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‘There’s only so much data you can handle in your life’: accommodating and resisting self-surveillance in women’s running and fitness tracking practices

‘There’s only so much data you can handle in your life’: accommodating and resisting... The widespread use of Fitbits, Garmins and Apple Watches is emblematic of the ‘Quantified Self’ (QS) movement, where participants utilise digital self-tracking devices to generate a broad range of data on their health and fitness for the purposes of self-improvement. Gendered expectations for beauty and health have led to women becoming disproportionately represented amongst fitness tracker wearers, as weight loss and self-discipline for the purposes of beauty are often considered women’s endeavours. To examine the gendered ways in which wearable technologies are utilised in fitness practices, I look to ‘running interviews’ and semi-structured interviews with 10 women who identify as self-tracking runners to better apprehend the ways in which self-surveillance through a fitness tracking device is both accommodated and resisted. Drawing on a Foucauldian conceptual framework of surveillance, discipline and technologies of femininity, I describe four strategies of resistance to datafication: labelling some data as excessive, not tracking every run or every day, invoking one’s humanity and fallibility as a way of limiting disappointment from unfavourable data, and re-valuing feelings over data. While these self-trackers have undergone this process of problematisation and deemed this level of self-surveillance to be an important part of what they see as a healthy lifestyle, they do not fully accept practices of dataism, optimisation and technologies of femininity, entirely. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Qualitative Research in Sport, Exercise and Health Taylor & Francis

‘There’s only so much data you can handle in your life’: accommodating and resisting self-surveillance in women’s running and fitness tracking practices

‘There’s only so much data you can handle in your life’: accommodating and resisting self-surveillance in women’s running and fitness tracking practices

Qualitative Research in Sport, Exercise and Health , Volume 12 (1): 15 – Jan 1, 2020

Abstract

The widespread use of Fitbits, Garmins and Apple Watches is emblematic of the ‘Quantified Self’ (QS) movement, where participants utilise digital self-tracking devices to generate a broad range of data on their health and fitness for the purposes of self-improvement. Gendered expectations for beauty and health have led to women becoming disproportionately represented amongst fitness tracker wearers, as weight loss and self-discipline for the purposes of beauty are often considered women’s endeavours. To examine the gendered ways in which wearable technologies are utilised in fitness practices, I look to ‘running interviews’ and semi-structured interviews with 10 women who identify as self-tracking runners to better apprehend the ways in which self-surveillance through a fitness tracking device is both accommodated and resisted. Drawing on a Foucauldian conceptual framework of surveillance, discipline and technologies of femininity, I describe four strategies of resistance to datafication: labelling some data as excessive, not tracking every run or every day, invoking one’s humanity and fallibility as a way of limiting disappointment from unfavourable data, and re-valuing feelings over data. While these self-trackers have undergone this process of problematisation and deemed this level of self-surveillance to be an important part of what they see as a healthy lifestyle, they do not fully accept practices of dataism, optimisation and technologies of femininity, entirely.

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References (48)

Publisher
Taylor & Francis
Copyright
© 2019 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group
ISSN
2159-676X
eISSN
2159-6778
DOI
10.1080/2159676X.2019.1617188
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

The widespread use of Fitbits, Garmins and Apple Watches is emblematic of the ‘Quantified Self’ (QS) movement, where participants utilise digital self-tracking devices to generate a broad range of data on their health and fitness for the purposes of self-improvement. Gendered expectations for beauty and health have led to women becoming disproportionately represented amongst fitness tracker wearers, as weight loss and self-discipline for the purposes of beauty are often considered women’s endeavours. To examine the gendered ways in which wearable technologies are utilised in fitness practices, I look to ‘running interviews’ and semi-structured interviews with 10 women who identify as self-tracking runners to better apprehend the ways in which self-surveillance through a fitness tracking device is both accommodated and resisted. Drawing on a Foucauldian conceptual framework of surveillance, discipline and technologies of femininity, I describe four strategies of resistance to datafication: labelling some data as excessive, not tracking every run or every day, invoking one’s humanity and fallibility as a way of limiting disappointment from unfavourable data, and re-valuing feelings over data. While these self-trackers have undergone this process of problematisation and deemed this level of self-surveillance to be an important part of what they see as a healthy lifestyle, they do not fully accept practices of dataism, optimisation and technologies of femininity, entirely.

Journal

Qualitative Research in Sport, Exercise and HealthTaylor & Francis

Published: Jan 1, 2020

Keywords: Quantified self; Foucault; surveillance; sociology of sport; technologies of femininity

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