Accepted Paper:

Ubiquitous intelligent city as narrated bodily experiences of ageing citizens  


Tiina Suopajärvi (University of Turku)

Paper short abstract:

The bodily experiences on the urban space of ageing citizens are discussed as part of the continuous power negotiations of public space; especially how the socio-material encounters in the ubiquitous city are entwined with individually lived ageing.

Paper long abstract:

Space is experienced through movements and by doing; and these bodily practices are entangled with their socio-cultural and temporal settings. Nevertheless, the movements and acts are not just performances in a certain place; instead they simultaneously re-structure and re-shape its social organization, including power relations. The northern Finnish city of Oulu is being designed as a prototype of an intelligent city which is full of new public technology expected to improve the everyday lives of all citizens. In my presentation, I will discuss how the ageing citizens (+65) narrate their bodily experiences on this changing urban space; how age, gender and space entangle in their narrations; and how new designs are contested by their mundane practices. I look at ageing as socio-discursive phenomena and as lived bodily experience which affects people's spatial practices, experiences, and socio-material relations.

These questions are analysed in the life story and walking interviews with ageing citizens. In these interviews they talk about their long-term and current micro-mobility in the public urban places; the impacts of portable and ubiquitous technologies on their mobility; and their bodily experiences while moving in the city. My interviewees emphasize that they are consciously striving for staying mobile, because their ageing bodies demand the exercise to keep on going. The public urban space must feel safe for them to utilize it; and though this would be technically possible it might not be considered politically important. Thus, I will also discuss how power negotiations are (re)enacted in the stories of ubiquitous Oulu.

Panel P29
Aging as a placed experience: the fluidity of different modes of relationships