elderly man's hands holding a mobile phone

Project: Alone but connected?

This international project aims to deepen the understanding of the intersections between digitalisation and intergenerational care relationships among elderly living alone, and to contribute to well founded policies in this area.

Project information

Project name
Alone but connected? Digital (in)equalities in care work and intergenerational relationships among older people living alone (EQualCare)
Project manager
Clary Krekula
Other project members
Marcus Andersson, Camilla Malm and Emme-Li Vingare, Linnaeus University
Participating organizations
Linnaeus University; Goethe University Frankfurt, Germany; Hanken School of Economics, Helsinki, Finland; University of Latvia, Riga, Latvia
More Years, Better Lives
10 juli 2021–30 april 2025
Social work (Department of Social Work, Faculty of Social Sciences)

More about the project

Digitalisation has brought about radical changes in the manifestations of proximity and distance between people, not least in social care relationships. While creating expectations of reciprocity and new forms of cooperation and relationships in care services, there is an obvious risk that digitalisation also creates new forms of inequalities between generations, income groups, and countries in terms of available care resources and infrastructures.

In this respect, the group of elderly people living alone is especially important to consider concerning issues of how digitalised care can be combined with physical care and young people's care responsibility. Digitalisation has facilitated contact with younger and older generations when geographically removed, which means that care may be conceived and understood in new ways.

The Covid-19 pandemic also meant that more elderly people became acquainted with using mobile technologies to maintain contact with family and friends. Further factors contributing to making the group of elderly important to consider are increased life expectancy, wish for autonomy, less acceptance of unsatisfactory family relationships, and the fact that anyone living alone must be able to perform a certain degree of self care.

The project contributes new knowledge about the relation between (self) care and the surrounding digitalised care networks of family members, friends, neighbours, acquaintances and various civil organisations. It aims to deepen the understanding of the intersections between digitalisation and intergenerational care relationships among elderly living alone, thus contributing to well founded policies in this area, as well as to counteract inequality. The project also particularly explores inequalities regarding gender, cultural and socio-economic backgrounds between and within countries. 

The project is an international partnership between four countries: Finland, Latvia, Sweden, and Germany. It is based on participatory action research (PAR) involving people aged 60+ as co-researchers in designing research questions and conducting and analysing interviews. The project also includes reviewing political documents and legislation on care responsibility and digitalisation in each country. Likewise, national and international databases (e.g. EU-SILC) are analysed and compared in terms of living conditions, incomes, health and care work for different age segments in the age group 60+. 

The project is part of the research in the Social work, disability and ageing (SODA) research group.