Privacy, boundaries and smart homes for health: an ethnographic study

Alison Burrows*, David Coyle, Rachael Gooberman-Hill

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

37 Citations (Scopus)
329 Downloads (Pure)


This article explores how people negotiate borders and boundaries within the home, in the context of health and the introduction of new technologies. We draw on an ethnographic study involving a socially diverse group of people, which included people with experience of telecare or smart home energy systems. Participants engaged in various strategies to regulate the borders of their home, even though new technologies have begun to change the nature of these borders. Participants managed health conditions but also their use of technology through boundary work that permitted devices to be more or less visible and integrated within the home. Findings highlight that if smart healthcare technologies are to be accepted in the home then there is a need for mechanisms that allow people to control the interpretation of data and flow of information generated about them and their households.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)112-118
Number of pages7
JournalHealth and Place
Early online date9 Feb 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2018

Structured keywords

  • Digital Health


  • Borders
  • Smart home
  • Ethnography
  • Privacy
  • Boundary work


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