Prof. dr. ir. Alex Peine

Innovation and Sustainability

I am a Full Professor of Culture, Innovation and Communication at the Faculty of Humanities of the Open Universiteit. My research links two pertinent societal developments – (i) population ageing, including the challenges it allegedly poses for care and health systems, and (ii) technological change, including the push towards more interactive and “smarter” technologies. In simple terms, one could say I study what population ageing means for the way we organise and direct innovation, and, vice versa, how technology and innovation have come to shape how we age and how we imagine the future of health and care. This very intersection of ageing, health and care, on the one hand, and technological innovation, on the other, is a top priority for policy makers, industry and 3rd sector organisations worldwide.

My work has expanded the usual drive in this area to think of technologies as interventions with a unique line of research that thinks of ageing, care and health as being co-constituted with technology (Peine and Neven 2019, 2020). In other words, I research the social, infrastructural, cultural and material forces through which ageing, care, health and technology shape each other. To do so, I like to combine the theoretical depth of Science and Technology Studies (STS) with other, more activist and impact oriented disciplines like social gerontology or the sociology of health, to research human-technology encounters in the muddled realities of everyday practices across a wide range of socio-material worlds – including robotics design labs, user involvement in the development of personal health systems, the manufacturing of electrical bikes, early diagnostics of Alzheimer’s disease, DIY Gerontechnologies, everyday practices of smartphone uses or the Silver Economy discourse. I also frequently collaborate with partners in engineering, industry and policy to explore how fine-grained, qualitative insights can help improve responsible innovation and participatory practices.


My research is part of a new academic field and community of scholars — the Socio-gerontechnology Network — which I have co-founded and that is internationally recognised for its strong social sciences and humanities voice (SSH) in relation to pertinent societal challenges like population ageing, the alleged crisis of care systems, and the transformation towards digital health, and how they intersect with technology and innovation.


Check out our book if you are interested in what Socio-gerontechnology is all about:


And if you are interested in an even shorten summary of what Socio-gerontechnology is check out this short animation: