Collaboration or Control? When Gendered Warm Care Meets Cold Technology
Yu-Hsiang Chou (Department of Social Welfare, Chinese Culture University), Shu-Yung Brenda Wang (Department of Social Welfare, National Chung Cheng University)
This study explores the impact on and changes in the labor of longterm care staff, mainly consisting of women, due to the introduction of new technology into long-term care institutions. Qualitative research is conducted, using interview methods and purposive sampling of 13 longterm care workers, two technology industry advisors, and one experienced expert in this field. In doing so, it found a contradictory co-existing relationship of collaboration and control between technology and care work. First, technology can be deemed a strategy to “de-gender” the body of female care workers. It can prevent sexual harassment, alleviate low value and de-professionalization in care work, and complement the mental and physical efforts of the long-term care staff. However, contrary to the effects expected from the management level, workers were subjected to varying bureaucratic and technical labor control methods under technological supervision and were forced to perform in a ubiquitously monitored environment. In other words, female long-term care workers in different positions of the labor hierarchy had different opinions on technology, showing a hierarchical interest conflict. Given these difficulties, this article believes that the “caring democracy” proposed by Tronto (2013) is a possible solution, one which would rely on a national system to introduce a deliberative democracy system for reflection on and reform of long-term care.
care technology, long-term care, labor control, gender, care work