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Accepted Paper:

The potentially fit - enacting value in old age  
Malene Bødker (University of Copenhagen)

Paper short abstract:

This paper explores how the notion of potential unfolds in enabling care for older people in asking how value is enacted in enabling care policy and practice through the definition, identification and realisation of potential and with what implications for eldercare workers and older citizens.

Paper long abstract:

The notion of potential appears as a fundamental allocation principle in relation to enabling care. Enabling care is an eldercare model aiming at substituting long-term care arrangements for short-term home-based training courses and appears as a central policy solution to minimising the growing ageing popula-tion's demand for eldercare services. In this context, it is essential that enabling care is targeted those that will benefit from it, i.e. those with potential. This paper sets out to explore how the notion of potential unfolds in a Danish enabling care setting. More specifically, the paper investigates how value is enacted through the political and practical tasks of defining, identifying and realising older citizens' potential and with what implications for eldercare workers and older citizens. The empirical material consists of policy documents, interviews with eldercare workers and observations of interactions between eldercare workers and citizens being assessed for their eligibility for and possibly undergoing enabling care. I argue that politically, potential is defined in terms of economic value. In eldercare workers' practical identification and realisation of potential, however, potential appears as a much more complex entity. Through the use of assessment tools and gathering of information from various actors, including hospital staff, GPs, relatives and citizens themselves, other types of value, such as dignity and quality of life, often appear; values that must be weighed against each other. Potential therefore emerges as a highly fluid and negotiable entity existing in landscape of competing values, which it is up to eldercare workers to navigate in.

Panel T049
STS and normativity: analyzing and enacting values
  Session 1 Friday 2 September, 2016, -