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Communication Across the Life Span


Jon F. Nussbaum

As we grow up and grow old, embrace new experiences, try new roles, and adopt new technologies, our senses of time, space, connection, and identity are fundamentally explored through communication. Why, how, with whom, and to what end humans communicate reflect and shape our ever-changing life span position. And while the «life span» can be conceived as a continuum, it is also one hinged by critical junctures and bound by cultural differences that can be better understood through communication.
The chapters in this collection, chosen from among the invited plenary speakers, top research papers, and ideas discussed in San Juan, explore the multiple ways communication affects, reflects, and directs our life transition. Capturing the richness and diversity of scholarship presented at the conference, chapters explore communication technologies that define a generation; communication and successful aging; stereotyping and family communication; sexual communication and physiological measurement; life span communication and the digital divide; and home-based care contexts across the world, among others.
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Chapter Nine: Aging, Media, and Communication


← 106 | 107 →CHAPTER NINE

Aging, Media, and Communication


This Chapter approaches the relationship among older adults, media, and communication in four steps. First, I will try to explain how the aging of society progressively represents a central topic in both the political and the scientific debate, in order to demonstrate the reason lying beyond the increased interest for this issue. Second, I will briefly analyze the main trends characterizing the relationship between older adults and ICT (Information and Communication Technologies), as an increasing number of researchers are devoted to this issue. My aim is to question the critical aspects they put forth, especially as far as the risk of simplification that the debate on the generational digital divide might feed is concerned. Third, I wish to present an analytic perspective apt to inform the research effort dealing with the topic “older adults” and communication, which is based on both the public discourse about older adults and addressed to them. This analysis will enable me to highlight on the one hand the negotiation and the social construction characterizing old age and, on the other, the role the institutional and commercial public discourses play in the definition of a model for contemporary older adults. Finally, I will focus on the discourses about media produced by aging individuals through media themselves, paying particular attention to the way they use and think about ICTs. My conclusion will question the compatibility between the model of...

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