Episodic use: Practices of care in self-tracking

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

The development of self-tracking technologies has resulted in a burst of research considering how self-tracking practices manifest themselves in everyday life. Based on a 5-month-long photo elicitation study of Danish self-trackers, we argue that no matter how committed people might be to tracking their activities, their use of self-tracking technologies can be best described as episodic rather than continuous. Using Annemarie Mol’s theoretical framework for understanding care practices as a lens, we show how episodic use can be interpreted through the logic of care. By using self-tracking devices episodically, users employ strategies of care in a way that can be productive and useful. These strategies often come in conflict with the logics of choice that underlie the design of many self-tracking technologies. We argue that this has consequences for the way self-tracking devices need to be imagined, designed, and introduced as part of workplace and insurance-type tracking programs.

Original languageEnglish
JournalNew Media and Society
Issue number11-12
Pages (from-to)2505-2521
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2019
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank our participants for sharing their experiences with us and the two anonymous reviewers for constructive feedback and comments. We would also like to thank the IT University of Copenhagen for supporting the study. The author(s) received no financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article.

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2019.

    Research areas

  • Digital technologies, human-technology interactions, logic of care, photo elicitation method, self-tracking, self-tracking in everyday life

ID: 303705945