Surveillance Entanglements: Digital Data Flows and Ageing Bodies in Motion in the Danish Welfare State

Nete Schwennesen

Abstract


In recent years, new forms of self-tracking technologies, advanced algorithms and quantified measurements have increasingly become part of interventions targeting the physical improvement of elderly bodies. This has led authors to argue that the latter are not just ‘busy’ bodies (Katz 2000) but ‘busier and smarter bodies,’ as well as being nodes for data collection, monitoring and surveillance designed to promote physical functioning (Katz and Marshall 2018). The article qualifies the argument by examining concrete encounters in which frail elderly bodies are made to move and transform in digital rehabilitation programs in the Danish welfare state. The study mobilizes Bennett’s (2009) notion of the ‘vitality of materiality’ as an analytic lens, thus highlighting the agentic capacities of technologies and the fleshy-sensual, lively force of the body itself. Drawing on ethnographic material, the article traces how movement is impacted by the links and forces generated by a specific digital rehabilitation assemblage. This emphasizes the fluidity of relational connections between bodies and digital dataflows, meanwhile demonstrating that the vital force of the aging body is expressed through sensory pain when the temporality of the metrics and the rate of bodily recovery are out of alignment. In contrast to studies focusing on surveillance as a pre-given disciplining force, the vital materialism approach invites us to think about surveillance as a vibrant, open-ended and temporally specific process whose outcome is not predetermined. Finally, it is argued that, to develop processes leading to bodily restoration rather than disruption, greater attention to sensory expression is needed – among professionals, IT workers and the elderly alike – combined with a willingness to adjust the assemblage continually to align metrics with rates of bodily recovery.


Keywords


self-tracking; algorithm; physical rehabilitation; ageing; surveillance; assemblage; vital materialism

Full Text:

PDF

References


Barad, Karen. Meeting the universe halfway: Quantum physics and the entanglement of matter and meaning. Durham: Duke University Press, 2007.

Beer, David. Metric power. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016.

Bennett, Jane. Vibrant matter: A political ecology of things. Durham: Duke University Press, 2010.

---. "The agency of assemblages and the North American blackout." (2005).

---. "The force of things: Steps toward an ecology of matter." Political theory 32.3 (2004): 347-372.

Brigden T, Blackburn L., Cook S. & Hall A. Citizen generated data: The ethics of remote patient monitoring (2019). Available at http://www.phgfoundation.org/documents/cgd-ethics-briefing.pdf (accessed 15 June 2019)

Danish Government. Strategy for digital welfare 2013-2020. Available at http://www.digst.dk/Ser

vicemenu/English/Policy-and-Strategy/Strategy-for-Digital-Welfare (accessed 27 January 2018).

Deleuze, Gilles, and Félix Guattari. "Capitalism and schizophrenia: A thousand plateaus." Trans. Brian Massumi. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press (1987).

Feynman, Richard. (1970). The Feynman Lectures on Physics Vol I. Addison Wesley.

Foucault M. The birth of the clinic, London: Routledge (1973)

Haraway, Donna. "Situated knowledges: The science question in feminism and the privilege of partial perspective." Feminist studies 14.3 (1988): 575-599.

---. When species meet. Vol. 3. U of Minnesota Press, 2013.

Jovanov, Emil, et al. "A wireless body area network of intelligent motion sensors for computer assisted physical rehabilitation." Journal of NeuroEngineering and rehabilitation 2.1 (2005): 6.

Katz, Stephen. "Busy bodies: Activity, aging, and the management of everyday life." Journal of aging studies 14.2 (2000): 135-152.

Katz, Stephen, and Barbara L. Marshall. "Tracked and fit: FitBits, brain games, and the quantified aging body." Journal of aging studies 45 (2018): 63-68.

Khan, Gulshan. "Agency, nature and emergent properties: An interview with Jane Bennett." Contemporary Political Theory 8.1 (2009): 90-105.

Latour, B. (2005). Reassembling the social: An introduction to actor-network-theory (Clarendon Lectures in Management Studies).

Lefebvre, Henri. Rhythmanalysis: Space, time and everyday life. A&C Black, 2004.

Lomborg, Stine, Nanna Bonde Thylstrup, and Julie Schwartz. "The temporal flows of self-tracking: Checking in, moving on, staying hooked." New Media & Society 20.12 (2018): 4590-4607.

Mauss, Marcel. The gift: The form and reason for exchange in archaic societies. New York: WW Norton & Company, 2000.

Martin, A., Myers, N., & Viseu, A. (2015). The politics of care in technoscience. Social Studies of Science, 45(5), 625-641.

Oxlund, Bjarke, and Susan Reynolds Whyte. "Measuring and managing bodies in the later life course." Journal of Population Aging 7.3 (2014): 217-230.

Schüll, Natasha Dow. "Data for life: Wearable technology and the design of self-care." BioSocieties 11.3 (2016): 317-333.

Schwennesen, Nete. "When self-tracking enters physical rehabilitation: From ‘pushed’ self-tracking to ongoing affective encounters in arrangements of care." Digital health 3 (2017): 2055207617725231.

Struhkamp, Rita, Annemarie Mol, and Tsjalling Swierstra. "Dealing with in/dependence: doctoring in physical rehabilitation practice." Science, Technology, & Human Values 34.1 (2009): 55-76.

Thaler, Richard H., and Cass R. Sunstein. "Nudge: improving decisions about health." Wealth, and Happiness 6 (2008).

Tsing, Anna Lowenhaupt. Friction: An ethnography of global connection. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2011.

Van Den Eede Y. 2015. Tracing the tracker: a postphenomenological inquiry into self-tracking technologies. In Postphenomenological Investigations: Essays on Human-Technology Relations, ed. R Rosenberger, P-P Verbeek, pp. 143–58. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books.




DOI: https://doi.org/10.5195/aa.2019.224

Refbacks

  • There are currently no refbacks.




Copyright (c) 2019 Nete Schwennesen

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

SaveSaveSaveSave