Sociotechnical Systems of Care

A CSCW2018 workshop on Sunday, November 4th in Jersey City.

Call for Participation

The goal of this workshop is to bring together CSCW audiences who engage in studies and interventions related to care work. Our aims are to understand how care has been conceptualized in the extant CSCW community, identify core issues and concerns, and formalize how CSCW concepts could be used as a lens to inquire into this domain.

This workshop will be devoted to understanding how notions of “care” shape the methods, contexts, and practices of CSCW researchers. By shifting focus from care (a term that often connotes particular contexts for research) to care-ing (practices that involve care), we will trace patterns across multiple genres of research: from those that we typically associate with care-work (e.g., healthcare, eldercare, childcare) to those in which care motivates research objectives (e.g., social justice, sustainability) and perspectives (e.g. postanthrocentrism, feminism). This shift brings with it an expanded notion of how we might understand and design with care by framing care as a term that congeals certain sets of practices and orientations to the subjects of research.

The aim of this workshop is to bring multiple practitioners to question how CSCW researchers practice and can practice “caring” within multiple realms of research. For instance, how might insights from studies of caregiving in healthcare settings apply to research involving care for the environment? How can care shape how our research is practiced and presented? How might care force us to confront and motivate action in areas for which we have long been concerned? How can we broaden our understanding of care labor and caring beyond medicalized and formalized understandings of care? As interpersonal and community interactions are increasingly facilitated through the technologies we design, how can we ensure that these often-tacit interactions are still able to take place? How might we be able to improve their efficacy?

For a deeper dive into this line of thinking, please see the full proposal linked below.

Submissions and Themes

Position papers (3-4 pages in ACM extended abstracts format) should be submitted to with the subject “CSCW2018 Workshop Position Paper Submission”, and should respond to at least one of the following workshop themes:

  1. The invisibility of care work. This theme addresses both the care work between people, as well as the care work entangled in making technologies (such as healthcare technologies) function. Consider how the invisibility of care work changes as the individual performing the labor shifts; who is most likely to become overburdened, and what other sociotechnical elements (e.g., maintenance schedules, transportation requirements, etc.) are implicated in this shift of labor? Relatedly: how can we design for invisible forms of care work that are importantly informal?.
  2. Care as sentimentalizing, formalizing, or infantilizing. Technologies developed for healthcare settings can often be built upon infantilizing assumptions, including assumptions that violate a care recipient’s privacy and autonomy. Systems developed outside of a healthcare setting, such as Amazon’s Alexa, are being appropriated for healthcare practices as a way to avoid such infantilization. How can we ensure that built-for-purpose care technologies are designed without these assumptions? What other technologies can be appropriated to counteract designed sentimentalization and infantilization?
  3. Attending to and Designing for Experiences of Care. How might we attend to the experiences and emotions associated with caregiving and care-receiving as a resource for design, rather than qualities to delegate away? How does a focus on “empathy” shape orientations towards care of users and things? How might experiences that exist at the peripheries of care—such as vulnerability, humility, and precarity—be embraced in the design process?
  4. The evolution of care work. How has care work changed, both in terms of the actual actions of care work as well as its perception, and how will it change? Consider how this change can be conceived of both historically as well as personally. For example, how can care technologies change over time with the individual, such as in the face of increasing or declining technical capability? How might we broaden our thinking around care work to include caring actions oriented toward a community?.

While addressing these workshop themes, we also encourage prospective participant position papers to consider concepts that exist in productive and generative tensions with care and caring in CSCW and HCI contexts. Activities and discussions for the workshop will be aligned with accepted submissions.

Submissions may include examples of work related to, but not limited to, the following areas:

  • Introducing theoretical or philosophical framings and perspectives from other fields that will be of relevance to—or help broaden—the workshop themes.
  • Examples and counterexamples that push the conversation in a particular direction.
  • Methods for reflecting on care, or revealing care that is often hidden in or obfuscated by our sociotechnical systems.

All submissions will be reviewed by the organizers and will be accepted to the workshop based on their potential to stimulate conversation and to ensure a complementary and contrasting set of works to discuss on the day.


The primary goal of this workshop is to foster interdisciplinary discussion and engagement around care and “care-ing” in our research settings. We will solicit submissions from researchers and practitioners within HCI, CSCW, STS, and other related fields. Based on these interdisciplinary discussions, we will choose a venue for publishing an initial report of our discussions and engagements. This initial report will be leveraged to organize a special issue for a journal, such as Science, Technology, and Human Values (ST&HV), ToCHI, IJHCS, or HCI.

To register for this workshop (once accepted), please go to and register for both the workshop and for at least one day of the CSCW2018 conference. A note from the CSCW2018 Workshop Chairs: “Workshop registrations can always be added after participants have already registered for the main conference via the RegOnline portal:

Full Proposal

The full workshop proposal document can be found here: Workshop Proposal.