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Individuals and inequality

By Daniel Miller, on 14 June 2021

I am currently writing a second book about Cuan, my fieldsite in Ireland. This will allow me to spend much more time presenting evidence for inequality, focusing on an area of social housing located in the middle of Cuan, that remains quite apart from most of this quite affluent middle-class town. Detailed study, however, reveals many nuances to any simple or dualistic presentation that just opposes these different segments of the same town. The overall rise in income and possibilities in Irish society over the last 50 years have impacted upon most of the population, though not all. Bob would never have expected to be able to live outside of social housing, having worked first as a butcher’s assistant and retired finally as a school caretaker, low paid work that precludes the ability to purchase a property. Yet in retirement, he found his true vocation as a poet and today is as comfortable at the opera as he in the betting shop.

The term class is quite a crude categorisation. I would argue that Ireland has a much stronger egalitarian ideology than here in England, laid across still evident inequalities. Many of the oral histories of individuals I recorded talk of the extreme poverty of their origins but alongside the love of literature and the arts. I didn’t feel that this film represented class mobility or a change in class identity, or even that actually Bob sees things in such terms. It seemed there was both something Irish about Bob and also much that was simply individual. This is an additional point. Bob doesn’t have to be typical of anything or anyone, but for the anthropologist, it is hugely important to acknowledge that he exists and that abstract discussions of class and inequality need to balanced by meeting people as individuals, in this case as Bob.

The film is included in the recent book I wrote with Pauline Garvey, Ageing with Smartphones in Ireland.

Una adulta mayor frente a la hiperdigitalización: empezar de cero a los 80 años

By Alfonso Otaegui, on 7 June 2021

“¡Fue como empezar de cero..! A Valeria no le fue sencillo aprender a usar el smartphone, que su familia le había impuesto para poder comunicarse con ella a toda hora. Le costó, sobre todo, luchar con la sensación de sentirse otra vez una novata, después de toda una vida como profesional.

Como en muchos otros países, los adultos mayores en Chile se encuentran en la intersección de dos tendencias globales: el envejecimiento de la población y la digitalización de servicios. Para muchos adultos mayores, el smartphone ha sido una imposición por parte de políticas públicas de gobierno digital, la crisis del COVID-19 o sus propias familias, entre otros factores. Dentro de poco, saber usar este dispositivo será una condición indispensable para la vida cotidiana como ciudadanos.

En este video Valeria cuenta cómo aprendió a usar el smartphone a la edad de 80 años.  En cierto modo Valeria también nos está diciendo algo sobre de su experiencia de la edad. Nuestro libro, El smartphone global. Más allá de una tecnología para jóvenes, dedica todo un capítulo a la relación entre envejecimiento y smartphones, en el cual se inserta este video. La versión en inglés puede descargarse aquí en forma gratuita. El Centro de Estudios Interculturales e Indígenas (UC Chile) está realizando la traducción al castellano que será publicada en noviembre de este año.