Digital Self-Evaluation and the Cybernetic Regime: A Sketch for a Materialist Apparatus Analysis

  • Simon Schaupp MCTS, Technical University of Munich
Keywords: apparatus, self-tracking, cybernetics, materialism, critical realism


Using the example of self-tracking, this paper develops a materialist approach to the methodology of apparatus analysis. It builds on the Foucauldian concept of the apparatus, which it then subdivides into micro apparatus, as a concrete digital technology, and macro apparatus, as the superordinate regime to which the micro apparatus contributes. To bridge these two concepts, the term of the “urgent need” is used for asking to which broader social problems a given apparatus reacts. Contrary to approaches of “new materialism”, this paper insists on an analytical divide between discourse and matter on the one hand and action structure on the other hand, to be able to consider politico-economic power relations. Using this methodology, the relationship between the techno-practice of self-tracking and a broader cybernetic regime, is illustrated.

Author Biography

Simon Schaupp, MCTS, Technical University of Munich

Simon Schaupp is research associate at the Post/Doc Lab Reorganizing Industries at the Munich Center for Technology in Society of the Technical University of Munich. His research focus is sociology of media and technology, industrial sociology and critical theory.