being the true "peer teacher" in this setting. This role aided in the acquirement of capital for newly enculturated members.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Briller, Sherylyn
Commitee: Baker, Lynda, Brawn, David, Luborsky, Mark
School: Wayne State University
Department: Anthropology
School Location: United States -- Michigan
Source: DAI-A 69/03, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Cultural anthropology, Gerontology
Keywords: Computer users, Computers, Gerotechnology, Learning, Older adults, Seniors, Technology
Publication Number: 3303518
ISBN: 978-0-549-49955-8
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