Deconstructing Digital Precarity for Older Workers: An Intersectional Perspective

Conference: The European Conference on Aging & Gerontology (EGen2022)
Title: Deconstructing Digital Precarity for Older Workers: An Intersectional Perspective
Stream: Resilience
Presentation Type: Oral Presentation
Sajia Ferdous, Queen's University Belfast, United Kingdom


Against the backdrops of dual threats of automation and ageing, this paper draws on existing theories and evidence to build a conceptual framework for understanding the disproportionate impacts automation may have on ethnic minority older workers in the UK. There is a dearth of inclusive conceptual tools in the existing literature that can anatomise the nuances of these groups' 'digital precarity', especially within the contexts of extended working lives. The proposed digital inclusion framework takes an intersectional life-course approach to the conceptualisation, so that ethnic minority older groups' life-long trajectories across borders may be scrutinised and particularities of their 'ageing in place' can be studied. It adopts a three-pronged approach illustrating the relationship between precarity indicators (e.g., socio-economic backgrounds​, lifestyle choices,​ gendered culture)​, trigger factors for digital exclusion (e.g., skills management system, ageist attitudes in workplaces, gendered exploitation in HR practices such as glass walls/ceilings) and homogeneity bias (e.g., gender, age or race/ethnicity stereotyping) to help understand what shapes the groups’ tech- literacy/tolerance level, recognise in-group heterogeneity and design industry/task/organisation specific transitional (tech-ageing) shock absorbing HR strategies/systems for employers. The paper contributes to the ageing workforce, intersectionality and life-course literature and the framework has the potential to be a guiding tool for employers and policymakers alike in drawing up inclusive and sustainable labour market policies for older workers as they extend their working lives.

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