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Sleep App Discourses: A Cultural Perspective

Metric Culture

ISBN: 978-1-78743-290-1, eISBN: 978-1-78743-289-5

Publication date: 24 September 2018


Sleep apps installed on smartphones are increasingly being used to help people overcome sleep problems. The purpose of this chapter is to identify the discourses that underpin discursive constructions of the potential sleep app user in sleep app marketing communication. According to critical marketing theory, discursive constructions of the potential consumer in marketing communication promote the potential consumer’s identification and alignment, priming the potential consumer to consider positively the product being marketed. In that sense, marketing (of sleep apps, or indeed anything) is culturally significant, as it provides templates for forms of identity, and affects the meanings and objects that circulate within a culture.

A data set consisting of the promotional material that was used to market acclaimed sleep apps was analysed using Foucauldian discourse analysis (FDA). The following discourses were identified in the data: disempowerment, pathologisation, ignorance, behaviourism, responsibilisation, mindfulness, seduction, convenience or common sense, empowerment and individualisation. These discourses indicate how sleep apps are legitimised as technical appendages to be installed into people’s phones and integrated into their lives. They also underpin the discursive identities that summon potential consumers into alignment. This chapter contributes to our understandings of the discursive mechanisms that lie behind the growing uptake of sleep apps. It also demonstrates the value of combining discourse analysis with relevant critical theory to gain insights into the emerging phenomenon of app culture.



Fage-Butler, A. (2018), "Sleep App Discourses: A Cultural Perspective", Ajana, B. (Ed.) Metric Culture, Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 157-176.



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