Welfare technologies and surveillance in care work for elderly citizens

Publikation: KonferencebidragPaperForskningpeer review


Encompassing technologies elsewhere categorized as ambient assisted living technologies and telecare technologies, the politically vested concept of ‘welfare technologies’ has gained currency in the Scandinavian welfare states over the last decade. Welfare technologies are increasingly used in a variety of settings in Denmark (Mortensen, 2015), where they are envisioned as leading to a new and smarter form of welfare state service delivery, promising increased efficiency, better quality, and citizen empowerment. Based on two ethnographic field studies we discuss how selected welfare technologies facilitate care and surveillance of citizens in different manners and with different consequences for care relationships between citizens and eldercare professionals. We focus on a technology facilitating ‘virtual homecare visits’ in a municipal homecare
service, as well as ‘intelligent floors’ in an eldercare center. Virtual home care entails the performance of specific home care services by means of video conversations rather than physical visits in citizens’ homes (e.g. reminding citizens to take their pills). The eldercare center’s intelligent floors are equipped with
sensors, which communicate the movements of residents to staff members through notifications on their smartphones (e.g. has a resident fallen down, or left his/her apartment). In line with other scholars (e.g. Oudshorn, 2009; Pols, 2010) we focus on how technologies, rather than simply replacing a human function or
neutrally facilitate communication and information, transform care work and care relationships, and depart in a discussion of surveillance as not in opposition to, but intertwined with and preconditioning care. Our study shows that care relations are changing in different ways in relation to the use of the studied surveillance technologies in association with the functionality and use of the technology in relation to local and national discourses and practices. In our cases the respective visibility and invisibility of surveillance as well as the extent of surveillance facilitated with the technologies, come to have great impact on the care relationships developed, but in quite different ways. In both cases the new configurations of responsibilities and (dis)empowerment of citizens, exist in a delicate balance with professional power and professionals’ legal responsibility to
secure the health and wellbeing of citizens in their care. We argue that the manner in which issues of trust and surveillance are brought to the fore of care relationships does not necessarily correspond to the extent of surveillance, but rests on the organizational regime, general framing (such as ‘controlling
compliance’ or ‘safe, responsive and individualized care’) and the types of interactions facilitated by the technology.
Publikationsdatosep. 2017
StatusUdgivet - sep. 2017
BegivenhedAnnual Meeting of the Society for Social Studies of Science : STS (In)Sensibilities - Sheraton Hotel, Boston, USA
Varighed: 30 aug. 20172 sep. 2017


KonferenceAnnual Meeting of the Society for Social Studies of Science
LokationSheraton Hotel
AndetIf sensibility is the ability to grasp and to respond, how might we articulate the (in)sensibilities of contemporary technoscience? How, similarly, can we reflect on the extent and limits of our own sensibilities as STS scholars, teachers, and activists? The conference theme invites an open reading and exploration of how the world is made differently sense-able through multiple discourses and practices of knowledge-making, as well as that which evades the sensoria of technoscience and STS. Our aim is that the sense of ‘sense’ be read broadly, from mediating technologies of perception and apprehension to the discursive and material practices that render worlds familiar and strange, real and imagined, actual and possible, politically (in)sensitive and ethically sensible. <br/><br/>We welcome open panel and closed session proposals, individual paper submissions, and proposals for events that are innovative in their delivery, organization, range of topics, and type of public. Due to the growing number of submissions and our desire to be as inclusive as possible, each participant will be strictly limited to only one paper or media presentation and one other activity (such as session chair or discussant), for a maximum of two appearances. Participation in the Making and Doing event (see below) is not counted toward this limit.<br/>

Citer dette