Thematic Panel 5 – Technologizing Care: Conflicts, Paradoxes and Priorities

Thematic Panel 5

Technologizing Care: Conflicts, Paradoxes and Priorities

Conveners and Discussants:

Morten Hjelholt, Associate Professor and Jannick Schou, Assistant Professor, Department of Business IT, University of Copenhagen, Denmark

Digital devices and welfare technologies have become increasingly pervasive within care practices and policy agendas in advanced welfare states. Telemedicine, robot technology, artificial intelligence, and self-service platforms are only a few examples of what has been said to revolutionize welfare provision and care work, allowing public institutions to simultaneously cut costs and improve the conditions for delivering better care. Even though welfare technologies have attracted research attention for quite some time, there is, as of yet, few systematic attempts at understanding how these technologies have impacted policy priorities as well as everyday care practices. Moreover, while the ’technologization of care’ has often been directed at traditionally disadvantaged groups of citizens — such as disabled or frail senior citizens — it is also often these groups who have trouble using such technologies. Adding to this, the use of care technologies has often warranted the withdrawal of resources for care workers themselves, meaning that interpersonal contact is substituted by technical devices. In this sense, technologizing care is ripe with potential conflicts and paradoxes. This thematic panel is interested in unpacking and understanding the technologization of care by looking at the new links being made between technology, everyday care practices and policy priorities. Inviting papers from different geographical settings and open to a diversity of methodological approaches, the panel seeks to focus on questions such as:

  • How and in what ways does the technologization of care shift political priorities as to who gets care and how? Does the use of care technologies exclude certain groups?
  • How does technologized care impact existing care approaches and what kinds of conflicts and paradoxes does this create?
  • How has the technologization of care been politically justified and discursively constructed? What are the aims and purposes of introducing technologies in care work?
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