Ageing with Smartphones in Urban Brazil
A Work in Progess
University College London, 2022
An exploration of technology’s role in the day-to-day life of aging urban Brazilians.
With people living longer all over the world, aging has begun to be framed as a socioeconomic problem. In Brazil, older people are expected to remain healthy and autonomous while actively participating in society. Based on ethnographic research in São Paulo, this book shows how older people in a middle-class neighborhood try to reconcile these expectations with the freedom and pleasures reserved for old age by using smartphones. Smartphones have become of great importance to the residents as they search for and engage in new forms of work and hobbies. Connected by a digital network, they work as content curators, sharing activities that fill their schedules. Managing multiple WhatsApp groups is a job in itself, as well as a source of solidarity and hope. Friendship groups help each to download new apps, search for medical information and guidance, and navigate the city. Together, the author shows, older people are reinventing themselves as volunteers, entrepreneurs, and influencers, or they are finding a new interest that gives their later life a purpose. The smartphone, which enables the residents to share and discuss their busy lives, is also helping them, and us, to rethink aging.