Barbara L. Marshall - Our Fitbits, our (aging) selves? Wearables, self-tracking and embodied aging

Published: Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Watch our seminar series talk on "Our Fitbits, our (aging) selves? Wearables, self-tracking and embodied aging" by Barbara Marshall, professor at Trent University.

With physical activity now promoted as key to the prevention of many age-related problems, and as inactivity becomes framed as irresponsible, the market for devices to both measure and motivate activity has expanded. While research in the biomedical and exercise sciences focuses on how self-tracking devices can enhance interventions aimed at behavior modification with older adults, Barbara Marshall draws on interviews with older users to argue that we need to attend more carefully to how the data produced by self-tracking circulates through the networks of technologies, relationships and regimes of expertise that are embedded in everyday social worlds.

Watch the video:


Barbara Marshall joined the Sociology department at Trent in 1989, shortly after completing her Ph.D. at the University of Alberta. She has taught a wide range of courses, and is a former Chair of both Women’s Studies and Sociology.  In 2006, she was honoured with Trent’s Distinguished Research Award.  She has authored and co-authored/co-edited a range of books and articles on gender, feminist theory, aging, sexuality, bodies and biomedicine (including a series of articles with colleague Stephen Katz).  Her most recent research program -- entitled “Sexualizing the Third Age” -- was funded by the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada. Situated at the intersection of aging studies, feminist studies and science and technology studies, it cast a critical feminist eye on the discourses, imagery and technologies of ‘successful aging’. Ongoing projects include a socio-historical analysis of the construction of gender and sexual difference in biomedical accounts of aging, and a critique of the ‘heterosexual imaginary’ that frames ‘third age’ cultural representations.  A new project is exploring quantification and self-tracking in aging populations.