Blurring boundaries between humans and technology: postdigital, postphenomenology and actor-network theory in qualitative research

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Digital technologies in sport, exercise and health along with every other aspect of human activity have the potential to change practices but also the very discourse and perception of an activity. As technology develops and devices become more ‘smart’, qualitative research requires theories and concepts with which to frame empirical study. Social constructivism at one end of a continuum says that society determines how new technologies are designed and used, in contrast, technological determinism states that technology develops along a single track of progress of development to determine the social. Both of these are explored and used as polar extremes to then blur boundaries with the theoretical positions of postdigital, postphenomenology and Actor-Network Theory (ANT). These perspectives critically look at the digital and the human and the mediation of experiences through technological artefacts and human agency in a network of humans, artefacts and culture. These perspectives are explored and contextualised through health and fitness tracking devices and presented as theoretical frameworks for qualitative research in sport, health and exercise.

Bibliographic note

Publisher Copyright: © 2020 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)26-40
Number of pages15
JournalQualitative Research in Sport, Exercise and Health
Issue number1
Early online date3 Nov 2020
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2021


  • Postdigital, actor-network theory, digital, postphenomenology, technology

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