The social dimension of domesticating technology: Interactions between older adults, caregivers, and robots in the home
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionTechnological Forecasting and Social Change. 2021, 167, . 10.1016/j.techfore.2021.120678
In this article we look at the home as an arena for care by exploring how care robots and technological care-systems can become part of older adults’ lives. We investigate the domestication of robot technology in the context of what in Scandinavia is called “welfare technology” (relating to the terms “gerontechnology” and “Active Assisted Living,”) that especially aims to mitigate older adults´ challenges with living in their own homes. Through our case study, we investigate a system called eWare, where a flowerpot robot called “Tessa” works in symbiosis with a sensor technology “SensaraCare.” Together, they create a socio-technical ecosystem involving older adult end-users living at home, formal caregivers (e.g. healthcare workers), and informal caregivers (normally family members). We analyze our ethnographic fieldwork through the theoretical concept of “domestication of technology,” focusing on an established three-dimensional model that includes practical, symbolic, and cognitive levels of analysis. We found that social bonds and different ways of using the same technology ecosystem were crucial, and so we supplement this model by suggesting a fourth dimension, which we term the social dimension of the domestication of technology.