Emerald Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2021 Suneel Jethani. Published under Exclusive License by Emerald Publishing Limited
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The Politics and Possibilities of Self-Tracking Technology
The Politics and Possibilities of Self-Tracking Technology: Data, Bodies and Design
University of Technology Sydney, Australia
United Kingdom – North America – Japan – India – Malaysia – China
Emerald Publishing Limited
Howard House, Wagon Lane, Bingley BD16 1WA, UK
First edition 2021
Copyright © 2021 Suneel Jethani
Published under Exclusive License by Emerald Publishing Limited
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British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data
A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library
ISBN: 978-1-80043-339-7 (Print)
ISBN: 978-1-80043-338-0 (Online)
ISBN: 978-1-80043-340-3 (Epub)
Dedicated to the memory of Keshav Kumar Jethani
About the Author
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, Continuum and M/C Journal.
First and foremost, I want to acknowledge my mother Pushpa and sister Nalani Jethani and thank them for their unwavering support and care. I would like to acknowledge and thank so many of my friends, colleagues, collaborators and mentors that it’s almost impossible to do here. To Scott McQuire and Robert Hassan thank you for your mentorship, guidance and constructive feedback over the many forms that this project has undertaken. To Mathan Ratinam, thank you for saying something that started me along this path many years ago. To Thibault Behan, Jo Eaton Warren Davies, Adam Lodders and Helen Grogan thanks for your friendship, advice and for all those times you randomly checked in on me while I was finishing the manuscript. To my friends, colleagues and collaborators: Dale Leorke, Luke van Ryn, Belinda Barnet, Robbie Fordyce, Luke Heemsbergen, Rowan Wilken, Anthony McCosker, Bjørn Nansen, Tom Apperley, Chris O'Neill, Kate Mannell, Jasmin Pfefferkorn, Caitlin McGrane, Fan Yang, Wendi Li, César Albarrán-Torres, Kath Albury, Larissa Hjorth, Darshana Jayemanne, Andrew Iliadis, Isabel Pedersen, Sophie Freeman, Lyell Durkin, Emily van der Nagel, Dan Golding, Trent Griffiths, Samuel Kininmonth, Danny Butt, Ruth DeSouza, Debris Facility, Chris Marmo, James Meese and Sharee Gregory. All of you in some way have helped me shape the ideas in this book and helped me grow as a scholar. This book was written in the middle of a global pandemic and during a move from Melbourne to Sydney. To my new colleagues at University of Technology Sydney: Heather Ford, Amelia Johns, Paul Byron, Ben Abraham, Francesco Bailo, Tisha Dejmanee, Natalie Krikowa, Bhuva Narayan and Alan McKee thank you for providing a supportive and afflictive work environment, especially while this book was in its final stages. To Paul Stevens, and, Jen McCall, Kimberly Chadwick, Ramya Murali and the team at Emerald, thank you for your careful and attentive stewardship of this project.
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 those that design and use self-tracking technology in order to examine how logics of datafication redefine the body. It explores what these emerging relations mean for imagining, designing and analysing the sociotechnical systems that bring about self-tracking. The book provides a genealogy of self-tracking to situate the notion 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 bodies which ‘disappear’ (Jewson) into, are made ‘docile’ (Foucault) by and get caught up in the ‘rhythms’ (Lefebvre) of 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 on the case studies of self-tracking in practice that precede, it the final chapter sketches the outlines of a mutual praxis of critique and design that facilitates the (re)imagination of the politics that are embedded into sociotechnical systems of self-tracking and considers possibilities of intervention.
- Part 1 Visions: Quantified and Quantifiable Selves
- Chapter 1 The Quantified Self
- Chapter 2 The Quantifiable Self: Precision Medicine, the Quantified All’ and the Disappearance of Body
- Part 2 Rules: The Embodied Practices of Self-Tracking
- Chapter 3 Lessons from Electronic Monitoring
- Chapter 4 Sociometry
- Part 3 The Quantised Self: Discipline and Design
- Chapter 5 The Quantised Self
- Chapter 6 Anticipating the Quantised Self in Design