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Markets and Products for Older People


Wed 26. 8.  16:00 - 17:30
room FA 203

Visions of Care, Visions of Life: Welfare Technology and the Ageing Welfare State


Tøndel, Gunhild (1); Bergschöld, Jenny Melind (2)
1: Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Norway; 2: Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Norway

The development of Nordic health and care services has been followed by a fear of the end of the services. Since the 1970s, demographic projections of a growing number of seniors, new user groups and a shortage of “warm hands” have portrayed the future as insecure. To address the concerns of sustainability and quality of care, “welfare technology” has entered the vocabulary of health authorities, management, professionals and researchers. Welfare technology is often associated with things such as safety alarms, GPS sensors and smart house technologies. However, welfare technologies are not only things. They represent sociocultural projects aimed at specific groups of users and political goals, to minimize risk and maximize care. This makes “welfare technology” into a lens to study governmentality and society in the making – the ageing welfare state and its techniques to regulate problems. In this paper we explore the sociotechnical construction of welfare technology and how this process has been related to changing governmental visions of formal care/welfare for elderly citizens in Norway. Which configuration of people, tools and values did welfare technology emerge from? Which visions of care/welfare has been privileged, sorted out, transformed or forgotten through this process? We are not concerned with visions as facts or fictions, but as work material for stakeholders. The analysis builds on health and care policy documents from the 1970s to the present “welfare technology situation”, such as governmental papers, reports, hearings and technical documents concerning welfare technology.