BabyVeillance? Expecting parents, online surveillance and the cultural specificity of pregnancy apps

Barassi, Veronica. 2017. BabyVeillance? Expecting parents, online surveillance and the cultural specificity of pregnancy apps. Social Media and Society, 3(2), pp. 1-10. ISSN 2056-3051 [Article]

[img] Text
BabyVeillance_ Final Submission.docx - Accepted Version
Permissions: Administrator Access Only
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

Download (155kB)
2056305117707188.pdf - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial.

Download (355kB) | Preview

Abstract or Description

The rapid proliferation of self-tracking pregnancy apps raises critical questions about the commodification and surveillance of personal data in family life while highlighting key transformations in the social experience of pregnancy. In the last 2 years, we have seen the emergence of significant research in the field. On one hand, scholars have highlighted the political economic dimension of these apps by showing how they relate to new practices of quantification of the self. On the other hand, they have focused on users’ experience and on the affective, pleasurable, and socially meaningful dimension of these technologies. Although insightful, current research has yet to consider the cultural specificity of these technologies. Drawing on a digital ethnography of the 10 most reviewed pregnancy apps among UK and US users at the beginning of 2016, the article will show not only that the information ecologies of pregnancy apps are extremely varied but also that users’ interaction with these technologies is critical and culturally specific. By discussing pregnancy apps as complex ethnographic environments—which are shaped by different cultural tensions and open-ended processes of negotiation, interaction, and normativity—the article will argue that—in the study of infancy online—we need to develop a media anthropological approach and shed light on the cultural complexity of digital technologies while taking into account how users negotiate with digital surveillance and the quantification of the self.

Item Type:


Identification Number (DOI):


digital ethnography, pregnancy apps, quantified self, information ecologies, big data

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Media, Communications and Cultural Studies


3 March 2017Accepted
19 May 2017Published Online
1 April 2017Published

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

09 Jun 2017 10:07

Last Modified:

15 Dec 2020 17:52

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


View statistics for this item...

Edit Record Edit Record (login required)