The Quantification of Bodies in Health: Multidisciplinary Perspectives

Btihaj Ajana, Joaquim Braga & Simone Guidi (2021)

Bingley: Emerald Publishers.

Extract from the Introduction (p. 1-12): “But often, consciously or unconsciously, one tends to be ‘oriented’ towards particular norms or conventions that are not wholly self-generated but originating from external sources and standardised measures – for instance, the recommendation to eat five vegetables or fruits a day and walk 10,000 steps per day which became the baseline for healthy active lifestyle. A similar argument could be made vis-à-vis the design of self-tracking devices and apps, which is mostly decided by technology companies themselves who introduce and embed new standards and categories which determine what is measured and why (Cappel, 2021, p. 240). As Diaz-Bone (2021, p. 305) postulates: ‘The categories (and algorithms) have been implemented by technology companies and the resulting categories and data are in many cases neither controlled nor understood by users or adopted to their health practices and their health situation. The underlying measurement conventions are invisible for users and in case the data is transferred to the provider of the app, there is also an informational asymmetry in data analysis and its economical exploitation.’ Herein lies one of the challenges and limits of contemporary forms of digital body quantification and self-tracking. Despite the promise of individual autonomy and agency, users are still bound by the design choices of product developers, by existing norms around health and by the market forces of data capitalism.” (p. 6)

Lien / Link