Big Data and Society 8 (1) (2021)

The COVID-19 global pandemic has stretched the capacities of public health institutions and health systems around the world, opening the door to a range of technologically-driven solutions. In this article, we seek to historicize the expanding role of digital health technologies and examine the political-economic context from which they have emerged. Drawing on critical insights from science and technology studies, we maintain that the rise of digital health technologies has been catalyzed by broad shifts in global health governance that have expanded the role of market forces in public health and a unique set of political and economic crises that have accelerated the adoption of digital technologies—often under the guise of appeals to technological innovation to address “unprecedented” crises. These interrelated historical trends, we contend, are critical for understanding current state responses to the pandemic and possibilities for more equitable and democratic applications of technology in public health.
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DOI 10.1177/20539517211019441
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