Daniel López

Universitat Oberta de Catalunya


When tinkering is not enough: engineering peer-care communities for later life as caring for autonomy-enabling arrangement

Current innovations for active-ageing are mostly technologies to promote professionally supported self-care as an alternative to nursing homes, shelter houses and full time family caregiving in ageing societies. Most of these innovations are marketed as solutions for individual users who aim to age at home longer, safer and healthier. In contrast to these innovations, which are very much focused on technology consumption and self-care individual responsibility, senior cohousing projects are communitarian grassrooted innovations whose main focus is to design and produce new solidarities that enable both care and independence.

Based on currently ongoing fieldwork on the flourishing senior cohousing movement in the context of spanish crisis, I aim to show how these solidarities are sociotechnically produced as the result of entangling, on the one hand, the configuration of a community–made of personal bonds, norms, juridical rules and practices of governance, with, on the other hand, technological infrastructures for living and caring that must be materially informed by the community’s knowledge, skills and goals. In this regard, these communities are approached as innovative caring communities rather than just a community of caring technology users or innovators, which certainly pose a challenge to our usual approach to active-ageing innovations.