19629764.pdf - This full text version available on TeesRep is the final version of this PhD Thesis Kadi S(2013'Technology in everyday life an

19629764.pdf - This full text version available on TeesRep...

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Unformatted text preview: This full text version, available on TeesRep, is the final version of this PhD Thesis: Kadi, S. (2013) 'Technology in everyday life: an exploration of gender and age in internet use' Unpublished PhD Thesis; Teesside University This document was downloaded from All items in TeesRep are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated. TeesRep: Teesside University's Research Repository TECHNOLOGY IN EVERYDAY LIFE: AN EXPLORATION OF GENDER AND AGE IN INTERNET USE SELMA KADI A thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements of the University of Teesside for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy December 2012 ii Abstract This study combines perspectives from domestication theory, feminist technology studies and sociological research on ageing in order to understand older people’s internet use. The suggested approach enables us to examine the complexity of social inequalities in domestication processes. Firstly, I argue that domestication theory benefits from the integration of gender-technology relations, a perspective developed from within feminist technology studies. This allows a better understanding of different dimensions of gender (structure, symbolism, identity) as well as mutual shaping processes between gender and technology. Secondly, this analysis of gender-technology relations can also be utilised to enhance our understanding of age-technology relations. Gender and age are examined in relation to (i) different phases of domestication, (ii) the use of the internet for different activities and (iii) forms of social connectedness in everyday life. The research draws upon 33 semi-structured interviews with women and men between the ages of 55 and 80 about their internet and web 2.0 use experiences. My study demonstrates the diversity of intersections between age, gender and technology within older women’s and men’s internet use experiences, and highlights the significance of traditional age-gender-technology relations (which marginalise older women) for internet use. Furthermore, it identifies specific mechanisms found within domestication processes which serve to maintain these traditional relations. This thesis proposes a research perspective for studying age-gender-technology relations, and examines mutual shaping processes in the domestication of the internet. iii iv Acknowledgements I would like to thank my supervisors, Eileen Green, Carrie Singleton and Briony Oates, and during the first year also Mike Lockyer, for supporting me in the process of writing this Ph.D. I would also like to thank all the research participants who offered me their time and their personal stories. Finally, I would like to thank my family and friends whose friendship and care have been an awesome support during the last years. v vi Preface This research project started with my interest in internet, and specifically web 2.0, use. Previously, I had researched the use of mobile phones in families from a domestication perspective for my Master’s dissertation at the University of Vienna. I wanted to continue studying technology from a sociological perspective, and researching older people’s use of the internet allowed me to analyse the use of another technology in everyday life. My motivations for doing a Ph.D. were that I wanted to research something interesting, to learn how to write better, and to learn to speak and write better in English. Now I also often dream in English. My grandfather says that this is proof of having adopted a foreign language. And the answer to my grandmother’s frequent question is still – no, I haven’t forgotten how to speak German. I am thankful to my Director of Studies for teaching me how to write more effectively and to Teesside University’s English language tutors for teaching me to edit my texts. When I started this research project, I expected it to be a study within the domestication perspective rather than a suggestion for combining domestication theory with other approaches. Feminist theory and sociological analyses of gender were an area in which what I had studied previously, initially did not fit well with what I was doing here. This was possibly related to the fact that the department at which I had previously studied (one of two Sociology departments at the University of Vienna) was associated with the school of Humanities. It emphasised and passed on to its students (who had to learn both quantitative and qualitative methods) a strong belief in qualitative methodologies as being more suitable for our epistemological interests in sociology. I decided to study in this department because of my interest in language, qualitative research methods, and social theory, and possibly also my lack of interest in mathematics. I think that the existence of these two institutes probably also led to a particular analysis of gender at this department. Gender as structure was less important for our research interests compared to the approaches I learned in Teesside. The sociology department at which I studied for my previous degrees also advocated specific methods because of its focus on qualitative methodologies. Narrative interviews, in which the interviewer almost did not utter another word after the initial question, were considered to be a sign of particularly good data quality. Therefore, it took me many months of redrafted questionnaires to get myself to vii prompt interviewees in the semi-structured interviews in this study. In the beginning, writing possible prompts in addition to the questions into the interview guidelines, felt for me like ruining my efforts to achieve good quality in the data collection from the start. And it took a while until I could see the benefits of these prompts, they helped in getting interviewees to talk about specific aspects of domestication processes they would not otherwise share. One of the surprising experiences in moving from one country to another was the difference in terms of sociology. I had initially expected sociology to be something that would make moving here easier for me, since that is what I had been doing in Vienna, and what I would continue to do here. However, theoretically and methodologically, many things that were core parts of sociology in Vienna, here were hardly known to exist. Particular developments, such as system theory or objective hermeneutics, both very central at the department at which I used to study, are not core parts of sociology in the UK. Another key