DSC/e Lecture Katleen Gabriels, Between ‘Entertainment Medicine’ and Professionalization of Self-Care

06 March
12:30 - 13:30
TU/e Grand Café 'De Zwarte Doos' - Filmzaal


Nowadays, digital self-tracking devices offer a plethora of possibilities to both healthy and chronically ill users who want to closely examine their body. Self-tracking in a private setting will lead to shifting understandings in professional care. In order to provide more insight into these shifts, this talk presents study findings on the promises and challenges of self-tracking while staying close to the everyday professional experience of the physician. 

Together with Tania Moerenhout (Ghent University) I conducted in-depth interviews with general practitioners (GPs) and cardiologists in Flanders, Belgium. Four major themes arise in our body of data: (1) the patient as health manager; (2) health obsession and medicalization; (3) information management; and (4) shifting roles of the doctors and impact on healthcare organization. The findings show a nuanced understanding of the potentials and pitfalls of different forms of self-tracking. The necessity of contextualization of self-tracking data and a professionalization of self-care through digital devices come to the fore as important overarching concepts.


Katleen Gabriels is an assistant professor in the research group Philosophy and Ethics at the Department Industrial Engineering & Innovation Sciences, Eindhoven University of Technology. She researches the relations between morality and contemporary technologies. In so doing, she seeks to conjoin a strong grounding in moral philosophy with empirical studies.

Her research focuses on ‘other-tracking technologies’. Mobile and wearable computing create ever more possibilities to track one another through GPS-enabled devices and mobile applications: parents can track their children, spouses their significant other, employers their employees, and so forth. 

Katleen holds an MSc in Germanic Philology from KU Leuven and an MSc in Moral Sciences from Ghent University and a doctoral degree in Philosophy and Moral Sciences from Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), where she worked as a postdoctoral researcher from 2014 to 2017. 

Katleen is an elected steering committee member of Ethicomp, an international organization that occupies itself with ethical computing. Her book 'Onlife. Hoe de digitale wereld je leven bepaalt (How digitization shapes your life)' was published (Lannoo) in 2016 and named as ‘Book of the year’ by independent think tank Liberales.

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