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Accepted Paper:

When domestic life becomes networked: Digital inequality in the smart home  
Line Kryger Aagaard (Aalborg University)

Paper short abstract:

This paper explores the increasing ‘smartification’ of Danish homes by looking at smart technologies’ effect on social life, everyday practices and domestic roles. New forms of digital housekeeping reconfigure the home as a networked space, risking reinforcing gendered divisions of household labour.

Paper long abstract:

Smart lights, automated heating and digital voice assistants – these are some of the popular technologies that Scandinavians increasingly invite into their homes. Affecting not only material life, smart home technology (SHT) also impacts everyday practices, domestic roles and relations. This paper explores the role of SHT in a Danish context which is particularly characterized by the spread of SHT. Based on home visits and interviews with 15 households, the paper illustrates how SHT reconfigures the home as a networked space, implying new forms of digital housekeeping while simultaneously affecting existing household practices. When SHT moves in, digital skills and competences become increasingly important, however, such skills are often unequally distributed between household members, underpinning gendered categories of technology use and interest. When one person in the household – often a man – is more in charge of the digital housekeeping, while other (often female) household members engage less with the technology, this can lead to subtle forms of power imbalances in the home as a networked space. Furthermore, the unequal distribution of digital housekeeping risks reinforcing gendered divisions of household labour while also leading to new forms of digital inequality within the home. Drawing attention to these risks, the paper illustrates the importance of creating equal domestic spaces and responding to differentiated technological competences considering current digital transformations in our society and homes.

Panel P040a
Digital Transformations and Social Life [Future Anthropologies Network] I
  Session 1 Wednesday 27 July, 2022, -