Department of Sociology


15-16 November, 2017, University of Sussex, Brighton

Day One

Wednesday 15 November 2017

12:00               Lunch

13:00               Introduction 


Jeanette Pols, University of Amsterdam

Self tracking, good for you?

One of the conceptual tools for policy makers in the west to imagine a retreating welfare state is the notion of self management. Individuals should manage their own health and the health of those near and dear in order to alleviate the pressure on professional caregivers. This would make care more efficient and of higher quality, as, so the policy makers argue, self management is what people want. This is food for sociologists who critically point at the neo-liberalism or reflexive modernization (Back, Giddens & Lash, 1994), ‘in which subject become increasingly individualized, introspective, and responsible for the project of crafting their own self-identities.’ However, this critique may be to uni-sono, as it ignores alternative readings of practices and individuals, and does not leave much room for questions about alternative ways to imagine the future.

In this presentation I will discuss a particular branch on the self management tree: self tracking, or self quantification, using an empirical ethics approach that studies ‘the good’ in practice. By using health apps to measure and analyse data about ‘what we do’ and to what end (Cohn 2016), the optimistic idea is that individuals can –and will- change their life styles. Health is on offer one simply cannot refuse.

But what kind of ‘ethico-psychological subjects’ emerge in actual practices of self-tracking? The ethico-psychological subject gets a description in terms of how it acts as well as is made to act. It is a ‘subject explained through outer factors (as an object of the life sciences), but also an object actively shaping itself (as in the humanities). How do people make sense of numbers, and how do numbers make sense of them? The dream of the prevention optimists will not hold, but vistas are opened up on the variety of ways in which people may live with self-tract quantifications.

14:30         Panel 1: Displacing care, experiencing cuts
  • Platon Tinios, Athens 
    Bench marking long term care in Europe 
  • Jenny M.Bergschöld, Norwegian University of Science and Technology
    Practices of making time in homecare: Time, work, and technology in times of austerity
  • Ellen Stewart, University of Edinburgh
    How does a hospital mean? Understanding community responses to hospital closures as place-making 

16:00               Tea/Coffee

16:30          Panel 2: The self-caring citizen – participation and new civic virtues
  • Iyo Vassiliev, University of Southampton
    The articulation of neoliberalism: narratives of experience of chronic illness management in Bulgaria and the UK
  • Kate Weiner, Ros Williams and Flis Henwood, University of Sheffield
    Self-monitoring imaginaries: Exploring identities within the policy futures of self-monitoring in the UK’s public healthcare system
  • Nete Schwennesen, University of Copenhagen
    When self tracking moves to physical rehabilitation
  • Heerings, M., van de Bovenkamp, H. & Bal, R., University of Rotterdam
    From burden of treatment to burden of care: the case of people with Serious Mental Illness

18:00               *Close*

20:00               Dinner in Brighton

Day Two
Thursday 16 November 2017

09:00       Keynote

Brit Ross Winthereik, University of Copenhagen
The assiduous patient as infrastructure of health care systems

A Dutch team of governance scholars have defined current problems in the public sector as ‘wicked’. ‘Wicked problems’ are problems with a high degree of complexity like how to best share the responsibilities for patient care across institutional and professional boundaries. STS and CSCW have been thinking about patient work as part of health care infrastructures for more than a decade. How to think about new public governance through the lens of patients as part of health care’s infrastructures?

In my talk, I revisit previous work on patients who are enrolled as partners and compare with more recent work on digitalized citizen-state interactions. I mobilize this research for a discussion of how to think about how to govern patients who interact in digital environments that are messy and quite hard to surveil. Can we still speak about infrastructures of health care, when it is unclear what exactly they transport and who is responsible for the information?

10:00       Panel 3: Distributing care within a family
  • Angela Genova, University of Urbino
    The chronic care infrastructure in Italy: autism spectrum disorders care policy and practices 
  • Carl Walker and Orly Kein, University of Brighton
    ‘Helping them hold up their world’- the care practices of parents of children with complex needs
  • Antigone Lyberiki, University of Athens
    Family and friends as care providers in crisis: Greece and Southern Europe

11:00              Tea/Coffee

11:30         Panel 4: Repairing and maintaining infrastructures under strain / innovation
  • Aleksandr Bugrovskii, Higher School of Economics, Department of Political Science and Regional Studies (Saint-Petersburg)
    NGOs working with disabled people and state authorities
  • Janina Kehr and Tomas S. Criado, Munich
    States of incomplete care in Spain
  • Catherine Will, University of Sussex
    Remaking public health in the cracks of the welfare state UK 


13:30         Panel 5: The multiple roles of care innovation / welfare technology
  • Mary Darking, University of Brighton
    Varied emplacements of care: boundary spanning and the broader ecology of mHealth care infrastructure
  • Miria Grisot and Alexander Moltubakk Kempton, Oslo
    Examining the emergence of welfare technology infrastructures for remote care in Norway 
  • Daniel Gomez, Barcelona
    Grass roots care innovations (Spain, ageing)
  • Henriette Langstrup, University of Copenhagen
    Disintermediated care? Patient Rated Outcome-data and the discourse of disruptive technologies in healthcare

14:50                *Finish and summing up*

15:10                 Close