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Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology

Volume 19, Issue 2, Spring 2015

Techno-Anthropology

Maja Hojer Bruun, Signe Hanghøj, Cathrine Hasse
Pages 143-165

Studying Social Robots in Practiced Places

What is the strength of anthropological fieldwork when we want to understand human technologies? In this article we argue that anthropological fieldwork can be understood as a process of gaining insight into different contextualisations in practiced places that will open up new understandings of technologies in use, e.g., technologies as multistable ontologies. The argument builds on an empirical study of robots at a Danish rehabilitation centre. Ethnographic methods combined with anthropological learning processes open up new way for exploring how robots enter into professional practices and change values, social relations and materialities. Though substantial funding has been invested in developing health service robots, few studies have been undertaken that explore human-robot interactions as they play out in everyday practice. We argue that the complex learning processes involve not only so-called end-users but also staff, management, doings and discourse in a complex amalgamation of materials and values.