Smartwatch, Sport, and Health: Identities and Everyday Lives of China’s University Students

Conference: The Asian Conference on the Social Sciences (ACSS2022)
Title: Smartwatch, Sport, and Health: Identities and Everyday Lives of China’s University Students
Stream: Sociology
Presentation Type: Virtual Presentation
Tianyang Lu, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong


Smartwatch that supports sport- and health-related functions has gained great popularity among China’s university students. This project intends to investigate how much students’ understandings of health and sport-doing have been reshaped and their everyday activities have been changed through adopting the concept of biomedicalization (Carter et al., 2018) that refers to the mutual effects and interdependence between techno-sciences and social forms. The project has launched 20 face-to-face in-depth semi-structured interviews with Chinese postgraduates, and interview questions include what functions they would use, how much smartwatch defines who they are, and how much other people affect their uses of smartwatch. The findings show that the uses of smartwatch transform the sport-related identities and everyday activities of Chinese university students. For one thing, the function of quantification, such as quantifying sporting intensity, enables students to supervise their living activities all the time; furthermore, the data analysis and sports recommendations make students become more concerned with their sport-doing and, as a result, intentionally regulate their sport activities. For another, the function of sharing facilitates online communications among different users and also generates a group of influencers who together establish a social discourse of health and sports within which they understand themselves and form a collective identity; furthermore, such discourse also teaches others how to do sports and how to be healthy. In brief, the uses of sport-watch, to some extent, transform the understandings of health and sport-doing and reconfigure identities and everyday activities among Chinese universities students and beyond.

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