In recent years there has been a rapid growth in mobile health apps that relate to physical activity and lifestyle. Such apps, which allow users to track their exercise behaviour, body weight, and food consumption, represent a significant proportion of the health app market. How are we negotiating our health through these apps? What are we learning about our bodies and health through these new technologies? Rapid transformations in digital platforms have provided mechanisms of surveillance of our bodies and ways to track, monitor and modify our bodies, through the reduction of often complex issues to ‘simple data’ such as Body Mass Index. The promotion of healthy behaviours through mobile apps has intensified processes of surveillance and regulation of people’s everyday lives, raising a number of questions about their applications. Addressing some of these questions, Andy Miah (@andymiah) and I have just had an article published on critical digital health ‘Understanding Digital Health as Public Pedagogy: A Critical Framework’. This paper is part of a special issue of ‘Societies‘ (an international peer-reviewed, open access journal of sociology) guest edited by Deborah Lupton (@DALupton) – ‘Beyond Techno-Utopia: Critical Approaches to Digital Health Technologies’.
The abstract of the article is posted below and you can read the full open access article here.
Understanding Digital Health as Public Pedagogy: A Critical Framework
Emma Rich, University of Bath (@emmarich45, E.Rich@bath.ac.uk)
Andy Miah, University of West of Scotland (@andymiah, firstname.lastname@example.org)
Abstract: This paper argues on behalf of a public pedagogy approach to developing a critical understanding of digital health technologies. It begins by appraising the hitherto polarised articulations of digital innovation as either techno-utopian or techno-dystopian, examining these expectations of technology and considering the tensions between them. It subsequently outlines how a public pedagogy approach can help mediate between these views, offering a more contextualised, socio-political perspective of mHealth. This approach teases out the nuances of digital health by engaging with the complexities of embodied learning. Furthermore, it urges caution against viewing these pedagogical forces as one of transference, or simple governance. To this end, we therefore contextualise our critique of digital health, within an attempt to reconstitute an understanding of public pedagogies of technology.
Keywords: public pedagogy; mobile health; mHealth; digital health; body; prosthetics; technology; learning