Date of Award

Fall 2012

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Health and Aging

Supervisor

James Gillett

Co-Supervisor

Lori Campbell

Language

English

Committee Member

Ellen Ryan

Abstract

Western democratic societies are currently experiencing an interesting convergence of trends: population aging and rapidly advancing technology. In our increasingly digital economy, it is important to be reflective on the effects of technological evolution in our institutions. Older adults have observed many changes as we have entered the information age. Their experience with this evolution has been documented in the literature in understanding the acceptance and use of information and communication technologies (ICT), most frequently the personal computer. This thesis contributes to and extends the existing interdisciplinary scholarship on older adults and technology, broadening the scope from that of the individual to the societal level. I examine how institutional changes in the public sphere, specifically technological advances in the financial system accompanying the digital economy, are perceived by older adults.

A mixed methods study was conducted composed of a forty item mailed out questionnaire and twelve in person interviews recruited through the McMaster SHARE group. The analysis of this work was conducted with an interpretivist ontology, understanding the co-creation of technology and society. Theoretically, the life course perspective was important in framing this work. Analysis revealed three major themes that have been described in the thesis in individual chapters: ideas of subjective age, risk and trust, and gender and intersectionality.

Consistently in this project, discussions of financial technologies blended with older adults’ perceptions of technology in a broader sense. This both evidenced the life course perspective and comments on the pervasive influence of technology in our society.

McMaster University Library