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Inadvertent environmentalism and the action–value opportunity: reflections from studies at both ends of the generational spectrumA recent turn towards a more contextually sensitive apprehension of the challenge of making everyday life less resource hungry has been partly underwritten by widespread evidence that the environmental values people commonly profess to hold do not often translate into correspondingly low impact actions. Yet sometimes the contexts of everyday life can also conspire to make people limit their consumption without ever explicitly connecting this to the environmental agenda. This paper considers this phenomenon with reference to UK studies from both ends of the generational spectrum. The first questioned how older people keep warm at home during winter and the second examined how young people get rid of no longer wanted possessions. Both found that, though the respondents involved were acting in certain ways that may be deemed comparatively low impact, they were hitherto relatively indifferent to the idea of characterising these actions as such. We outline three ways in which sustainability advocates might respond to the existence of such “inadvertent environmentalists” and consider how they might inspire studies that generate fresh intervention ideas instead of lingering on the dispiriting recognition that people do not often feel able to act for the environment.
Participatory design for future care related technologies: lessons from the Smart Distress Monitor ProjectThe impact of care related technology on older people’s health and well-being is growing constantly and at a rapid pace. Participatory approaches to the design and development of care related technology have become increasingly common; however, these approaches have often included older people simply as test participants, rather than co-researchers, in the evaluation of developing technologies. This paper presents a participatory project involving older people in the design and development of an intelligent activity/inactivity monitoring system for domestic environments. In order to be successful, the development of such a system must be viewed less as a technological challenge and more as the creation of an integrated socio-technical system in which technology is functional to the people and organisations involved.