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Using Actor-Network Theory to Understanding Virtual Community Networks of Older People Using the Internet

Victoria University
Publication Date
  • School Of Management And Information Systems
  • Centre For International Corporate Governance Research
  • 0806 Information Systems
  • Communication


Older people around the world are adopting the Internet at an increasing rate, and in the process are forming virtual community networks in a way that would not otherwise have been possible. Internet interactions by this group include e-mail, chat groups, community forums and discussion groups as well as the individual use of the Web for information purposes. Some of these virtual networks relate older people to other older people, while other networks span age groups as when, for instance, a grandmother communicates by e-mail with her grandchildren. But linking to the Internet is not always straightforward as family members, friends and the technology, along with other non-human actors, often intrude. This highlights the socio-technical nature of these networks and the need to investigate them in a way that allows this to be seen. To attempt an understanding of the formation and operation of virtual networks of older people, and the interactions involved, a socio-technical approach is required and this paper will attempt such an analysis based on research, in an Australian context, undertaken by the authors.

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