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A critique of robotics in health care

Maibaum, Arne; Bischof, Andreas; Hergesell, Jannis; Lipp, Benjamin

FG Methoden der Empirischen Sozialforschung

When the social relevance of robotic applications is addressed today, the use of assistive technology in care settings is almost always the first example. So-called care robots are presented as a solution to the nursing crisis, despite doubts about their technological readiness and the lack of concrete usage scenarios in everyday nursing practice. We inquire into this interconnection of social robotics and care. We show how both are made available for each other in three arenas: innovation policy, care organization, and robotic engineering. First, we analyze the discursive “logics” of care robotics within European innovation policy, second, we disclose how care robotics is encountering a historically grown conflict within health care organization, and third we show how care scenarios are being used in robotic engineering. From this diagnosis, we derive a threefold critique of robotics in healthcare, which calls attention to the politics, historicity, and social situatedness of care robotics in elderly care.