Smartphone apps and the mobile privatization of health and fitness

Brad Millington

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This paper presents an in-depth study of prominent health and fitness-themed smartphone apps. Results of the study first highlight the emphasis placed on self-improvement with apps such as MyFitnessPal, as activities including exercise tracking are deemed means for achieving health and fitness goals. At the same time, and in the style of “mobile privatization,” apps connect individual users to the “outside world” as well, mainly by facilitating network ties between (and further surveillance of) like-minded consumers. This activity is said to be possible “on the go,” as apps capitalize on the portable nature of smartphone hardware. Acknowledging that these ways of “conducting conduct” might engender productive and rewarding outcomes, the paper concludes with critical reflections on the app model of service provision and its alliance with a neoliberal approach to health and fitness promotion.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)479-493
Number of pages15
JournalCritical Studies in Media Communication
Issue number5
Early online date29 Oct 2014
Publication statusPublished - 2014


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