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This article has been published in: Ocula 25, Gender, genres and generations. A sociological analysis on changes of consumption styles in the globalised world: current scenarios and future perspectives
authors: Jillet Sarah Sam (Humanities and Social Sciences, Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur, IND), Piergiorgio Degli Esposti (Sociologia e Diritto dell’Economia, Università di Bologna, Bologna, IT ) and Brian Gomes (Humanities and Social Sciences, Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur, IND)
The elderly collaborative user in platform societies. A comparative study between India and Italy
language: englishpublication date: June 2021
abstract: In this paper, we examine the figure of the elderly prosumers as they are located in the emerging platform societies of India and Italy. Recently, sociological literature has observed the growing significance given to the elderly as active consumers in consumer society in India and in Italy. In contrast, at present we do not know much about the practices of the elderly as prosumers, particularly in urban areas.
While discussions of the sharing economy envision a particular type of collaborative consumption, they are still working with the assumption that the fundamental unit is an individual with dedicated and autonomous access to platforms and devices. This assumption, however, is in stark contrast to the multiple empirical incidences where technology is used in a shared manner. Such shared use has been extensively documented in non-Western contexts, although the gerontological literature also indicates that similar practices (such as ‘proxy use’) have also been documented in Western countries. Shared use may be especially pertinent to older users who rely on it to either learn anew or to navigate technology due to their health or cultural preferences.
Consequently, this paper proposes the concept of collaborative use to understand the varied manner in which devices and platforms are shared in platform economies. The paper draws on ethnographic data to understand how the elderly use platforms in one non-Western city (Kolkata, India) and one Western city (Bologna, Italy). The paper found that the elderly in both cities actively engaged in platforms through collaborative use practices such as use on behalf and use of shared accounts. In the Indian case, such collaborative use also occurred through the shared use of devices and the interlinking of platforms. Based on the extent and variety of collaborative use documented, this paper argues that this type of use should be considered as a precursor and also as an important contemporary aspect of the sharing economy. The survey and the data are also part of the broader project Evolution of consumer behavior. The impact of digitalization and cryptocurrency upon consumption practices, a comparative study between Italy and India digital, between the Department of Sociology and Business Law University of Bologna - Italy and Department of Humanities and Social Sciences Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur - India, with the main objective to observe the approach to the digitisation processes of consumption and forms of payment of different generational cohorts analysed on the basis of socio-demographic and gender variables, through a comparative analysis of two local contexts.
citation information: Jillet Sarah Sam, Piergiorgio Degli Esposti and Brian Gomes, The elderly collaborative user in platform societies. A comparative study between India and Italy, "Ocula", vol.22, n.25, pp.145-175, June 2021.