Tracking the Therapeutic (2015-2019)

Body Optimization

Technology-Mediated Body Optimization and the Organisation of Selves

Harley Bergroth

In this project I investigate practices and experiences of technology-mediated body optimization in everyday lives of Finnish research participants. In the first phase of my research, I am mostly interested in the use of near-body digital devices and applications used for collecting data about one’s bodily performance and one’s life in general, and self-tracking practices as a way to make sense of one’s self and improve or adjust one’s physical and social being. By drawing from embodied sociology, cultural studies and STS, I investigate the sociotechnical linkages between technology-mediated self optimization, therapeutic culture, and late capitalist body politics, and look into the lived experiences of research participants in order to shed light on how these body optimization practices are connected to self-making and the persistence of – or possible resistance against – social inequalities. My data consists of interviews as well as observations in related events, online, and among people employing body optimization technologies. Since April 2015 I have also conducted autoethnography with self-tracking devices.