Digital Health and the Gamification of Life: How Apps Can Promote a Positive Medicalization

Antonio Maturo
University of Bologna, Italy

Veronica Moretti
University of Bologna, Italy

Product Details
16 Oct 2018
Emerald Publishing Limited
192 pages - 152 x 229mm
This book analyses the role of technology in the realm of health. Health apps can promote medicalization and the idea that health is an individual matter, rather than a political and social one. The authors base their arguments around three theoretical frameworks. Quantification: the growing importance in our society of markers, rankings, and scores, which thanks to digital devices is fueled by the ease with which it is now possible to collect data. Gamification: a powerful trend in digital society, using playful features to transform what are seen as dull tasks into competitive and appealing ones. Gamified self-tracking seemingly increases our productivity without oppressing us with apparent self-governance. Finally, Medicalization: a growing social phenomenon of the transformation of a 'normal' condition into something pathological. Several health apps presuppose a conception of the user as an individualized subject divorced from any social determinants of health. The authors investigate the possibility of people sharing their most private states leading to new forms of algorithmic surveillance. Alongside this negative vision of medicalization the authors recover the now-rare concept of positive medicalization, looking at how apps can work as positive self-help devices though promoting a medical framework. A selection of digital programs related to fitness in the workplace are also presented and discussed.
Chapter 1. Self-Tracking and the Quantification of Everyday Life 
Chapter 2. Getting Things Done: Gaming and Framing 
Chapter 3. How Apps Foster Medicalization
Chapter 4. The Self of the Quantified Self 
Chapter 5. The Dark Side of Digital Health 
Chapter 6. The Positive Medicalization: Digital Meditation 
Chapter 7. Exercise is (also) Medicine 
Antonio Francesco Maturo is Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology and Business Law at the University of Bologna, Italy. He taught Sociology of Medicine at Brown University for several years. His research interests are connected to the sociology of health. He has written several articles about the phenomenon of medicalization and digital sociology.
Veronica Moretti is Research Fellow in the Department of Political and Social Sciences at the University of Bologna, Italy. Her research interests focus on the intersections between technologies and human activities, with specific emphasis on the sociology of health, surveillance and risk studies, and science, technology, and society approach.

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