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Self-tracking, datafication and the biopolitical prosumption of life
Karlstad University, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (starting 2013), Karlstad Business School.
2018 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The marketing literature has both celebrated and critically scrutinised the active engagement of consumers in value-creation processes. These opposing analyses share a focus on the mobilisation of consumers’ social and cognitive abilities for value creation. This thesis contributes to this discussion by exploring how diverse aspects of consumers’ lives become involved in value creation, leading the entirety of life to become a resource. In particular, the thesis focuses on the popular consumption phenomenon of self-tracking, which allows and enables consumers to track, quantify and datafy diverse facets of their lives. Drawing on data from two empirical studies, which were based on interviews and observational netnography, the thesis engages with the notion of biopolitical marketing to analyse the extraction and appropriation of value from consumers’ lives.

The thesis contributes to the critical marketing literature by advancing the understanding of the biopolitical nature of marketing in extracting value from consumers’ lifestyles and subjectivities. The theoretical contributions include the notions of the “biopolitical prosumption of life”, the “prosumed self” and the “prosuming self”. The “biopolitical prosumption of life” entails the “creation of worlds” that allow and enable the development of market-aligned subjectivities, which can generate value for corporate interests. The notions of the “prosumed self” and the “prosuming self” are introduced to frame and elucidate these subjectivities. The empirical findings suggest that marketing interventions foster the development of marketing environments (“worlds”) that seek to contain consumers while allowing them to act freely, albeit in ways that augment the value that can be extracted and appropriated.

Abstract [en]

The aim of the thesis is to explore the extraction and appropriation of value from an increasing number of aspects of consumers’ lives. To do this, the thesis focuses on the popular consumption phenomenon of self-tracking, which allows consumers to track and quantify diverse facets of their lives. Engaging with biopolitical analyses of contemporary marketing and drawing on qualitative empirical data, the thesis contests and extends previous marketing theorisations that focus primarily on consumers’ skills and knowledge while maintaining that the entirety of human existence becomes a resource for value.

The thesis contributes to the critical marketing literature by advancing the understanding of the biopolitical nature of marketing in extracting value from consumers’ lifestyles and in the creation of consumer subjectivities. It introduces the notion of the “biopolitical prosumption of life”, which refers to the “creation of worlds” that allow and enable the development of market-aligned subjectivities, which can generate value for corporate interests. The notions of the “prosumed self” and the “prosuming self” are introduced to frame and elucidate these subjectivities. The empirical findings indicate that marketing interventions foster the development of marketing environments (“worlds”) that seek to contain consumers while allowing them to act freely, albeit in ways that augment the value that can be extracted and appropriated.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Karlstad: Karlstads universitet, 2018. , p. 140
Series
Karlstad University Studies, ISSN 1403-8099 ; 2018:10
Keywords [en]
biopolitical marketing, critical marketing, self-tracking, value creation, datafication
National Category
Business Administration
Research subject
Business Administration
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-66177ISBN: 978-91-7063-839-8 (print)ISBN: 978-91-7063-934-0 (electronic)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kau-66177DiVA, id: diva2:1181489
Public defence
2018-03-23, 11D257, Agardhsalen, Karlstad, 13:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2018-03-09 Created: 2018-02-08 Last updated: 2018-03-09Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Prosuming (the) self
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Prosuming (the) self
2016 (English)In: Ephemera : Theory and Politics in Organization, ISSN 2052-1499, E-ISSN 1473-2866, Vol. 16, no 3, p. 37-59Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Web 2.0 has placed prosumption at the very centre of economic value creation. Digital prosumption has been usually associated with user-generated content. However, recent studies argue for a need to also treat user generated data as a form of prosumption labour, as it is the appropriation and exploitation of these data that fuels digital capitalism. In this paper I analyze self-tracking as a form of digital prosumption. When people use the increasingly popular self-tracking devices, they produce huge amounts of data about themselves, referred to as self-quantification, which firms draw on to create value. The paper aims to expand on the notion of data production as prosumption labour by focusing on self-quantification. I draw on Dallas Smythe’s concept of the ‘audience commodity’ to analyze the commodification and valorization of life through selfquantification practices. I argue that through the generation of data the quantified-self becomes the ‘prosuming self’ that generates value through her own tracked life, but also the ‘prosumed self’, an active and entrepreneurial subject that is governed to produce the kinds of data that can create value for firms.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Leicester: , 2016
Keywords
Dallas-Smythe, prosumption, self-quantification, self-tracking, commodification
National Category
Economics and Business
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-62945 (URN)
Available from: 2017-09-07 Created: 2017-09-07 Last updated: 2018-02-08Bibliographically approved
2. "Made to Run": Biopolitical marketing and the making of the self-quantified runner
Open this publication in new window or tab >>"Made to Run": Biopolitical marketing and the making of the self-quantified runner
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
National Category
Business Administration
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-66174 (URN)
Available from: 2018-02-08 Created: 2018-02-08 Last updated: 2018-02-08
3. The quantification paradox: Exploring consumers' attitudes towards self-tracking
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The quantification paradox: Exploring consumers' attitudes towards self-tracking
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
National Category
Business Administration
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-66175 (URN)
Available from: 2018-02-08 Created: 2018-02-08 Last updated: 2018-02-08
4. Creating worlds that create audiences: Theorizing personal data markets
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Creating worlds that create audiences: Theorizing personal data markets
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
National Category
Business Administration
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-66176 (URN)
Available from: 2018-02-08 Created: 2018-02-08 Last updated: 2018-02-08

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