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Actor-Network Theory – a new theoretical approach in assisted living architectural research
Linköping University, Department of Social and Welfare Studies, NISAL - National Institute for the Study of Ageing and Later Life. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-5295-2482
2012 (English)Conference paper, Presentation (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The architecture of assisted living facilities is to a large extent repetitive design models that exhibit strong familiarity with the models of the past. This lack of architectural innovation is a hinder to the development of the care model as well. Care in assisted living still have a significant focus on the group, while individual wishes and needs are not catered for to the same extent. This presentation offers a discussion of a new research perspective aimed to explore the impact of the architectural component on care practices and organization. It suggests a theoretical approach in which architectural elements as well as artifacts are given agency. This perspective is expected to reveal the hidden but often substantial impact on everyday life and work of architectural space. Actor-network theory (ANT) includes physical components together with human beings (and a number of immaterial components) in the networks that compose any organization or activity. Applied to assisted living facilities and their activities, two major problems are discernible: Physical artifacts, such as walls forming spaces, give duration to networks to the extent that they may seem self-evident. Since our (human beings) perspective is naturally the human perspective, artifacts’ impact then appears as everydayness embedded in environments we live in and also render difficult the researcher’s analysis of the architectural component. ANT offers a way out of this dilemma by furnishing performative properties to architectural elements. A point of departure is that architecture does things to human beings and organizations. This presentation discusses on the basis of data from the author’s research on assisted living facility architecture how architecture impacts on the care organization and on the care practices from an ANT perspective. Everyday care situations exemplify the short-comings of current assisted living design models. This includes an analysis of design model qualities which also shows their persistence over time. The presentation concludes by suggesting a research agenda in which ANT is an analysis tool offering a way to understand assisted living as a physical artifact and networks in various scales.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Keyword [en]
Actor Network Theory, architectural research, assisted living
National Category
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-88423OAI: diva2:603443
International Conference ARCH12 and Forum Vårdbyggnad Nordic Conference, 12-14 November 2012, Gothenburg, Sweden
Available from: 2013-02-05 Created: 2013-02-05 Last updated: 2015-04-22

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Nord, Catharina
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NISAL - National Institute for the Study of Ageing and Later LifeFaculty of Arts and Sciences

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