La ignorancia digital y la emancipación intelectual: las voces de los más mayores

Student thesis: Doctoral thesis


The oldest old are barely asked about what they think about Internet and computers that make up the 'digital world'. Not being duly considered in major surveys and research their perception remains quite unknown. This doctoral dissertation draws on ethnographic observations in an IT training for the oldest old in the context of a retirement home activity taking place in summer 2012. It draws also attention to ethnographic observations in the retirement home patterns of living and adding to that, a thematic decomposition was made of long open-ended interviews with 20 residents and 5 professionals providing care. In this doctoral dissertation that evolves as an essay I will introduce some of the results of my perception, analysis and interpretation. I say some because I understand there is quite a lot more that could be said. I tried to gather everything until I realised that "everything" was an impossible task and the framework of my own thesis became a Moebius strip. The reader will see a continuous-loop recording of all the events that I can recall or were important for me. I will ever come back to the starting point traversing the path to end in different insights. We all know there is a boundary in our own academic pursuit as post-graduate students. Notwithstanding, I will highlight that the oldest old in this retirement home perceived Internet and computers: 1) as a whole, what we called a wholeness attribute, 2) all-embracing, 3) omnipotent, 4) as an embodied transfer, and last, 5) as not a trustworthy source or medium. I could conclude that their perception of the Internet and computers is entangled with concerns about security and especially privacy related issues. I suggest that bearing in mind these aspects should help to understand what the Internet and computers mean for them, and therefore can lead to research of what digitization of society implies to all people, including those who don’t count. Throughout the whole description of the four months of ethnographic observations we can see how older people are claiming not to be old. Also, their perception of technologies is also entangled with their understanding of life and death, being autonomous or what constitutes the integration of all the parts that form a whole human being. Relations to society and to what we suppose to do or not do, leads to bodies enabled to do some things and disabled to do other ones. I’m taking my readings of Rancière further by applying the subject of equality and emancipation in this case. I agree with older people that they are active-upon-themselves in their own way. For instance, being updated in digital technologies could not simply be a matter of active ageing. The society the litrature and ourselves are caught in binary accounts and this are present in this doctoral dissertation. The oldest old in the retirement home are excluded by ageism and by the fact that they are living in a retirement home. Making room for their opinions brought to the surface questions that I did not expect and calculate beforehand. It was a surprise, and this is the core value of this thesis, they put into question the questions I thought were appropriate for a research in social sciences; they not only answered different and unexpectedly, they also brought new questions for us to answer.
Date of Award16 Nov 2017
Original languageSpanish
Awarding Institution
  • Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB)
SupervisorMiquel Domenech Argemi (Director)


  • Older people
  • New technologies
  • Emancipation

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