The Entwinement of Policy, Design and Care Scripts: Providing Alternative Choice‐dependency Situations with Care Robots

Niels Christian Mossfeldt Nickelsen*, Johan Simonsen Abildgaard

*Corresponding author for this work

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The use of robots to assist feeding has become important for people with an impaired arm function. Yet, despite large-scale dissemination strategies, it has proven difficult to sustain the use of this technology. This ethnographic study draws on the script approach to discuss the use of robots to assist feeding. The empirical work was done at locations in Denmark and Sweden. Drawing on document studies, interviews, observation of meals and video footage, we discuss (1) policy strategies promoting ideas such as self-reliance; (2) design visions promoting ideas such as empowerment; (3) and three scripts of care: (a) the script of choice, (b) the script of eating alone and (c) the script of eating together. We argue that scripts entwine and give rise to and prevent the use of robots. The study contributes to the script literature and the care robot literature by substantiating that care robots may generate choice-dependency situations for users. Rather than the somewhat overflowing ‘self-reliance’ and ‘empowerment’, alternative configurations of choice and dependency emerge, in which some situations fit users better than others. We conclude that although sustaining the use of feeding robots is difficult, in some cases, useful choices arise for both end-users and care providers.
Original languageEnglish
JournalSociology of Health and Illness
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)451-468
Number of pages18
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2022

Bibliographical note

Published online: 29 January 2022.


  • Care robotd
  • Care work
  • Disability
  • Feeding technology
  • Script literature
  • Values

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