As has been remarked by other researchers, the elderly population in Norway is growing with increasing speed, while at the same time, the number of health- and care workers needed to accommodate this growth is decreasing accordingly. The change in demographics resulting from this ”tidal-wave of elderly”, has consequently called for a reconfiguring of the national health– and care sector. Part of this provident rearrangement, is to move technologies into the homes of the elderly - with the goal of letting them stay at home for as long as possible, providing them with independent living (Finken & Mörtberg, 2011; 2012a, Finken, 2011). In this study, I follow one of these moves into a particular care unit situated in Oslo kommune, and examine how three of its respective residents and the technologies they surround themselves with, come to interact through everyday practices and activities.
The main objective of the thesis is to explore how these technologies’ initial design may unfold unexpectedly – and what the residents do in order to deal with the consequences. Through the research question “What do displacement processes in care technology design signify, in terms of how, what, why, and for whom?” I address how the residents’ rearrangements – those which constitutes a displacement of the care technology design – are enacted in terms of how, what, why, and for whom. The research question is examined using an ethnographic mode of inquiry, whereby the following qualitative methods have been used in gathering applicable data: document analysis, interview, and participant observation. The empirical field material is in turn analyzed through the concepts of delegation, translation, fluidity and heterogeneity, all derived from Science and Technology Studies (STS).
The analysis indicates that there is a lot of work involved around living with care technologies and upholding them as caring aids. This is an on-going process, which the residents face on a day-to-day basis while carrying on with their everyday practices and activities. More importantly, the analysis shows that the residents start to refuse the roles, which are prescribed to them during these processes. Instead, they rearrange (displace) the care technology design in a way that fit with their own goals, interests, identities and abilities to act. While the care technology design is changed, its boundaries and working order are too.
Keywords: Displacement, care technologies, design and use, smart homes, older people, delegation, heterogeneity, translation, fluidity