Collaborative Research Project of Sociology and Contemporary History on the Knowledge Production of Sleep

This cooperative study examines how knowledge gains validity for experts and/or laypersons in different historical and contemporary contexts. The project links the following sociological and historical case studies that analyze the production of sleep knowledge in three contexts: (a) a study on the establishment of sleep laboratories since the 1970s, (b) a study on the contemporary daily practices in sleep laboratories, and (c) a study on self-tracking of sleep. These closely related projects examine which practices, technologies, measurements and display methods (quantification, visualization, narration) are involved in grating validity to certain forms of sleep knowledge. The study is carried out in close cooperation with the sleep laboratories in Marburg, Zürich and Berlin.

Teilprojekt A: Zeitgeschichte
The (a) historical research is based on archival sources and published material of the three cooperating sleep laboratories as well as interviews with sleep researchers.
Teilprojekt B: Schlaflabor
The (b) analysis of the practices in contemporary sleep laboratories is done by video-ethnography with focus on interactions between experts and laypersons.
Teilprojekt C: Schlaftracking
Finally, (c) the study on sleep tracking is an online-ethnography focusing on online forums, blog entries, and video lectures.

Thus, the project contributes to a better understanding of a society in which daily life increasingly requires knowledge for orientation and decision-making. The study questions fundamental power structures and by deciphering the social and historical nature of what merely appears to be definite knowledge. Furthermore, the combination of historical and sociological approaches brings together debates that have been unrelated so far: Debates about the social construction of knowledge, the quantification and visualization of knowledge and the genesis of the subject in modern society.