My new book: The Quantified Self

My new book The Quantified Self: A Sociology of Self-Tracking is due out with Polity Press this April. The publishers are offering a 20% discount for six months (from 18 January 2016 to 31 July 2016) if it is ordered via their website. Please use the code PY703 when you order to receive the discount.

Here is a PDF of the Introduction: Lupton 2016 Introduction to The Quantified Self.

Table of Contents



1          ‘Know Thyself’: Self-tracking Practices and Technologies

2          ‘New Hybrid Beings’: Theoretical Perspectives

3          ‘An Optimal Human Being’: the Body and Self in Self-Tracking Cultures

4          ‘You are Your Data’: Personal Data Meanings, Practices and Materialisations

5          ‘Data’s Capacity for Betrayal’: Personal Data Politics





POLITY-Lupton-Quantified Self Visuals-AUG24-3 (1)


9 thoughts on “My new book: The Quantified Self

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  4. First a little personal reflection: It is Monday morning on 23rd January 2017 and I weigh myself: 12st 4 lbs and 30.1% body fat. I have (of course, as I’m male, middle class ‘worried well’) a scales that is electronic, wirelessly linked to my fitbit app on both smartphone and ipad. I am the same weight as last Monday. I have watched my weight fluctuate during the week only to return to where I started. Another week passed with no progress. In fact I have put on 5-6 lbs over the Christmas period. I have returned to wearing the fitbit after a 6 month absence in a bid to increase physical activity. This week I have, on every day, passed the 10,000 step target, and have recognised again the motivating effect of this constant tracking, as a few times I forced myself to go out for a walk on a cold January evening. The non-weight loss is disappointing to say the least. I have also recently signed up for the Public Health England’s ‘One You’ health campaign and have downloaded their drink tracker app. This shows for the past three weeks I am averaging 19 units per week including two or three drink free days. I have not tracked food intake and that has to be the next step, but as I’ve done this before I am not convinced it will do anything other than provide data. There is something else going on, I have a clue (sedentary job – cold and dark evening so not conducive to my cycling), but is not the whole story.

    I am the self tracking ‘Quantified Self’ engaged in ‘lifelogging, personal informatics, personal analytics’ and agree that these “practices, meanings, discourses and technologies associated with self-tracking are inherently and inevitable the product of broader social, cultural and political processes”. I can guess at what these broader social and political processes are but at the level of affect, I have to grapple daily with a gnawing feeling of body dissatisfaction. I think I have a handle on what the “influences, discourses, technologies and power relations and systems of thought” may be but do I have the power to resist, to feel differently or to uncover why I subject myself to this daily routine?

    I acknowledge that I have a suite of positive ‘health assets’ (Scambler 2012) which perhaps are protective – I don’t have an eating disorder for example. Yet, the feeling remains that my personal agency is structured in such as way as to experience body dissatisfaction. I don’t need or seek counselling, but it occurs to me that if I feel this way, then that may be an indication of the thoroughgoing level of ‘dis-ease’ with body prevalent in western society. With fewer health assets, might I have fallen prey to maladaptive coping as an answer to body alienation?

    For me the socio-political context is crucial, the biopolitics of it all. I contend that the ‘neoliberal imaginary’ has colonised the lifeworld of too many people. This includes the happiness and well being ‘industry’ that individualises problems and solutions (lifestyle drift) rather than seeking structural changes. The critique is a take on Fromm’s Sane Society and Marcuse’s one dimensional man. Fromm’s reversal of psychiatry is pertinent here, what if culture/society is insane? We are selling body ideals, a process speeding up with advent of the digital and quantified self?

    Finally, as an Adult nursing lecturer, what does all of this mean for my own and my colleagues education practice, and the adult field student nurses I work with?

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