Self-tracking has recently become a new area of fascination for critical social researchers. A body of literature has now been established of research that has sought to investigate the social, cultural and political dimensions of self-tracking, nearly all of which has come out in the last few years. This literature complements an established literature in human-computer interaction research (HCI), first into lifelogging and then into self-tracking (or personal informatics/analytics, as HCI researchers often call it).
I am currently working on an article that is a comprehensive review of both literatures, in the attempt to outline what each can contribute to understanding self-tracking as an ethos and a practice, and its wider sociocultural implications. Here is a reading list of the work from critical social researchers that I am aware of. I will publish a similar list of interesting HCI research in a forthcoming post.
Albrechtslund, A, and P Lauritsen, (2013) Spaces of everyday surveillance: Unfolding an analytical concept of participation, Geoforum, 49: 310-16.
Allen, AL, (2008) Dredging up the past: Lifelogging, memory, and surveillance, The University of Chicago Law Review, 75 (1): 47-74.
Barta, K, and G Neff, (2015) Technologies for sharing: lessons from Quantified Self about the political economy of platforms, Information, Communication & Society, online first.
Bode, M, and DB Kristensen, (2016) The digital doppelgänger within. In Assembling Consumption: Researching actors, networks and markets, edited by R. Canniford and D. Badje. London: Routledge, pp.
Bossewitch, J, and A Sinnreich, (2013) The end of forgetting: Strategic agency beyond the panopticon, New Media & Society, 15 (2): 224-42.
Copelton, D, (2010) Output that counts: pedometers, sociability and the contested terrain of older adult fitness walking, Sociology of Health & Illness, 32 (2): 304-18.
Crawford, K, J Lingel, and T Karppi, (2015) Our metrics, ourselves: A hundred years of self-tracking from the weight scale to the wrist wearable device, European Journal of Cultural Studies, 18 (4-5): 479-96.
Daly, A, (2015) The law and ethics of ‘self quantified’ health information: an Australian perspective, International Data Privacy Law, online first.
Dodge, M, and R Kitchin, (2007) ‘Outlines of a world coming into existence’: pervasive computing and the ethics of forgetting, Environment and Planning B: Planning & Design, 34 (3): 431-45.
Drew, DL, and JM Gore, (2014) Measuring up? The discursive construction of student subjectivities in the Global Children’s Challenge™, Sport, Education and Society, online first.
Fiore-Gartland, B, and G Neff, (2015) Communication, mediation, and the expectations of data: data valences across health and wellness communities, International Journal of Communication, 9: 1466-84.
Fox, NJ, (2015) Personal health technologies, micropolitics and resistance: a new materialist analysis, Health:, online first.
Gardner, P, and B Jenkins, (2015) Bodily intra-actions with biometric devices, Body & Society, online first.
Gerlitz, C, and C Lury, (2014) Social media and self-evaluating assemblages: on numbers, orderings and values, Distinktion: Scandinavian Journal of Social Theory, 15 (2): 174-88.
Gilmore, JN, (2015) Everywear: The quantified self and wearable fitness technologies, New Media & Society, online first.
Jethani, S, (2015) Mediating the body: Technology, politics and epistemologies of self, Communication, Politics & Culture, 47 (3): 34-43.
Klauser, FR, and A Albrechtslund, (2014) From self-tracking to smart urban infrastructures: towards an interdisciplinary research agenda on Big Data, Surveillance & Society, 12 (2): 273-86.
Lomborg, S, and K Frandsen, (2015) Self-tracking as communication, Information, Communication & Society: 1-13.
Lupton, D, (2012) M-health and health promotion: the digital cyborg and surveillance society, Social Theory & Health, 10 (3): 229-44.
Lupton, D, (2013a) The digitally engaged patient: self-monitoring and self-care in the digital health era, Social Theory & Health, 11 (3): 256-70.
Lupton, D, (2013b) Quantifying the body: monitoring and measuring health in the age of mHealth technologies, Critical Public Health, 23 (4): 393-403.
Lupton, D, (2013c) Understanding the human machine, IEEE Technology & Society Magazine, 32 (4): 25-30.
Lupton, D, (2014a) The commodification of patient opinion: the digital patient experience economy in the age of big data, Sociology of Health & Illness, 36 (6): 856-69.
Lupton, D, (2014b) Self-tracking cultures: towards a sociology of personal informatics. In Proceedings of the 26th Australian Computer-Human Interaction Conference (OzCHI ’14). Sydney: ACM Press.
Lupton, D. (2014c) Self-tracking modes: reflexive self-monitoring and data practices. Social Science Research Network, http://ssrn.com/abstract=2483549 (accessed 27 August 2014).
Lupton, D. (2014d) You are your data: self-tracking practices and concepts of data. Social Science Research Network, http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2534211 (accessed 12 December 2015).
Lupton, D, (2015a) Data assemblages, sentient schools and digitised health and physical education (response to Gard), Sport, Education and Society, 20 (1): 122-32.
Lupton, D. (2015b) Lively data, social fitness and biovalue: the intersections of health self-tracking and social media. Social Science Research Network, http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2666324 (accessed 13 November 2015).
