From panopticon to heautopticon: A new form of surveillance introduced by quantified?self practices

Apr 1st, 2020 | By | Category: RSS Feed


In this research, we investigate whether quantified?self (QS) technologies, based on wearable technologies, enable individuals’ empowerment or lead to their disempowerment. To understand better the potential paradoxical effects of QS technologies, we adopt a critical approach by mobilising the panopticon metaphor from Foucault’s original writings and more precisely, his four core concepts, namely power, knowledge, body and space. Relying on a qualitative study that consists of the analysis of 12 interviews, 14?142 messages extracted from online forums, and 30 blogs, we explore the discourses associated with the usage of QS technologies. Our findings indicate that self?quantification has ambivalent, conflicting effects—13 empowering and 11 disempowering—spanning the dimensions of power, knowledge, body and space. Our research also shows the emergence of micro?surveillance of oneself, which we name the heautopticon. The implications of this critical research also offer possibilities for change by discussing social and individual emancipation.


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