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Accepted Paper:

Robots, ethnographers and care collectives in dementia care: an ethnographic inquiry into the use of pet robots in Danish nursing homes  
Simone Anna Felding (German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE))

Paper short abstract:

Pet robots are widely used in Danish nursing homes and have been since the mid-2000s. In this presentation I will discuss how this futuristic technology and everyday object is embedded in the everyday life of a nursing home for people with dementia and how the robots and I become inseparable.

Paper long abstract:

Pet robots are widely used in Danish nursing homes. They have been in use since the mid-2000s but are simultaneously seen as objects of the future that may be able to help a welfare state struggling to provide good care for the growing number of older adults. These robots are simultaneously futuristic objects and everyday objects with which residents, staff, relatives and I interacted in a Danish nursing home for people with dementia during my ethnographic fieldwork from 2021-2022. When pet robots become embedded in social life, they become everyday objects together with dolls, teddy bears and blankets. In the fieldwork, the used pet robots somehow become an extension of myself and an integral part of the relations that I form with residents. It was hard to pin down where I stopped and the robot begun and to separate how ‘we’ impacted the interactions and the nursing home. This shows something general about the use of technologies in nursing homes. Technologies do not work alone. The pet robots work together with other actors in the nursing home, where care is provided in collectives. These collectives comprise of actors as different as tables, staff, robotic pets and people with dementia working together to care for each other. In this presentation, I aim to show how these robots do not work independently and may not be used, when I am not present in the nursing home, but nevertheless can help provide care and even enhance caring relations when embedded in care collectives.

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