Migration, Ageing and Digital Kinning: The role of distant care support networks in experiences of ageing well
11 June 2019, 12.00 PM – 11 June 2019, 1.00 PM
Prof. Loretta Baldassar
Room 4.05/06, School of Education, 35 Berkeley Square, Bristol, BS8 1JA
This event is part of the School of Education’s ‘Bristol Conversations in Education’ seminar series. It is presented in conjunction with the Faculty Ageing and the Lifecourse group. These seminars are free and open to the public.
Speaker: Prof. Loretta Baldassar
High rates of migration contribute to the dispersal of support networks across distance and national borders. For older people reliant on informal care for social support, this creates a high risk of increased social isolation. In this paper, we examine the importance of distant support networks maintained with communication technologies, through a process of ‘digital kinning’. We draw on data from a qualitative research project conducted in Australia (2016-19) with over 100 older migrants (55+) born in eight countries comprising ethnographic interviews recording participants’ histories of migration, experiences of ageing, care and support networks and uses of technology and network maps comparing experiences and practices of proximate and distant support networks. Results show that older migrants in Australia overcome significant obstacles to maintain their informal support networks across distance through practices of ‘digital kinning’. The geographically distant social networks they maintain are essential sources of social connection and support, cultural identity, and protection of social identity. Although essential to the wellbeing of older migrants, distant support networks and the digital kinning practices that sustain them receive little attention from policy makers and health practitioners. We argue that organisations concerned with care of older people must improve awareness of distant support networks and support digital kinning practices. This could range from including distant kin in healthcare plans to prioritising digital inclusion initiatives.