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The Politics and Possibilities of Self-Tracking Technology: Data, Bodies and Design

Suneel Jethani
University of Technology Sydney, Australia

Product Details
18 Jun 2021
Emerald Publishing Limited
212 pages - 152 x 229mm
Collecting data about our lives, our bodies and our behaviours has become a part of everyday practice that promises greater self-awareness, healthier living and increased productivity. This book focuses on the dialectical relationship between users and designers of self-tracking technology to examine how logics of datafication redefine the body. It explores what these emerging relations mean for imagining, designing and analysing sociotechnical systems that bring about self-tracking.

Jethani provides a genealogy of self-tracking to situate the notions of quantified and quantifiable selves as problematic data regimes within contemporary digital culture. It charts the origins of self-tracking from within the blueprint of the "Californian Ideology" to a global social movement which now reaches beyond self-experimentation to encompass the wider trajectories of using wearable sensor technology in the neoliberal management of health, wellbeing and productivity.

The book reframes and theorises the quantified self by re-examining and developing arguments of how bodies "disappear" (Jewson), are made "docile" (Foucault) and get caught up in "rhythms" (Lefebvre) by datafication. The concept of a "quantised" self is introduced as a means of reading into and exposing the inherent political interests being served when self-tracking technology is introduced into clinical, home and workplace settings. Drawing from case studies of self-tracking in practice, the final chapter sketches the outline of a mutual praxis of critique and design that allows us to reimagine the politics embedded in sociotechnical systems of self-tracking and to consider possibilities of intervention.
PART I. VISIONS QUANTIFIED AND QUANTIFIABLE SERVICES Chapter 1. The Quantified Self Chapter 2. The Quantifiable Self: Precision Medicine, the Quantified “All” and the Disappearance of Body PART II. RULES THE EMBODIED PRACTICES OF SELF TRACKING AND Chapter 3. Lessons from Electronic Monitoring Chapter 4. Sociometry PART III. THE QUANTISED SELF:DISCIPLINE AND DESIGN Chapter 5. The Quantised Self Chapter 6. Conclusion: Anticipating the Quantised Self in Design
Suneel Jethani is a Lecturer in Digital and Social Media at the University of Technology Sydney. He has published work in International Communication Gazette, Communication, Politics & Culture and M/C Journal.

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