Information and Other Bodily Functions: Stool Records in Danish Residential Homes

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Abstract

Paper-based stool records are used in public and private residential homes throughout Denmark. Although they represent a simple technology, they are an important tool in ensuring proper personal hygiene for residents. This article shows how the use of stool records involves both scientific and everyday forms of knowledge. While the activity of keeping stool records derives its legitimation from the scientific study of feces, those who work with the stool records on a daily basis have found some very different applications for the technology. These applications foster a variety of understandings of stool records in residential homes. Is it their aim to help satisfy biological needs? Is it to ensure control? Is it to ensure individual freedom? Is it to ensure efficiency? Is it to display professionalism? Is it to maintain order in the everyday operation of the residential home? To explore the answers to these questions, the article introduces insight from the work of the German sociologist Niklas Luhmann that bear upon how a mundane technology like stool records can function as a mediator between theory and practice, the body and the social, and between different care tasks in residential homes.
Original languageEnglish
JournalScience, Technology & Human Values
Volume36
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)244-268
Number of pages25
ISSN0162-2439
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2011

Keywords

  • Observation
  • Residential Homes
  • Stool Records and System Theory

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