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The Neoliberalization of Sleep: A Discursive and Materialist Analysis of Sleep Technologies

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Tina Sikka



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-ND).


This article explores the implications of sleep apps which are sociologically significant inthat they represent an attempt to colonize, exploit, and make profitable one of the lastvestiges of the human lifeworld through discourses of self-subjectification, authenticity,and self-improvement. I assess the websites of two sleep tracking apps (Pillow and Sleep-Score) using critical discourse analysis (CDA), new materialism, and autoethnography. Imake the case that the neoliberal values associated with the use of these apps perpetuatethe logic that a better sleep makes for a more productive worker, better citizen, and idealconsumer subject. I also demonstrate how these apps function to open new sites of potentialprofit and reproduce a form of embodied neoliberal subjectivity generated by intra-activeentanglements between identities, technologies, and discourses. Finally, I take up theissue of marginalization and intersecting subject positions as it relates to inequalities thatthese sleep trackers might exacerbate.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Sikka T

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: TSANTSA – Journal of the Swiss Anthropological Association

Year: 2021

Volume: 26

Issue: June

Pages: 105-121

Online publication date: 30/06/2021

Acceptance date: 05/09/2020

Date deposited: 16/04/2021

ISSN (print): 1420-7834

ISSN (electronic): 2673-5377

Publisher: Bern Open Publishing


DOI: 10.36950/tsantsa.2021.26.6935


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