area of learning through this project, where I think I now have a different perspective which does not only refer to my own experiences, but is more sociologically grounded, is web 2.0. Partly, my interest in this research project had to do with my own enjoyment of web 2.0 and leisure-time use of it. Through this study, I think I am more aware of the diversity of experiences, as well as more able to critically examine my own experiences with different technologies. The main challenge of the research process was finding a perspective that could grasp the diversity of technology experiences. This was often a struggle, and I think that this is because of the way in which gender, age and technology are intertwined with so many parts of our everyday lives, and our personal lives. A critical exploration of gender, age and technology is also a critical exploration of gender and age identity as they are interlinked with technology. I can feel how this preface slowly starts to fill with different concepts from the study here, so I guess it is time to begin with the first chapter. viii Contents Chapter 1: Introduction .................................................................................................. 1 1.1. Studying technology from a social science perspective ............................................... 3 1.2. The social shaping and the domestication of technology............................................. 4 1.3. Information and communication technology in everyday life...................................... 6 1.4. The domestication of the internet ................................................................................ 7 1.5. Age and gender in domestication research on internet use ........................................ 9 1.6. Studying age-gender-technology relations ................................................................. 14 1.7. The structure of the thesis .......................................................................................... 17 Chapter 2: Methodology............................................................................................... 19 2.1. Studying internet use in everyday life ........................................................................ 19 2.2. Methods for analysing age and gender in domestication processes ......................... 20 2.2.1. Domestication research: technology as shaped in the context of use ................ 20 2.2.2. Feminist technology studies: gender-technology relations in domestication processes........................................................................................................................ 21 2.2.3. Ageing research: age and gender as intersecting in technology use ................... 22 2.2.4. Studying gender and age in older people’s internet use ..................................... 23 2.3. Study design ................................................................................................................ 24 2.3.1. Sampling strategy................................................................................................. 24 2.3.2. Pilot phase: face-to-face and email interviews .................................................... 26 2.3.3. Main research phase ............................................................................................ 27 2.3.3.1. Recruitment process ..................................................................................... 27 2.3.3.2. Methods for researching domestication (1): Semi-structured interviews ... 28 2.3.3.3. Methods for researching domestication (2): Video recordings .................... 30 2.3.3.4. Data analysis ................................................................................................. 34 2.4. Ethical considerations ................................................................................................. 35 2.5. Methodological reflection........................................................................................... 37 2.5.1. Sampling participants for a study on older people’s technology use .................. 38 2.5.2. Using email to collect data on domestication processes ..................................... 38 2.5.3. Including video data in research on domestication processes ............................ 39 2.6. Conclusion ................................................................................................................... 40 Chapter 3: Exploring internet use in older people’s everyday lives ................................. 41 3.1. Sociological perspectives on ageing............................................................................ 41 3.2. Everyday life: social inequalities and social relationships .......................................... 44 ix 3.2.1. Social class and older people’s internet use ........................................................ 44 3.2.2. Gender and older people’s everyday life ............................................................. 45 3.2.3. Household composition, social relationships and internet use ........................... 47 3.3. Researching older people’s computer and internet use ............................................ 50 3.3.1. Separating the technical and the social in gerontechnology ............................... 51 3.3.2. Internet access in the UK ..................................................................................... 53 3.3.2.1. Digital divide or digital inequalities............................................................... 55 3.3.3. Internet use, domestication and web 2.0 ............................................................ 57 3.4. Conclusion ................................................................................................................... 61 Chapter 4: Analysing gender-technology relations in internet and web 2.0 use .............. 62 4.1. Feminist theory and the study of gender and technology.......................................... 63 4.1.1. Gender-technology relations as an aspect of everyday life................................. 63 4.1.2. “Doing” and performing gender with technology ............................................... 65 4.1.3. Multidisciplinary feminist theory and the development of research perspectives for analysing technology ................................................................................................ 67 4.1.4. Specific perspectives: domestication theory, cyberfeminism and HCI ................ 70 4.2. The mutual shaping of gender and technology .......................................................... 72 4.2.1. The inclusion of atypical experiences in the study of gender-technology relations ....................................................................................................................................... 