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Durham Research Online
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On the body of the consumer : performance-seeking with wearables and health and fitness apps.

Hardey, M (2019) 'On the body of the consumer : performance-seeking with wearables and health and fitness apps.', Sociology of Health and Illness .


Contributing to critical digital health research and the sociology of health consumption, this study investigates the phenomenon of self‐tracking and interpretation of consumer data via wearable technology and mobile fitness software applications (apps). It critically analyses qualitative data collected from members of running communities in the UK who are heavy users of apps and wearables. The study seeks to understand the meaning and practise of long‐term use of apps and wearables targeted at consumers interested in tracking fitness, and the collection of personal health information over time. The paper offers an interpretative perspective on runners as performance‐seeking fitness consumers engaged in long‐term self‐management of health. These consumers are driven by a profound motivation to visualise and embody a long‐term state of fitness. Participants were also hyper‐aware of advertising and promotional methods used to engage consumers. The findings raise concerns about the validity of personal fitness data, and how its collection promises improved personal health while visually promoting sought‐after fit bodies. Further research is required to understand the transformative impact of fitness‐tracking and how individuals negotiate personal classifications of health.

Item Type:Article
Full text:(AM) Accepted Manuscript
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Date accepted:05 October 2018
Date deposited:07 June 2019
Date of first online publication:04 March 2019
Date first made open access:04 March 2020

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