Ages2020. Age-Specific Issues. Language, Spaces, Technologies

Submitted by Kim Grego on Tue, 11/05/2019 - 16:09

Via Festa del Perdono, 7
20122 Milan MI

Following our Seniors2019 conference on ageing issues, we invite abstracts for papers on ‘Age-Specific Issues’, as seen in terms of language, space and technology. This conference stems from the inter-university research project Age.Vol.A. (Ageing, Volunteers, Assistants), funded by the Cariplo Foundation for the years 2018-2021, aimed at easing or removing the linguistic and cultural barriers existing between home-assisted Italian seniors and their non-Italian caregivers – a widespread social phenomenon in Italy – through multilingual digital tools and applications. The Age.Vol.A. perspective is multi-disciplinary, and the project is run by a team of scholars in English linguistics, translation studies, social sciences like anthropology, and science communication.

This inter-university (University of Insubria and University of Milan, Italy) initiative, with its multi-disciplinary approach and eclectic research team, focuses on seniors or ‘older adults’ and language and communication issues, but it would like to open this year’s conference to inputs about other age groups and from any other perspectives that pay close attention to the linguistic, social, economic and ethical aspects of (weaker) social groups defined in terms of age. This would allow us to compare different age-related communication strategies and share knowledge about them. Indeed, while globalisation phenomena and portable technology seem to be levelling out the world’s population in a sort of democratising effect, we are concurrently witnessing trends of social re-grouping according to variously defined criteria, from nationalisms to localisms, from groups of interest supporting or protesting specific causes (e.g. ecology and vaccines), to even smaller groups based on common interests and objectives among the most disparate (Anderson-Levitt 2003, Appadurai 1996 and 2006, Flesher-Fominaya 2014).

Age groups are one such significant phenomenon, not only at the social level but also, for example, in terms of business, with specific products and services increasingly tailored to reach smaller and more specific ages (Yoon 1997, Yates / Patalano 1999, Lambert-Pandraud / Laurent 2010, Dobbs / Remes / Woetzel 2017, Vicentini 2017, Arensberg 2018). Linguistically, sociolinguists have been addressing this theme for decades now, with its approach drawing upon social constructivist tradition, which highlights the importance of language in understanding society and social categories, hence promoting the study of language attitudes, beliefs, and reactions about the use of language (on seniors, see, e.g., Coupland / Jaworski 1997: 70-72), which are related to the theme of identity (Fairclough 1995, Irwin 2010: 100) and migration (Beacco et al. 2017, Britain / Trudgill 1999, Extra / Verhoeven 2011). Proposals with a multidisciplinary focus will be especially welcome.


Anderson-Levitt, Katrhyne 2003. Local Meanings, Global Schooling: Anthropology and World Culture Theory. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

Appadurai, Arjun 1996. Modernity at large: Cultural Dimensions of Globalization. Minneapolis (MN): Minnesota University Press.

Appadurai, Arjun 2006. Fear of Small Numbers: An Essay on the Geography of Anger. Durham (NC): Duke University Press.

Arensberg, Mary Beth 2018. Population aging: opportunity for business expansion, Journal of Health Population and Nutrition, 37: 7.

Beacco, Jean-Claude / Krumm, Hans-Jürgen / Little, David / Thalgott, Philia 2017. The Linguistic Integration of Adult Migrants. Berlin/New York: Mouton de Gruyter

Britain, David / Trudgill, Peter 1999. “Migration, new-dialect formation and sociolinguistic refunctionalisation: reallocation as an outcome of dialect contact”, Transactions of the Philological Society 97, 245-256.

Coupland, Nikolas / Jaworski, Adam 1997. Methods for Studying Language in Society. In Coupland, Nikolas / Jaworski, Adam (eds) Sociolinguistics: a Reader and Coursebook. New York (NY): Palgrave.

Dobbs, R. / Remes, J. / Woetzel, J. 2017. Emerging demographics are the new emerging markets. Harvard Business Review. 2016.

Extra, Guus / Verhoeven, Ludo 2011. Bilingualism and migration, Berlin/New York: Mouton de Gruyter.

Fairclough, Norman 1995. Critical Discourse Analysis: The Critical Study of Language. London: Longman.

Flesher-Fominaya, Cristina 2014. Social Movements and Globalization: How Protests, Occupations and Uprisings are Changing the World. London: Red Grove Press.

Irwin, Anthea 2010. Social Constructionism. In Wodak, Ruth / Johnstone, Barbara / Kerswill, Peter (eds) The Sage Handbook of Sociolinguistics. London: Sage.

Lambert-Pandraud, R. / Laurent, G. 2010. Impact of age on brand choice. In: Drolet A, Schwarz N, Yoon C, editors. The aging consumer: perspectives from psychology and economics. London: Taylor and Francis, pp. 191–208.

Vicentini A. (2017) Child-free tourism discourse between social changes and ethical concerns. In Maci, S., Sala, M. (eds) Ways of Seeing, Ways of Being: Representing the Voices of Tourism. Bern: Peter Lang.

Yates J. / Patalano, A. 1999. Decision making and aging. In: Park DC, Morrell RW, Shifren K, editors. Processing of medical information in aging patients: cognitive and human factors perspectives. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Publishers, pp. 31–54.

Yoon, C. 1997. Age differences in consumers’ processing strategies: an investigation of moderating influences. Journal of Consumer Research. 24: 329–342.

Scientific committee

Michael Brannigan (Center for Biomedical Ethics Education and Research, Alden March Bioethics Institute, Albany Medical College, Albany, New York), Paola Catenaccio (University of Milan, Italy), Boyd Davis (University of North Carolina at Charlotte, US), Kim Grego (University of Milan, Italy), Federico Pasquaré Mariotto (University of Insubria, Italy), Federico Pizzetti (University of Milan, Italy), Alessandra Vicentini (University of Insubria, Italy)

Organising committee

Kim Grego, Giorgia Riboni (University of Milan, Italy)
Alessandra Vicentini, Daniel Russo, Daniele Grechi, Giulia Rovelli (University of Insubria, Italy)
Università degli Studi di Milano / Università degli Studi dell'Insubria Varese
Contact person
Kim Grego
Contact person email address