Infrastructuring home blood pressure monitoring
(University of Sheffield)
Catherine Will (University of Sussex)
Paper short abstract:
This paper pursues the notion of ‘infrastructure’ to consider the mundane work of self-monitoring, drawing on the case of home blood pressure monitors. We aim to explore the invisible and sometimes tentative arrangements of people and things involved in consumer-based self-monitoring as practice.
Paper long abstract:
The growing market in consumer devices for monitoring health means that technologies that were once the preserve of the clinic are moving into everyday spaces. We consider the domestic life of one such device, blood pressure monitors, which can be purchased in the UK from a range of high street shops and online stores. We are interested in the way these devices come to be integrated into everyday life and the range of people, things and spaces this involves. In our analysis we pursue the concept of 'infrastructure' to consider the socio-material arrangements that enable the work of self-monitoring. We draw on observations and interviews with around 30 people who have bought or used a consumer blood pressure monitor.
Our analysis pays attention to who and what is involved, for example, who buys the device, who uses it or helps with using it, who keeps records, and who is consulted. We found that although self-monitoring is ostensibly an individual endeavour, it may take work by a lot of people to make a device act. We also engage with the material aspects of self-monitoring, for example considering the emplacement of devices and how they are linked to other objects in the domestic context. We are interested in the way these might prompt use or stage devices out of use, as well as the meanings of monitoring in different spaces eg the bathroom or sitting room. The analysis helps keep in view the range of people and things involved in embedding self-monitoring.
Everyday analytics: The politics and practices of self-monitoring