Doctoral Dissertation

30.11.2018 M.Soc.Sc. Sanna Kuoppamäki (Facul­ty of Hu­ma­ni­ties and Social Sciences, Sociology)


30.11.2018 12:00 — 15:00

Location: Seminaarinmaki , S212
M.Soc.Sc. Sanna Kuoppamäki defends her doctoral dissertation in Sociology "The role of age and life course stage in digital consumption".

Opponent Senior Researcher PhD Mireia Fernández (Universitat Oberta de Catalunya) and Custos Professor Terhi-Anna Wilska (University of Jyväskylä). The doctoral dissertation is held in English.


Digital technologies are an inherent part of consumer environments today. This dissertation investigates older adults’ usage of digital technologies by focusing on the role of age and life course stage in digital consumption in Finland.

The dissertation applies theories of technology adoption and use, generations, and life course to examine older adults as digital consumers, the interrelationship between consumption and digital technologies and the effects of age and life course stage on digital consumption.

The study utilises both quantitative and qualitative data from five (5) data sets. The results reveal that between the years 1999 and 2014, older adults reported more ecological and less self-indulgent attitudes towards consumption than young adults. Between 2009 and 2014, these differences were best explained by life course factors, i.e. household type and other socio-demographic variables.

The results suggest that older adults are active online shoppers but less active users of mobile-based entertainment media. Online shopping is best explained by life course factors whereas entertainment media may be connected to generational preferences for certain types of media.

The results indicate that older adults discuss digital technologies in relation to personal skills, social relationships and security. Older adults utilise electricity company online services more frequently than young adults and report a lack of knowledge regarding online environments less frequently than young adults.

Considering digital participation in service environments the study acknowledges that, while the significance of chronological age in digital participation might be decreasing, the role of life course factors persist. As a main outcome of the study, the dissertation presents a comprehension of digital consumption across the life course that considers the role of chronological, generational and biographical age in digital consumption.

The study concludes that older adults are selective users of digital technologies, and digital skills, needs and digital interaction transform digital service environments. The dissertation proposes that a generational framework for digital consumption provides an insufficient explanation for digital consumption, and suggests that life stage factors, such as bodily, mental and biographical ageing, transform the individual’s tendency to consume digitally.