Eryk Noji, Karolin Kappler & Uwe Vormbusch: Situating Conventions of Health: Transformations, Inaccuracies, and the Limits of Measuring in the Field of Self-Tracking. [Abstract]

How is doing health transformed into a measurable entity? Based on empirical research, we will analyze relevant aspects of quantifying health in two distinct fields: diet and mood-tracking. From the perspective of the economics of convention, self-trackers within these fields are investing in new forms and measures of equivalence for how health can be measured and handled. In doing so, they are confronting three main obstacles: the inaccuracy of measuring, the cumbersome materiality of objects and everyday practice, and the fuzzy relation of everyday doings and measuring. On the one hand, self-trackers are striving for practical consent over what an “accurate” measuring looks like and in what cases inaccuracy can respectively not be tolerated. On the other hand, self-trackers draw on varying criteria for adequate accuracy depending on how they practically integrate their tracking practices into everyday life. In the economics of convention, objects are granted a vital role, supporting competent everyday actors in their coordination efforts as well as tackling normative and ethical issues. We suggest that technologies such as sensors, mHealth applications, and smartphones are involved in everyday practices as intermediate objects in varying engagements and negotiation processes. In both fields of self-tracking, quite a unique configuration of measuring, objects, resistiveness, and engagements (Thévenot 2002, 2014) emerges, making present conventions of health evasive and fragmented, and still quite unavailable to health organizations, policy makers, and users alike.

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