Episodic use: Practices of care in self-tracking

Nanna Gorm, Irina Shklovski

Research output: Journal Article or Conference Article in JournalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


The development of self-tracking technologies has resulted in a burst of research considering how self-tracking practices manifest themselves in everyday life. Based on a 5-month-long photo elicitation study of Danish self-trackers, we argue that no matter how committed people might be to tracking their activities, their use of self-tracking technologies can be best described as episodic rather than continuous. Using Annemarie Mol’s theoretical framework for understanding care practices as a lens, we show how episodic use can be interpreted through the logic of care. By using self-tracking devices episodically, users employ strategies of care in a way that can be productive and useful. These strategies often come in conflict with the logics of choice that underlie the design of many self-tracking technologies. We argue that this has consequences for the way self-tracking devices need to be imagined, designed, and introduced as part of workplace and insurance-type tracking programs.
Original languageEnglish
JournalNew Media & Society
Issue number11-12
Pages (from-to)2505-2521
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • self-tracking
  • care
  • photo-elicitation
  • episodic use


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