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Threats and thrills: pregnancy apps, risk, and consumption

Thomas, Gareth Martin ORCID: and Lupton, Deborah 2016. Threats and thrills: pregnancy apps, risk, and consumption. Health, Risk & Society 17 (7-8) , pp. 495-509. 10.1080/13698575.2015.1127333

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This article reports the findings of a critical discourse analysis of pregnancy-related mobile software applications designed for smartphones (‘apps’). Drawing on a detailed analysis of all such apps available in June 2015 in the two major global app stores Google Play and Apple App Store, we discuss how such technologies configure pregnant embodiment in two distinct ways. The first (the ‘threats’ mode of representation) portrays the pregnant body as a site of risk requiring careful self-surveillance using apps to reduce potential harm to women and particularly their foetuses. The second dominant mode of representation (‘thrills’) constructs the pregnant body and self-tracking in more playful terms. App developers use ludification strategies and encourage the social sharing of pregnancy-related details as part of emphasising the enjoyable aspects of pregnancy. Our analysis found that both types of pregnancy-related apps endorse expectations around pregnancy behaviour that reproduce heteronormative and gendered ideals around sexuality, parenthood, and consumption. These apps are socio-cultural artefacts enacting pregnant bodies as sites of both risk and pleasure. In both cases, users of the apps are encouraged to view pregnancy as an embodied mode of close monitoring and surveillance, display, and performance.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
R Medicine > RG Gynecology and obstetrics
Uncontrolled Keywords: Apps, consumption, digital media, pregnancy, risk, self-tracking, surveillance
Additional Information: Published online: 24 Dec 2015 Pdf uploaded in accordance with publisher's policy at (accessed 23/05/2016)
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
ISSN: 1469-8331
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Date of Acceptance: 25 November 2015
Last Modified: 01 Nov 2022 18:25

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