Meditation in the age of its technological mimicry

A dispositif analysis of mindfulness applications




Dispositif analysis, mindfulness applications, digital health, gamification


In recent years, mindfulness meditation has become a popular technique to reduce stress or anxietyrelated problems and to enhance happiness and wellbeing. Apart from specific real-life mindfulness
programs in schools, hospitals, military, and business environments, there is a strongly expanding
field of digitally mediated mindfulness. From a critical psychological, ‘Foucauldian’ perspective,
we analyse popular mindfulness apps as dispositifs of power that contribute to aligning the selfgovernance of individuals with the requirements of neo-liberal governance. Our analysis exposes
them as sociocultural artefacts fostering exactly such forms of subjectification that fit the neoliberal
state of affairs. By freely amalgamating and interweaving psychological, Buddhist, and economic
‘knowledge’ (their ‘meditations’ being inspired, apart from alleged Buddhist sources, from
cognitive behavioral therapy, positive psychology, and management literature), such apps orient
self-government towards competition, optimization, enhancement, and acceleration, i.e., towards a
happiness conflated with productivity – probably not quite what the Buddha had in mind.

Author Biographies

Thomas Slunecko, Faculty of Psychology, University of Vienna, Austria.

Thomas Slunecko works at the Department for Basic Psychological Research at the
University of Vienna. Starting with his habilitation treatise in 2002, he has developed an
approach to cultural psychology which is inspired by media theory, phenomenology,
systems theory, and cultural philosophy and, thus, quite interdisciplinary in nature. Thomas
Slunecko has a long-standing expertise in qualitative research methods, especially in
metaphor, discourse, dispositif, and picture analysis. He is the scientific head of the Viennabased independent Institut für Kulturpsychologie und qualitative Sozialforschung (IKUS),
has held functions in the steering committee of the Gesellschaft für Kulturpsychologie, is
an editorial board member of Journal für Psychologie, Culture & Psychology, and
Integrative Psychological & Behavioral Science, co-editor of a book series in social
scientific image interpretation (publisher: Barbara Budrich) and of another book series on Meditation in the age of its technological mimicry psychotherapy (publisher: facultas/UTB), a licensed psychotherapist and full member of the Austrian Psychotherapy Council

Laisha Chlouba

Laisha D. Chlouba, MSc, studied Psychology at the University of Vienna. Her research
interests in Indian psychology and qualitative methods, such as dispositif analysis, have
been influenced by an early desire to understand the psyche, consciousness, knowledge and
the meaning of life and love in order to free herself from any limiting forms of
subjectification. This has further led her to become an independent scientist and to deeply
study the art of meditation. Dedicated to keeping the relation of theory and practice close,
she works as a healing practitioner and meditation teacher.


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How to Cite

Slunecko, T., & Chlouba, L. (2021). Meditation in the age of its technological mimicry: A dispositif analysis of mindfulness applications. International Review of Theoretical Psychologies, 1(1).