Dissertationsarbeit von Benedikt Julius Kastner, M.A.
|Benedikt Julius Kastner, M.A.
THE CONSTRUCTION OF AUTHENTICITY IN MINDFULNESS APPS. TRANSCULTURAL PROCESSES OF TRANSFORMATION AND THE CONCEPTUALIZATION OF BRANDS, CONSUMPTION AND SELF-OPTIMIZATION
In my dissertation, I analyze and situate mindfulness apps in the discourse of branding and self-optimization. In examining the design and development production process of mindfulness apps, I am particularly interested in understanding the decisions the app producers make in their attempt to present their apps as tools for achieving ‘authentic‘ mindfulness.
Apps such as "Buddhify" and "The Mindfulness App" design mindfulness in different ways. The apps reflect various transcultural monopolies of knowledge on mindfulness and meditation: for example guided meditations, breathing exercises, body scans, healing sessions and others. The apps' design, sound, and content provide the user with a wide range of performative ascriptions of what mindfulness implies and what it does not imply.
A major part of my research is to understand how processes of branding are constructing authenticity in the app. Based on these research observations, I discuss whether mindfulness apps constitute a new understanding of meditation and material culture. Practicing mindfulness through a smartphone not only shows how technology shapes our daily lives but also how religious practices and beliefs can change over time.
Mindfulness and meditation are no longer to be understood as exclusively Buddhist practices. Since the ongoing transcultural receptions of mindfulness in the U.S. in the 20th century, providers of therapeutic and medical treatments, as well as those involved in spiritualized discourses began using mindfulness as part of their practice. The way in which practices and beliefs are now presented across various mindfulness apps varies significantly. Amongst the apps analyzed are spiritualized, religious/Buddhist and therapeutic (re-)constructions of mindfulness that are each insinuating a particular lifestyle. With these diverse opportunities to access mindfulness, app users have the freedom to decide for themselves which app best reflects their desire for optimization and transformation.