Vital Materialism and the Thing-Power of Lively Digital Data

Chapter to be published in Social Theory, Health and Education, edited by Deana Leahy, Katie Fitzpatrick and Jan Wright, to be published by Routledge, London, Forthcoming

8 Pages Posted: 18 May 2018  

Deborah Lupton

University of Canberra

Date Written: May 4, 2018

Abstract

In this chapter, I take up the vital materialism perspective, particularly as it is used in political theorist Jane Bennett’s scholarship, to discuss the entanglements of digital data with humans and the work of sense-making. I emphasise the importance of understanding how digital data about human bodies work to generate new knowledges and the implications of this for how people learn about their bodies, including states of health and illness. To demonstrate how vital materialism can be applied to empirical research material as an analytical lens, I will use a vignette from my empirical research on people who use digital devices to engage in self-tracking of their bodies. I focus in my analysis on illustrating how vital materialist theory can provide insights into how and why people take up self-tracking practices for health-related purposes and how they learn from their data.

Keywords: digital data; vital materialism; thing-power; lively data; self-tracking; quantified self; vignette

Suggested Citation

Lupton, Deborah, Vital Materialism and the Thing-Power of Lively Digital Data (May 4, 2018). Chapter to be published in Social Theory, Health and Education, edited by Deana Leahy, Katie Fitzpatrick and Jan Wright, to be published by Routledge, London, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3173470

Deborah Lupton (Contact Author)

University of Canberra ( email )

University of Canberra
Bruce, ACT 2601
Australia
61261663437 (Phone)

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