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International PhD contract: "Care-led Innovation. The case of elderly care in France and Japan"

This offer is available in the following languages:
Français - Anglais

Date Limite Candidature : mardi 6 juillet 2021

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General information

Reference : UMR8173-SOUBEN-010
Workplace : PARIS 06
Date of publication : Tuesday, May 25, 2021
Scientific Responsible name : Sébastien LECHEVALIER
Type of Contract : PhD Student contract / Thesis offer
Contract Period : 36 months
Start date of the thesis : 1 October 2021
Proportion of work : Full time
Remuneration : 2 135,00 € gross monthly

Description of the thesis topic

The procedure to apply to this position includes two steps:
1) Upload your CV on the CNRS website: https://bit.ly/3yAmmh2
2) Send the three following documents to sebastien.lechevalier@ehess.fr :
- a research project of 4-5 pages (including a bibliography), in line with the description of the project on the CNRS website;
- a CV with official information on the grades received during the master program(s);
- a reference letter.

These two steps should be completed by August 1st (1 pm, French time)
Answers will be given by August 15th. A maximum of 5 shortlisted candidates will have an interview by late August - early September

Objective and subject of the thesis, scientific field and theme
Increasing human longevity and an aging population are major challenges for our societies. One of the key issues is care for the elderly, who face loss of autonomy and forms of vulnerability. In this field, the contribution of several technologies is recognized as a possible response, especially in Japan, with the use of personal robotics. However, this approach is also marked by certain limitations, which have been well identified by anthropologists (Wright, 2020) but also innovation sociologists (Morey, 2020), among others.

The premise of this project is that it is not a one-time problem, but a fundamental deadlock related to the way social needs and technological responses are articulated. It is therefore urgent to reconnect social and technological dynamics, by proposing a concept and innovation practices, which make well-being the ultimate criterion of innovation (Lechevalier, 2019).

Focusing on the issue of elder care and analysing specific technologies (robotics, artificial intelligence, information and communication technologies, medical devices, etc.) at the service of specific problems likely to lead to a loss of autonomy, partial or total (mobility, cognitive impairments, isolation, etc.), this project adopts an embodied and concrete approach to innovation. The proposal is to put the concept of care (Molinier et al., 2009) at the heart of the analysis.

Presentation of the research project (and its cooperative aspect)
With this general question in mind, the mobilization of French and Japanese fields is relevant, given the commonalities between these countries (longevity dynamics, dominant paradigm of innovation) but also their differences (social contract between generations, forms of social protection, types of technology mobilized, etc.). The COVID-19 crisis also merits specific analysis as it has revealed implicit tensions and choices within our societies.

The existing literature on the subject has made significant progress in recent years in trying to better integrate the views of users (Obayashi et al., 2020). However, this consideration is still imperfect, from the point of view of the well-being analysis, and still very marked by the prospect of the acceptability of certain technologies. For their part, despite rare exceptions (Allouche et al., 2015), care-based approaches tend to set aside technology.

Technologies that can be mobilized for the service of the elderly facing problems of autonomy and vulnerability include robotics, artificial intelligence, information and communication technologies (ICT)). The target areas are varied and relate to communication, mobility or cognitive abilities. The PhD candidate will need to identify one or two specific technologies and one or two areas of application.

Within the framework of this project, while being in direct contact with technology designers and users, we limit the ambition of our contribution to theoretical work (construction of the concept of care-led innovation and definition of a criterion for assessing the contribution of innovations to care needs) and empirical work (implementation of a protocol for the analysis of technologies and their uses according to this criterion) within the social sciences.

The concept of care-led innovation is thus in the logical continuity of our previous work on innovation beyond technology, which made well-being and not competitiveness the ultimate criterion of innovation at the service of social needs. The notion of care makes it possible to specify the latter, emphasizing interindividual and social relations and taking into account both material and emotional dimensions. From an empirical point of view, we aim to establish criteria to qualify an care-led innovation care (or not), by introducing a protocol for analyzing technologies.

Several elements emerge from this project:
1) The aim is to bridge the gap between these two approaches by proposing a concept of care-led innovation
2) The methodological approach is fundamentally multidisciplinary. This is why students with a training in sociology or economics of innovation, in STS, but also in approaches of care are invited to apply.
3) A theoretical part of the thesis work will be based on the construction of the concept of care-led innovation by mobilizing literature on innovation and care.
4) The empirical part will be based on interviews with both carers and elder people and on the collection of data from sources, administrative and private, French and Japanese, on indicators of life expectancy without disability, on the uses of technologies, their costs and the estimated impact in terms of well-being.
5) This project is based on an international comparative approach. The value of the comparison with Japan is absolutely essential. As for the comparison with France, even if it is preferred, it may, depending on the candidate's profile, be replaced, if necessary, by a comparison with another country.

