Published on 15 Jun 2022

Faculty Interview by Graduate Student: Interview with Prof Shannon Ang

Interview No. 6 - by SSS Graduate Student Club

1. Can you describe your role at NTU?
I study older people, and teach younger people. More formally, I am Assistant Professor of Sociology at the School of Social Sciences. I teach a range of courses related to ageing and health.

2. Can you describe your academic journey leading to NTU?
As an undergraduate, I studied Sociology at the National University of Singapore. Under serendipitous circumstances and with the guidance of a few nurturing mentors, I found myself quickly drawn to ageing research. After dabbling in it for a while, taking the next step seemed good to me. So I took up NTU’s HASS International PhD Scholarship (HIPS) to train at the University of Michigan, where I obtained my PhD in Sociology and MA in Statistics.

3. What is your motivation for joining NTU?
Sociology at NTU is relatively young – this means there is a lot of potential for growth and positive change.

4. Can you describe your current research?
I look at how social relationships shape the health and well-being of older adults. This includes everything from learning about the friendships that older adults have with one another in the neighborhood, finding out whether the kind of support they receive from their family is helpful, whether the isolation they perceive can be alleviated through social media, and more.

5. What is currently the hot topic in your research field?
You see it everywhere in the media. Everyone wants a “solution” to the ageing population, whatever that means. The promise of technology seems limitless. Some think they can improve care by placing more and more sensors in older people’s homes, others think gamifying exercise for older adults will make them healthy, and yet others are finding ways to have them work longer. I don’t think my role as a sociologist is to hanker after every new shiny thing, but to constantly ask questions like – whose interests do certain technologies serve? Who wins and who loses from these new developments? What do they even mean to older adults themselves? These questions tend not to be “hot” because they can offend certain interests.

6. What do you enjoy doing beyond your research?
I like to eat.

Selected publications

[1] Ang, Shannon. Forthcoming. “Changing relationships between social contact, social support and depressive symptoms during the COVID-19 pandemic”. Journals of Gerontology Series B: Psychological and Social Sciences. doi: 10.1093/geronb/gbac063

[2] Ang, Shannon, and Rahul Malhotra. Forthcoming. “The filial piety paradox: Receiving social support from children can be negatively associated with quality of life”. Social Science and Medicine. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2022.114996

[3] Ang, Shannon. 2021. “Your friends, my friends, and our family: Informal social participation and mental health through the lens of linked lives”. Social Science and Medicine. 276:113848.  doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2021.113848

[4] Ang, Shannon, Emily Lim, and Rahul Malhotra. 2021. “Health-related difficulty in internet use among older adults: Correlates and mediation of its association with quality of life through social support networks.” The Gerontologist. 61(5): 693-702.  doi: 10.1093/geront/gnaa096