Accepted paper:

Soft technologies of the participatory society


Susan van Hees (Tilburg University)
Maria Jansen (Maastricht University / Public Health Service)
Dirk Ruwaard (CAPRI- School for Public Health and Primary Care, Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences, Maastricht University)
Klasien Horstman (Maastricht University)

Paper short abstract:

Paper long abstract:

Solidarity, responsibility and participation are key words of the Dutch reform of a welfare state into a 'participatory society'. This reform entails that the meaning of citizenship has changed from entitlements towards obligations and responsibilities. Old age has been connected to the notion of entitlements for decades, articulating the idea that people of old age have 'earned' their pension and healthcare. However, while elderly people consider themselves entitled, authorities define them as dependent healthcare consumers. Professionals like nurses, social workers, elderly advisors and municipal workers have to connect the different meanings of citizenship and the expectations about care that accompany these meanings. Professionals collaborate in multidisciplinary social care teams to mediate the different perspectives of authorities and elderly people. They use soft technologies like kitchen-table conversations, case-management, and shared registration systems to perform their mediating role. In this study we followed a collaborative project in the Southern part of the Netherlands that aims to develop lifecycle robust neighborhoods. Elderly people are approached as 'full' citizens, in an attempt to face the challenges of an aging population and expanding healthcare expenditures. To understand the construction of elderly citizenship, we interviewed elderly people, welfare-, healthcare- and housing professionals, policy-makers, civil servants, directors and aldermen (n=72). Besides this, we observed project-meetings, performed focus groups and analyzed documents. Based on the empirical data collected, we will demonstrate how soft technologies help to mediate the meaning of citizenship, participation and aging. Meanwhile professional boundaries shift, new responsibilities to construct responsible elderly citizens demand new expertise.

panel D1
Technologies of care and participation: Shifting the distribution of expertise and responsibilities