The new apparatus of what is often termed ‘digital health’ (and also ‘Health 2.0’, ‘Medicine 2.0’, eHealth’ or ‘mHealth’), a conglomeration of new digital technologies addressed at delivering healthcare, preventive medicine and health promotion, has facilitated a focus on measuring and monitoring the functions and activities of lay people’s bodies and encouraging self-care among patients with chronic diseases. It is upon this new approach to identifying and preventing ill health and disease that this working paper focuses. While the digital health approach to the body and health spans the arc from patient care to public health surveillance techniques, the discussion here largely is directed at the implications for the digital health ‘revolution’ in relation to the practice of health promotion; or what I refer to as ‘digitized health promotion’. It is argued that despite concerted efforts on the part of those advocating for a less individualistic approach to health promotion since the 1970s and drawing attention to the social determinants of health, digital health technologies as they are advocated for promoting health represent a renewed focus on personal responsibility for health. In the discourses and practices of digitized health promotion, health risks have become increasingly individualized and viewed as manageable and controllable as long as lay people adopt the appropriate technologies to engage in self-monitoring and self-care. With the advent of the big data produced by digital technologies and the use of sophisticated algorithms to manipulate these data, it has become ever more convenient to focus attention on personal responsibility for health states. The digitalized health promotion phenomenon, therefore, operates as one dimension of the progressive withdrawal of the state in many developed countries from attempting to challenge the social and economic factors causing ill health and disease and efforts to promote social justice.


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