Bibliographic references
Akrich, M. (1992). The description of technical objects. In Shaping Technology/Building Society. Studies in Sociotechnical Change, (p. 205-224.). The MIT Press.
Allouche, S., Laugier, S., & Lestel, D. (2015). Le care des robots. In Multitudes.
Berthou, V., & Gaglio, G. (2020). L'enrôlement différencié des usagers dans les living labs en santé et autonomie en France. Réseaux, N° 222(4), 165 198.
Dalgalarrondo, S., & Hauray, B. (2020). Robots and ageing Sociology of a technological promise. [Report, EHESS - Paris]. https://halshs.archives-ouvertes.fr/halshs-03094729
Damamme, A., Hirata, H. S., & Molinier, P. (2017). Le travail entre public, privé et intime : Comparaisons et enjeux internationaux du care. L'Harmattan.
Guillemard, A.-M. (2010). Les défis du vieillissement : Âge, emploi, retraite, perspectives internationales. Armand Colin.
Guillemard, A.-M., & Mascova, E. (2017). Allongement de la vie : Quels défis ? Quelles politiques ? La Découverte.
Hirata, H. (2011). Le travail du care pour les personnes âgées au Japon. Informations sociales, n° 168(6), 116 122.
Isabet, B., Pino, M., Lewis, M., Benveniste, S., & Rigaud, A.-S. (2021). Social Telepresence Robots: A Narrative Review of Experiments Involving Older Adults before and during the COVID-19 Pandemic. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 18(7), 3597.
Joly Pierre-Benoît, 2015, « Le régime des promesses technoscientifique » dans Pourquoi tant de promesses ?, Hermann., p. pp.31-48.
Lechevalier, S. (Éd.). (2019). Innovation beyond technology: Science for society and interdisciplinary approaches. Springer.
Martin, B. R. (2016). Twenty challenges for innovation studies. Science and Public Policy, 43(3), 432 450.
Molinier, P., Laugier, S., & Paperman, P. (2009). Qu'est-ce que le care ? Souci des autres, sensibilité, responsabilité. Payot.
Morey, P. (2020). « La liberté en toute sécurité ». Les promesses des dispositifs techniques de géolocalisation des résident.e.s en EHPAD face aux tensions morales du care [Thèse de sociologie]. EHESS.
Obayashi, K., Kodate, N., & Masuyama, S. (2020). Can connected technologies improve sleep quality and safety of older adults and care-givers? An evaluation study of sleep monitors and communicative robots at a residential care home in Japan. Technology in Society, 62, 101318.
Seko, R., Hashimoto, S., Kawado, M., Murakami, Y., Hayashi, M., Kato, M., Noda, T., Ojima, T., Nagai, M., & Tsuji, I. (2012). Trends in Life Expectancy With Care Needs Based on Long-term Care Insurance Data in Japan. Journal of Epidemiology, 22(3), 238 243.
Shimohara, K. (2020). System Design of Community Toward Wellbeing. In S. Yamamoto & H. Mori (Éds.), Human Interface and the Management of Information. Interacting with Information (p. 254 263). Springer.
Sugawara, Y. M., & Saito, Y. (2016). Changes in disability-free life expectancy (DFLE) at birth between 2000 and 2010 across Japanese prefectures. International Journal of Public Health, 61(7), 739 749.
Suwa, S., Tsujimura, M., Ide, H., Kodate, N., Ishimaru, M., Shimamura, A., & Yu, W. (2020). Home-care Professionals' Ethical Perceptions of the Development and Use of Home-care Robots for Older Adults in Japan. International Journal of Human-Computer Interaction, 36, 1 9.
Wright, J. (2020). Comparing the Development and Commercialization of Care Robots in the European Union and Japan. Fondation France-Japon Discussion Paper Series n°2020-01.

Work Context

This project is part of the international thesis programme of the Mission for Transversal and Interdisciplinary Initiatives of the CNRS. The doctoral student will be enrolled in the doctoral school of the École des hautes études en sciences sociales (EHESS) and will be assigned to the China-Korea-Japan joint research unit (CCJ). The thesis will be supervised by Professor Sébastien Lechevalier (EHESS). The projet includes one year of fieldwork (with the possibility of splitting the research trips).
The UMR is based on the Campus Condorcet (3, cours des Humanités, 93300 Aubervillers) where the PhD student will be provided with a workspace in the CCJ doctoral students' office.
The CCJ is a research unit of the CNRS, the EHESS and the University of Paris. It is one of the main French laboratories dedicated to research on East and North Asia, with a focus on Chinese, Korean and Japanese studies as well as Taiwanese, Mongolian and Tibetan studies. It brings together The research center on modern and contemporary China (CECMC), the Centre for Korean Studies (CRC) and the Centre for Japanese Studies (CRJ).

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