Sourbati, M. (2009) ‘“It could be useful but not for me at the moment”. Older people, internet access, and public service provision.’ New Media and Society, 11(7):1083-1100
Sourbati, M (2012) ‘Disabling communications? A capabilities perspective on media access, social inclusion and communication policy’ Media, Culture and Society, 34(5): 571-587.
Sourbati, M. (2010) ‘Non Users in the Information Society. Learning from the older generation’, pp. 107-118, in Gebhardt, J, Greif, H, Raycheva, L, Lobet-Maris, C and Lasen, A (eds) Experiencing the Broadband Society. Berlin: Peter Lang.
Sourbati, M (2008) ‘On older people, Internet access and electronic service delivery. A study of sheltered homes’ in Enid Mante-Meijer, E, Haddon, L and Loos, E (eds) The Social Dynamics of Information and Communication Technology, pp. 95-104 Ashgate.
The research findings and ideas discussed in these articles and book chapters have their origins in innovative research that I have undertaken in 2002-03. These contributions deal with some much under-addressed issues in media and communications research: older age, disability and disabled access to digital media technologies. The strengths of these studies lie in their interdisciplinary approach, their analytic framing and their innovative focus on public policy development. While connecting to wider media and communications research on media and social exclusion, specifically the work on the so-called ‘digital divide’, my studies contribute original thinking in two significant senses: Firstly, in their theoretical framing of exclusion and disablement as both symptoms and consequences of non-access to information and communicative resources. This framing provides a point from which to critique existing policy and interventions, leading to a second contribution, namely their engagement with the increasingly interrelated areas of media, communications and social policy.
Empirically and conceptually, these studies are especially relevant at these times. Amid current trends in the informational economy and neoliberal politics, digital media and communication technologies have taken centre stage in public policy making as the means to implement reforms in welfare, support market-led growth and achieve inclusion. Their significance stretches beyond the UK context which they take as their case study, to include wider issues of e-government, e-democracy and structured inequality. The significance and politics of age(ing), technological innovation, use practices, (dis)ability and exclusion permeate disciplinary boundaries, aligning media studies, communication, and information studies. Our relationships with digital media technologies do matter as these ICTs intensively infiltrate every facet of society, including aspects which impact on our ability to obtain and store information vital to daily life, to maintain our social networks, and to access and purchase public services including care and education. Given demographic, technological and policy trends issues surrounding the accessibility of digital ICT-based systems to older people and disabled people are anything but transient. Digital ICTs have been identified by national as well as across the European Union and in North America as having an increasingly important role in the delivery of public services for they seem to promise cost efficiencies and social inclusion. At the same the desired shift to the digital delivery of public services and broader trends in digitalisation and informationalisation can be seen to compound patterns of structured inequality in media access giving rise to new dynamics of disablement and social exclusion.
My current research investigates the media capabilities of socially and digitally disadvantaged groups, and whether they are prepared for a sociological shift of in the delivery of media and public services against dominant-ideological policy conceptualisations of digital ICTs.