Department of European Ethnology and Cultural Anthropology
„Move!“ An ethnographic account of the usage of digital fitness tracking devices and fitness tracking apps.
The PhD project is dealing with the usage of digital fitness tracking devices and apps from an ethnographic perspective. Along with the continuously rising influence of digital information and communication technologies, fitness tracking is deeply embedded in everyday media practices. The usage of fitness tracking devices and apps allows individuals to collect data of their daily movements. Wristbands, smartwatches or smartphone apps enable individuals to count and measure steps, distances run, calories or the durance of sleep. These technologies can be defined as tools for motivation and optimization and therefore refer to the Quantified Self movement and its slogan „self-knowledge through numbers“.
The close interlinkedness of digital technology, the body and physical activities of the research area opens up different fields of interest. The chosen approach aims to give insights into individuals’ fitness tracking practices from an actor-centered perspective. Furthermore, the project focuses on the goals, reasons (individual and societal), and imaginations linked to these technologies and aims to contextualize the meaning of self-tracking in the age of the „entrepreneurial self“ (Bröckling).
A set of methods is assigned to answer the outlined questions of the research project. The empirical part will consist of an autoethnographic self-experiment, interviews with users of digital fitness tracking devices and apps and (participant) observations. Artefacts like photographs, videos, or posts published in social media services are conceived as part of everyday fitness tracking practices and are therefore also taken into account.
Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Katharina Eisch-Angus