Lupton, D. (2015c) Personal data practices in the age of lively data. Social Science Research Network, http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2636709 (accessed 15 August 2015).
Lupton, D, (2015d) Quantified sex: a critical analysis of sexual and reproductive self-tracking using apps, Culture, Health & Sexuality, 17 (4): 440-53.
Lupton, D, (2016a) The diverse domains of quantified selves: self-tracking modes and dataveillance, Economy and Society, in press.
Lupton, D, (2016b) The Quantified Self: A Sociology of Self-Tracking Cultures. Cambridge: Polity Press.
Lynch, R, and S Cohn, (2015) In the loop: Practices of self-monitoring from accounts by trial participants, Health:, online first.
Millington, B, (2015) ‘Quantify the Invisible’: notes toward a future of posture, Critical Public Health, online first.
Moore, P, and A Robinson, (2015) The quantified self: What counts in the neoliberal workplace, New Media & Society, online first.
Nafus, D, (2013) The data economy of biosensors. In Sensor Technologies: Healthcare, Wellness and Environmental Applications, edited by M. McGrath and C. N. Scanaill: Springer.
Nafus, D, (2014) Stuck data, dead data, and disloyal data: the stops and starts in making numbers into social practices, Distinktion: Scandinavian Journal of Social Theory, 15 (2): 208-22.
Nafus, D, and J Sherman, (2014) This one does not go up to 11: the Quantified Self movement as an alternative big data practice, International Journal of Communication, 8: 1785-94.
Neff, G, and D Nafus, (2016) Self-Tracking. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.
Niva, M, (2015) Online weight-loss services and a calculative practice of slimming, Health:, online first.
Pantzar, M, and M Ruckenstein, (2015) The heart of everyday analytics: emotional, material and practical extensions in self-tracking market, Consumption Markets & Culture, 18 (1): 92-109.
Reigeluth, TB, (2014) Why data is not enough: digital traces as control of self and self-control, Surveillance & Society, 12 (2): 243-54.
Rettberg, JW, (2014) Seeing Ourselves Through Technology: How We Use Selfies, Blogs and Wearable Devices to See and Shape Ourselves. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
Ruckenstein, M, (2014) Visualized and interacted life: personal analytics and engagements with data doubles, Societies, 4 (1): 68-84.
Ruckenstein, M, (2015) Uncovering everyday rhythms and patterns: food tracking and new forms of visibility and temporality in health care. In Techno-Anthropology in Health Informatics, edited by L. Botin, C. Nohr and P. Bertelsen. Amsterdam: IOS Press, pp. 28-40.
Ruckenstein, M, and M Pantzar, (2015a) Beyond the Quantified Self: thematic exploration of a dataistic paradigm, New Media & Society, online first.
Ruckenstein, M, and M Pantzar, (2015b) Datafied life: techno-anthropology as a site for exploration and experimentation, Techne, 19 (2): 191-210.
Sellen, AJ, and S Whittaker, (2010) Beyond total capture: a constructive critique of lifelogging, Communications of the ACM, 53 (5): 70-77.
Smith, WR, (2015) Communication, sportsmanship, and negotiating ethical conduct on the digital playing field, Communication & Sport, earlyview online.
Stragier, J, T Evens, and P Mechant, (2015) Broadcast yourself: an exploratory study of sharing physical activity on social networking sites, Media International Australia, 155 (1): 120-29.
Thomas, GM, and D Lupton, (2015) Threats and thrills: pregnancy apps, risk and consumption, Health, Risk & Society, online first.
Till, C, (2014) Exercise as labour: Quantified Self and the transformation of exercise into labour, Societies, 4 (3): 446-62.
Van Den Eede, Y, (2015) Tracing the tracker: a postphenomenological inquiry into self-tracking technologies. In Postphenomenological Investigations: Essays on Human–Technology Relations, edited by R. Rosenberger and P.-P. Verbeek. Lanham, Maryland: Lexington Books, pp. 143-58.
Whitson, J, (2013) Gaming the quantified self, Surveillance & Society, 11 (1/2): 163-76.
Wilkinson, J, C Roberts, and M Mort, (2015) Ovulation monitoring and reproductive heterosex: living the conceptive imperative?, Culture, Health & Sexuality, 17 (4): 454-69.
Williamson, B, (2015) Algorithmic skin: health-tracking technologies, personal analytics and the biopedagogies of digitized health and physical education, Sport, Education and Society, 20 (1): 133-51.
Yang, Y, (2014) Saving the Quantified Self: How we come to know ourselves now, Boom: A Journal of California, 4 (4): 80-87.
Thanks for sharing this! It is a very fascinating and actual topic. It may be slightly out of your track, but you might be interested in Foucault (Technologies of the self, chapter 2 in Martin eds, 1988), where knowing yourself and taking care of your self take very different meanings, with the second one progressively medicalised. His conception of taking care of ourselves is conceived in terms of daily practices as well as being concerned with our own body.
It could be a tangent for your literature review but it may have an influence on you theoretical framework!
Absolutely – Foucault’s work is very important to my theorising of self-tracking – lots of his work in my Quantified Self book and other pieces. I’ve been a staunch Foucauldian my entire career …
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