Vera Roos

Research Professor
Prof.Vera Roos

As a second generation social gerontologist in the African context, my research focuses on older individuals and their relationships with people and space (place). Relationships are viewed from an interactional approach, as continuous reciprocal actions and reactions elicited by the subjective impact of the interaction. Two interrelated themes in social gerontology, social exclusion and inclusion, inform my research. Exclusion is explored in four domains (i) interpersonal (loneliness); (ii) community (sense of community); (iii) intergenerational; and (iv) cell phone technology. Inclusion focuses on two parts (i) effective relational interactions and (ii) intergenerational initiatives. Research on older (South) Africans is limited in scope, contextual depth and quantity. This prompted me to develop a visual data-collection tool, the Mmogo-method®, trademarked by the North-West University. “Mmogo" means togetherness in Setswana, one of the 11 official languages of South Africa. It is a relationally-sensitive method that enables inclusive research participation and yielding thick, detailed and layered visual, textual and observational data. The method has attracted international and national attention, its transferability demonstrated across countries, subject disciplines and sample groups. In the applications of the Mmogo-method® on older persons’ relational experiences, the findings obtained from the data could not be explained satisfactory by existing relational theories. Accordingly, I have developed a relational theory, Self-Interactional Group Theory (SIGT), which has been applied in several articles. A baseline study funded by the Department of Public Service and Administration, informed the development and implementation of Yabelana (“sharing information”), an age-inclusive eDirectory. The ICT ecosystem (, designed as a reusable open-source application ecosystem comprising a website, is suitable for older (USSD code) phones and smart phones (Google app store and website). The systematic, co-created process will be presented in an upcoming Springer Nature book

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