Wearable Devices: Sociotechnical Imaginaries and Agential Capacities
Preprint of chapter for publication in Embodied Technology: Wearables, Implantables, Embeddables, Ingestibles, edited by Isabel Pedersen and Andrew Iliadis, MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, Forthcoming
12 Pages Posted: 11 Dec 2017
Date Written: December 7, 2017
In this chapter, I address the sociocultural dimensions of wearable devices: small, lightweight technologies that can be readily placed on human bodies as they move around in time and space. I adopt a feminist materialism perspective to examine how the promises and affordances of wearable devices are articulated in sociotechnical imaginaries, and are animated or closed off via agential capacities. I discuss the ways in which wearables come to matter in people’s lives; or alternatively, fail to engage users and realise their agential capacities. I begin with outlining the sociotechnical imaginaries that are frequently employed in public forums to give meaning to wearable devices. I go on to review research that has investigated the lived experiences of using wearables, identifying the agential capacities and affects that are central to these experiences. The discussion then moves to the lively data generated by these devices, and how people make sense of their personal information. The concluding section summarises the major arguments developed in the chapter and outlines directions for further research.
Keywords: wearable devices, wearables, digital technologies, digital sociology, embodiment, new media
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