Rachael is a scholar in the fields of digital media, communication and digital culture. Rachael’s academic research is interdisciplinary, and she is interested in the impact and influence of new media upon social and cultural dimensions, specifically the intersection of technology and the body, health and surveillance.
Rachael gained her PhD from the Department of Culture, Media and Creative Industries at King’s College London. Her thesis examined the use of self-tracking technologies and social media in self-representations and management of health. Rachael has a BA (Hons) with a First Class in Media and Communication Studies (2010), and an MA with Distinction in Creative Media from the University of Brighton (2014).
Rachael is currently writing her first book, The Health Self - Digital Performativity and Health Management in Everyday Life. Published by Bristol University Press as part of the Quantified Societies and Selves Series, this book explores the cultural significance and social implications of the pervasive adoption of self-tracking technologies and social media as tools of health performativity and management. In particular, this book examines the wide integration of these technologies in individuals’ everyday lives to track, regulate and perform health practices from the perspective of those working towards specific health goals, like marathon training or dieting, to those suffering from illness and chronic disease, as well as the everyday lay user.
Research interests and PhD supervision
- Digital health and food cultures
- Quantified-self and self-tracking
- Datafication and surveillance
- Identity and mediated bodies
- Social media and (self-) representation
- Ethnography and qualitative research methods
- Technology 'compulsions' and digital detoxing
- Climate change communication and digital environmental activism
Rachael’s current research is interested in examining the intersection of technology and the body, health, surveillance and representation.
Rachael teaches at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels on many areas of digital culture and society: AI and machine learning, social media, identity and representation, online communities, climate change communications, digital politics and activism, (digital) health, self-tracking, surveillance and the medical humanities.
Expertise and public engagement
Rachael is a frequently invited speaker at public events and on international news media, most recently contributing to the wellness podcast and website, All Hail Kale, and BBC News and BBC World (29/04/19). She has given papers at a wide range of international multi-disciplinary conferences, delivering conceptual and complex ideas to a variety of inter-disciplinary and multi-cultural audiences.
Since 2015 Rachael has been project lead on the European Research Council funded Ego-Media Project which examines the role and impact of new media upon self-presentation: http://www.ego-media.org/author/rachael-kent.
Rachael is committed to embedding academic research within cultural settings, as well as exploring innovative ways to communicate academic knowledge and expertise. Rachael has collaborated with cultural institutions, including exhibiting two films on her research at the Somerset House ‘Dear Diary’ Exhibition (2017), available to view here. She has also hosted events (‘Life Online’) at the Science Museum ‘Lates’ evenings.
Rachael is a consultant for technology companies advising on digital health and wellbeing. Rachael also works for The Hour wellbeing as a workshop leader and coach, advising companies and their employees on the influence of digital technology in everyday personal and professional life.
- Kent, R. (2020) Self-Tracking Health Over Time: From the Use of Instagram to Perform Optimal Health to the Protective Shield of the Digital Detox, Social Media + Society Special Issue: Studying Instagram Beyond Selfie
- Kent, R. (2020, June 1). 'How Fitness Tracking Tech Can Become Addictive - and Why That's a Problem', All Hail Kale: No-Nonsense Wellness Website & BBC Podcast
- (2020, March 5) Health Tracking Dangers & Data Surveillance – The Know Show Episode #9
- Kent, R. (2021) The Health Self -Digital Performativity and Health Management in Everyday Life. Quantified Societies & Selves Series, Bristol University Press.
- Kent, R. (Forthcoming). The Utility of Ethnographic Methods in Identifying the Influences of Digital Food Cultures Upon Users’ Everyday Lives, In Krogager, S, G, Stinne. and Leer, Jonatan. (eds) Research Methods for Digital Food Studies. Routledge.
- Kent, R. (2020) Self-Tracking and Digital Food Cultures: Surveillance and Representation of the Moral ‘Healthy’ Body. In Lupton, Deborah and Feldman, Zeena. (eds.) Digital Food Cultures. Routledge.
- Kent, R. (2018) Social Media and Self-Tracking: Representing the ‘Health Self'. In: Ajana B. (eds) Self-Tracking. Palgrave Macmillan: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-65379-2_5