IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Older People, Mobile Communication and Risks


  • Loredana Ivan

    () (Communication Department, National University of Political Studies and Public Administration (SNSPA), Bucharest 012104, Romania)

  • Mireia Fernández-Ardèvol

    () (Interdisciplinary Internet Institute (IN3); Open University of Catalonia, Barcelona 08018, Spain)


Starting from Beck’s concept of reflexivity, the paper investigates differences in risk perception regarding wireless technologies expressed by older people living in Romania and Catalonia (Spain). We combine evidence from conversations held with older individuals in different research projects together with an ad-hoc media content analysis. Our research reveals that seniors’ discourses were consistent with the media prominence of different types of risks in each country. Results show that seniors’ discourses on health risks relate to the way the media discussed them, with Romanian participants, in contrast to older people from Catalonia, expressing no concerns about electromagnetic radiation. Also, Romanian seniors were more concerned about the risk to others—younger family members—whereas seniors in Catalonia were more concerned about their own risks. Seniors from Romania made more references to the country’s development. We discuss aging futures in societies with different risk perceptions. As the media presents the risks associated with digital technologies in differing lights, people’s perceptions are formed accordingly. Also, in countries where technology is perceived as good per se , the techno-optimistic discourse would be reinforced not only by the media but also by the groups exposed to the highest social pressure towards technology adoption—for example, seniors.

Suggested Citation

  • Loredana Ivan & Mireia Fernández-Ardèvol, 2017. "Older People, Mobile Communication and Risks," Societies, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 7(2), pages 1-16, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:gam:jsoctx:v:7:y:2017:i:2:p:7-:d:95863

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Ortwin Renn & Christina Benighaus, 2013. "Perception of technological risk: insights from research and lessons for risk communication and management," Journal of Risk Research, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 16(3-4), pages 293-313, April.
    2. Marie-Eve Cousin & Michael Siegrist, 2010. "Risk perception of mobile communication: a mental models approach," Journal of Risk Research, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 13(5), pages 599-620, July.
    3. Josep Espluga, 2005. "Precautionary local politics and coping with risks of radiofrequency fields in Spain," International Journal of Global Environmental Issues, Inderscience Enterprises Ltd, vol. 5(1/2), pages 68-77.
    4. Julie Barnett & Lada Timotijevic & Marco Vassallo & Richard Shepherd, 2008. "Precautionary advice about mobile phones: public understandings and intended responses," Journal of Risk Research, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 11(4), pages 525-540, June.
    5. Donkers, Bas & Melenberg, Bertrand & Van Soest, Arthur, 2001. "Estimating Risk Attitudes Using Lotteries: A Large Sample Approach," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 22(2), pages 165-195, March.
    6. Anna Olofsson & Susanna Öhman, 2007. "Views of Risk in Sweden: Global Fatalism and Local Control - An Empirical Investigation of Ulrich Beck's Theory of New Risks," Journal of Risk Research, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 10(2), pages 177-196, March.
    7. Bernd Kowall & Jürgen Breckenkamp & Maria Blettner & Brigitte Schlehofer & Joachim Schüz & Gabriele Berg-Beckhoff, 2012. "Determinants and stability over time of perception of health risks related to mobile phone base stations," International Journal of Public Health, Springer;Swiss School of Public Health (SSPH+), vol. 57(4), pages 735-743, August.
    8. Liesbeth Claassen & Ann Bostrom & Danielle R.M. Timmermans, 2016. "Focal points for improving communications about electromagnetic fields and health: a mental models approach," Journal of Risk Research, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 19(2), pages 246-269, February.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item


    risk perception; older people; technology risks; wireless technologies risks; mobile communication risks;

    JEL classification:

    • A13 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Relation of Economics to Social Values
    • A14 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Sociology of Economics
    • P - Economic Systems
    • P0 - Economic Systems - - General
    • P1 - Economic Systems - - Capitalist Systems
    • P2 - Economic Systems - - Socialist Systems and Transition Economies
    • P3 - Economic Systems - - Socialist Institutions and Their Transitions
    • P4 - Economic Systems - - Other Economic Systems
    • P5 - Economic Systems - - Comparative Economic Systems
    • Z1 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:gam:jsoctx:v:7:y:2017:i:2:p:7-:d:95863. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (XML Conversion Team). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.