Researchers in communication studies have critically examined the push towards e-governance and its differential impacts on sectors of the population (Clement and Shade, 2007; Eubanks, 2018). In this paper, we examine recent attempts by the Canadian federal government to regulate the telecommunications industry and its deployment of online platforms to solicit public participation to inform policy-making. We argue that in the current conjuncture (Slack, 1996) these attempts at inclusion by digital means-only render absent the experiences of those older (Canadian) adults who are most in need of regulatory policies that promote accessibility, affordability and fairness in a digital world. Indeed, in a society such as ours where access to the digital world is unevenly distributed along the lines of age, education, literacy and income, consultations conducted online tend to over-represent those older adults who are socially and digitally-included (Sawchuk & Lafontaine, Forthcoming). In this paper, we discuss how community-based research practices have taught us that “age” is not simply as sociological variable, but how age and aging, conceived of intersectionally, may act as a critical standpoints (Harding, 1986, 2004; Haraway, 1988) to interrogate the techno-optimistic promises of governments. We underscore the role that researchers can play in developing complementary, alternative methodological approaches to involve older citizens in media policy-making to create social change in networked societies (Castells, 2001). In our present context, taking aging into account challenges discourses that assume that online consultations are ipso facto effective means to include the public in defining public policy.
Intersectionality, Public policy, Public consultations, Digital inclusion, Media policy, Canada
Public Policy and Public Perspectives on Aging
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session
Associate Director, ACT, Communication Studies, Concordia University