76 4.3. Intersectionality: analysing several social inequalities together ................................ 78 4.4. Studying gender in computer, internet and web 2.0 use ........................................... 81 4.4.1. Gender in computer and internet use ................................................................. 81 4.4.2. Specific aspects of internet technology: studying web 2.0 ................................. 83 4.4.2.1. Web 2.0 as online communication ............................................................... 85 4.4.2.2. Web 2.0 as user-generated online content .................................................. 87 4.4.2.3. Participation in web 2.0: spectators and implicit participation ................... 88 4.4.3. Gender and web 2.0 use ...................................................................................... 89 4.5. Conclusion ................................................................................................................... 91 Chapter 5: The domestication of the internet ................................................................ 93 5.1. Analysing gender and age in domestication processes .............................................. 94 5.2. The appropriation of the internet ............................................................................... 98 5.3. The objectification of the internet ............................................................................ 100 5.3.1. A room of its own............................................................................................... 102 5.3.2. Memories of past times ..................................................................................... 106 x 5.3.3. Computers outside the home ............................................................................ 107 5.4. The incorporation of the internet ............................................................................. 108 5.4.1. Structuring daily life through use of the internet .............................................. 109 5.4.2. Women, computer use and sleeping routines................................................... 111 5.4.3. Men and time-consuming use of the internet during the day .......................... 114 5.5. The conversion of internet use ................................................................................. 116 5.5.1. Using technology for ‘displaying family’ and self-presentation......................... 118 5.5.2. Technology use as an aspect of self-presentation ............................................. 121 5.5.3. Inappropriate uses of the internet and vulnerability ........................................ 122 5.6. Conclusion ................................................................................................................. 124 Chapter 6: Internet use and forms of social connectedness ......................................... 126 6.1. Internet use: integrating the internet into older people’s everyday lives................ 126 6.1.1. Internet use ....................................................................................................... 128 6.1.1.1. Email............................................................................................................ 128 6.1.1.2. Main internet use activities ........................................................................ 130 6.1.2. Web 2.0 use ....................................................................................................... 133 6.1.2.1. Social networking sites................................................................................ 134 6.1.2.2. Blogs ............................................................................................................ 136 6.1.2.3. Use of Youtube and Twitter ........................................................................ 138 6.1.2.4. Privacy in web 2.0 use ................................................................................. 139 6.2. Internet use and connectedness............................................................................... 142 6.2.1. Computer and internet use as connection to social networks .......................... 144 6.2.1.1. ”We have an expert who lives on the corner”: receiving support from others ....................................................................................................................... 144 6.2.1.2. “If you come and show me how to upload photographs”: supporting peers in their learning experiences ................................................................................... 145 6.2.1.3. “He lets me do it. I suppose I have to pay for it”: helping others ............... 146 6.2.2. Personal life and internet use ............................................................................ 148 6.2.2.1. “I've got family like you wouldn't believe”: older people using computers for genealogy ................................................................................................................. 148 6.2.2.2. “We are both fascinated by each other's life, because they are so different”: use of the internet in friendships............................................................................. 151 6.2.2.3. “We email each other all the time with news”: internet use beyond friends and family................................................................................................................. 153 6.2.3. Feelings of connectedness and the use of the internet by older people .......... 154 xi 6.3. Conclusion: gender and age in internet use activities and connectedness .............. 156 Chapter 7: Domesticating technologies in the context of traditional age-gendertechnology relations................................................................................................... 158 7.1. Age-technology relations .......................................................................................... 159 7.1.1. Structure, symbolic association and identity: age ............................................. 161 7.1.2. Different “areas” online? ................................................................................... 162 7.1.3. Mutual shaping of age and internet use: age as shaped by technology ........... 163 7.2. Resisting traditional age-gender-technology relations............................................. 164 7.3. Gender-technology relations .................................................................................... 165 7.3.1. Structure, symbolic association and identity: gender ....................................... 168 7.3.2. Mutual shaping...
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