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Accepted Paper:

Institutional Technologies: Studying and Shifting the "Value" of Elderly Persons   
Lillian Prueher (University of Washington)

Paper short abstract:

This paper analyzes how the act of studying technologies connected to institutional interventions around enacting personhood in eldercare institutions in Chengdu, China can, by influencing forms of sociality within these spaces, also contribute to shifting the nature of these institutional acts.

Paper long abstract:

People live not in isolation, but deeply embedded in social networks. This sociality can influence not only individuals' lived experiences, but also the way their personhood is, or is not, recognized and enacted by others on a daily basis. As lifespans increase, individuals' shifting healthcare needs can force them to seek care in new settings and thus enter into new kinds of social relationships, as well.

This paper examines non-family-based, formal eldercare institutions as sites where personhood, or one's "value" as a person, can become altered by the new social conditions and living arrangements within these settings. Considering personhood as relationally defined, this paper draws on materials and observations collected in and around Chengdu, China to examine how formal eldercare sites use various institutional interventions to create norms and techniques that transform how the institutions, themselves, operate as technologies of care. This paper closes with an analysis of the implications studying such institutional interventions might have for care norms and practices within these spaces.

Funding Statement:

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program under Grant No. DGE-1256082.

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