Apps as artefacts: towards a critical perspective on mobile health and medical apps

Deborah Lupton

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    Abstract

    Although over 100,000 health and medical mobile apps have been placed on the market, few critical social analyses have been yet undertaken of the role of these apps in healthcare, preventive health and health promotion. In this article I present an argument for approaching the study of mobile apps as sociocultural artefacts, focusing specifically on those that have been developed on health and medical topics. This perspective acknowledges that apps are digital objects that are the products of human decision-making, underpinned by tacit assumptions, norms and discourses already circulating in the social and cultural contexts in which they are generated, marketed and used. First, I provide the context, by discussing the gradual digitisation of health and medical information since the advent of the Internet and the emergence of health and medical apps as one of the latest developments. Second, I discuss how a critical perspective may be employed to analyse the social, cultural and political dimensions of health and medical apps. Finally I illustrate how such an approach may be applied by giving a case study of an analysis of the top 10 ranked health and medical apps on the Apple App Store on one day, outlining some major themes and discourses that emerge.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)606-622
    Number of pages17
    JournalSocieties
    Volume4
    Issue number4
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2014

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    abstract = "Although over 100,000 health and medical mobile apps have been placed on the market, few critical social analyses have been yet undertaken of the role of these apps in healthcare, preventive health and health promotion. In this article I present an argument for approaching the study of mobile apps as sociocultural artefacts, focusing specifically on those that have been developed on health and medical topics. This perspective acknowledges that apps are digital objects that are the products of human decision-making, underpinned by tacit assumptions, norms and discourses already circulating in the social and cultural contexts in which they are generated, marketed and used. First, I provide the context, by discussing the gradual digitisation of health and medical information since the advent of the Internet and the emergence of health and medical apps as one of the latest developments. Second, I discuss how a critical perspective may be employed to analyse the social, cultural and political dimensions of health and medical apps. Finally I illustrate how such an approach may be applied by giving a case study of an analysis of the top 10 ranked health and medical apps on the Apple App Store on one day, outlining some major themes and discourses that emerge.",
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    Apps as artefacts: towards a critical perspective on mobile health and medical apps. / Lupton, Deborah.

    In: Societies, Vol. 4, No. 4, 2014, p. 606-622.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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    AU - Lupton, Deborah

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    AB - Although over 100,000 health and medical mobile apps have been placed on the market, few critical social analyses have been yet undertaken of the role of these apps in healthcare, preventive health and health promotion. In this article I present an argument for approaching the study of mobile apps as sociocultural artefacts, focusing specifically on those that have been developed on health and medical topics. This perspective acknowledges that apps are digital objects that are the products of human decision-making, underpinned by tacit assumptions, norms and discourses already circulating in the social and cultural contexts in which they are generated, marketed and used. First, I provide the context, by discussing the gradual digitisation of health and medical information since the advent of the Internet and the emergence of health and medical apps as one of the latest developments. Second, I discuss how a critical perspective may be employed to analyse the social, cultural and political dimensions of health and medical apps. Finally I illustrate how such an approach may be applied by giving a case study of an analysis of the top 10 ranked health and medical apps on the Apple App Store on one day, outlining some major themes and discourses that emerge.

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