Digital technologies and the biomedicalisation of everyday activities: The case of walking and cycling

Ranging from mapping apps for wayfinding, to activity-monitoring 'wearables', to social media apps that compare activity within social groups, digital technologies have transformed walking and cycling. While some of these technologies are focused on health projects, and some have a different focus, all of them have the potential for significant effects on understandings of health, on health-oriented identities, and on bodies. With a focus on walking and cycling, this paper explores emerging literature on the intersection of digital technologies with everyday mobility, using the concept of biomedicalization. Following are some of the ways that digital technologies contribute to various transformations of health, beyond simply 'medicalizing' mobility, which is to say, bringing it into the realm of public health: (1) encouraging some health practices while inhibiting others; (2) creating or excluding individual and collective health-related identities; and (3) reconfiguring health and well-being. Research evidence exists regarding the contingent and varied relationships between digital technologies and social practices, with specific themes that include quantification; the role that apps play in portraying walking as extraordinary and cycling as competitive; enabling users to function as health, neoliberal citizens; and the promotion of digital careers. The ways in which the mediation of mobility through digital technologies has reproduced or disrupted social divisions has received less attention. The impact of digital technologies on political economies of health should be considered by future research.


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  • Accession Number: 01682088
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Jul 20 2018 3:07PM