New Sleep Order (2011-2013)

The sleep has remained a blind-spot in much of the theory-making of social sciences. This is a significant gap acknowledging that the sleep conditions the very existence of human beings, and plays a significant role in the constitution of economies, cultures and societies. Moreover, current societies and economies witness the proliferation of a new sleep discourse that offers novel ways of valuing, thinking and practicing sleep. This research project sets out to investigate sleep as a cultural, economic, social and political phenomenon. Our multi-disciplinary research group carries theoretical and empirical research on sleep in the fields of tourism studies, consumption and marketing studies, and organization studies.

Aims of the project
The aim of the project is twofold. First, it aims at empirically exploring and conceptually clarifying the transforming phenomenon of sleep. It thereby provides novel understanding of the way sleep is practiced in various everyday contexts, and how these practices – and underlying understandings – are mediated, resisted and sustained in many unrecognized ways. It also ponders social, cultural, economic and political effects that the emerging sleep practices bring about. Second, the project uses the sleep as a catalyst that enables us to challenge, and critically elaborate on, the privilege of waking in the theory-making of social sciences, and to develop further many of the key concepts of social inquiry - such as the body, being-in-the-world, place, knowing, and agency - and subsequent onto-epistemological premises.

The following statements summarize the key theoretical starting points of the cultural approach to sleep developed in the project.
1. Sleeping and waking are entangled and co-constitutive states of human beings.
2. Society and economy sleep in us.
3. Sleeping is a habit, technique and skill enacted by a biological and cultural body.
Research and results
In the context of tourism studies, the project has rethought the tourist agency from the point of view of the sleep; empirically investigated sleeping practices of nature-based tourists in Lapland; modeled the characteristics of sleeping experience in hotels from the perspective of service design; and theorized the specific nature of arctic sleeping experience in an ice hotel, which represents one form of the rapidly growing tourism sector known as sleep tourism. It also elaborates sleep in the context of slow tourism. The project thereby points to the pervasive presence of sleep in tourism practice – and absence in prior tourism theory – and offers tools for the development of sustainable and ethical sleep services.

For organization studies, the project has ethnographically explored the hitherto un-explored relation between sleeping and knowing in the academic work, and ethnographically investigated embodied sleeping practices in a military organization. It also has conducted a survey of the contemporary napping practices in creative work and the data are analyzed from a cultural historical frame.

In the context of consumer culture and marketing, the project has investigated the relation between dreams and consumer culture; sleeping as a way to enhance consumers’ social relations; and sleep as a novel form of hedonic consumption. As empirical materials, the project employs consumer narratives, on-line materials, and marketing materials that offer insights into how sleep is signified and materialized in and through the practices of consumer and marketplace culture.

Since the beginning of the project it has extended by two sub-projects: Tekes funded project (2012-13) “Vitality through Sleep” (Unesta elinvoimaa) and “Release! (Lepo!)” (2012 -), the latter conducted in collaboration with the Finnish National Defense University.

The collaborative partners of the project: Aalto University School of Business (Prof. Johanna Moisander), Finnish National Defense University (Prof. Aki-Mauri Huhtinen), Metla (Senior Researcher Seija Tuulentie) and Oivanki Outdoor Education Centre.