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Accepted Paper:

Giving voice to unheard older adults. Participation technologies for knowledge-making-practices  
Susan van Hees (Utrecht University) Katrien Luijkx (Tilburg University)

Paper short abstract:

To enable frail older adults' participation in knowledge-making-practices in applied ageing studies, we experiment with qualitative methodologies as participation technologies, including the development of a research tool. This paper examines how different methodologies include different publics.

Paper long abstract:

In applied ageing studies, research agendas are often inspired by prior research insights combined with experiences in care practice of professional and managerial staff. Within our Academic Collaborative Center for Older Adults we presuppose, that, to improve the applicability of research for the daily life of older adults, older adults themselves need to participate at a strategic level of knowledge-making-practices.

To enable frail older adults living in nursing homes to participate in research decisions (agenda setting for instance), we are currently engaging in their daily practices. We introduce ethnographic methodologies as participation technologies. Based on different individual contexts and preferences a variety of participation technologies is needed to enable participation of many people. In addition to traditional methodologies such as interviews, observations and focus groups, we have asked social designers to design an innovative participation tool. This tool aims to (also) enable participation of people who are unable/unwilling to share their stories verbally. By using these methodologies as a mediating technologies for participation, we aim to give voice to as many older adults as possible.

In this paper we reflect on how these technologies give people a voice in knowledge-making-practices, how they include new, yet unheard voices, while excluding others. We analyse how different methodologies enable and constrain participation and what this means for non-participants. By demonstrating how different participation technologies do (or do not) mediate older adults' role in knowledge-making-practices, we simultaneously unravel implicit and explicit power relations.

Panel E06
The room where it happens: inclusion, exclusion and power in STS research and practice
  Session 1