How UK Research and Innovation projects imagine social care and accountability

Categories: research notes
Categories: research notes

Some ongoing data research on how innovation and technology projects funded by UK research councils consider understand social care. I wanted to know two things:

  1. How research about innovation in social care such as assistive living robotics, advanced data tech like AI and machine learning applications and tele-health conceptualised and imagined what exactly social care is.
  2. And what kind of accountability structures the technology or innovation was designed to plug into.

Here is a visualisation of data coded from 119 projects found in UKRI’s database of funded projects, Gateway To Research. These reference variations of the query:

"social care" AND (innovation OR technology)

The queries returned approx. 230 projects, which were further assessed by hand. I threw out the projects in which social care was mentioned only in passing, such as references to the Health and Social Care Bill, or where the research was on fundamental knowledge production, and not applicable to everyday social care contexts. 119 projects were then inductively coded. Here are the results.

service_p –> care imagined as service provision
techno_d –> care imagined as techno-deterministic
situated –> care situated and emergent from social, material and technological settings
relational –> care emergent from human relations, networks and practices

These ways in which care are imagined on the left map to representations of accountability structures in social care on the right. Each of 119 projects are illustrated in proportion to their aggregated funding.

The big takeaway here is that innovation research, in the main, is failing to consider radical alternatives to how care is imagined, as a service to be provided, in dominant policy discussions. More results to follow.