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Installing telecare, installing users: Felicity conditions for the instauration of usership

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published

Journal publication date2014
JournalScience, Technology and Human Values
Early online date9/01/14
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

This article reports on ethnographic research into the practical and ethical consequences of the implementation and use of telecare devices for older people living at home in Spain and the United Kingdom. Telecare services are said to allow the maintenance of their users’ autonomy through connectedness, relieving the isolation from which many older people suffer amid rising demands for care. However, engaging with Science and Technology Studies (STS) literature on “user configuration” and implementation processes, we argue here that neither services nor users preexist the installation of the service: they are better described as produced along with it. Moving beyond design and appropriation practices, our contribution stresses the importance of installations as specific moments where such emplacements take place. Using Etienne Souriau’s concept of instauration, we describe the ways in which, through installation work, telecare services “bring into existence” their very infrastructure of usership. Hence, both services and telecare users are effects of fulfilling the “felicity conditions” (technical, relational, and contractual) of an achieved installation.

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