‘A Much Better Person’: The Agential Capacities of Self-Tracking Practices

Deborah LUPTON, Gavin Smith

Research output: A Conference proceeding or a Chapter in BookChapterpeer-review


An increasing number of elements of people’s everyday lives have become quantified via their encounters and interactions with digital technologies. Many devices and software are now available for people to engage in detailed monitoring of their bodies and routines. In response to high levels of media attention to the phenomenon of ‘the quantified self’ (Lupton, 2013; Ruckenstein & Pantzar, 2017) and the expansion of the promotion of self-tracking in social domains such as medicine and public health, the workplace, the insurance industry and schools (Lupton, 2016a), a growing literature exploring the socio-cultural dimensions of self-tracking has emerged. Contributors to this scholarship (for example, Crawford, Lingel, & Karppi, 2015; Fox, 2017; Lupton, 2013; Lupton, 2016b, 2016c; Moore & Robinson, 2015; Ruckenstein & Pantzar, 2017) have identified some central themes and discourses which provide the meaning and context for these practices. They have demonstrated that the ideals of entrepreneurial selfhood, where states of empowerment are ascribed and derived from independently managing and optimising one’s health, wellbeing and physical fitness, emotional equilibrium, social relationships, financial affairs and work productivity, are central to concepts and practices of contemporary self. Indeed, they can be used as performances or (following Foucault) technologies of selfhood.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMetric Culture
Subtitle of host publicationOntologies of Self-Tracking Practices
EditorsBtihaj Ajana
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherEmerald Publishing Limited
Number of pages19
ISBN (Print)9781787432901
Publication statusPublished - 24 Sep 2018

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