Social Acceleration: A New Theory of Modernity

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Columbia University Press, Jun 11, 2013 - Philosophy - 512 pages

Hartmut Rosa advances an account of the temporal structure of society from the perspective of critical theory. He identifies three categories of change in the tempo of modern social life: technological acceleration, evident in transportation, communication, and production; the acceleration of social change, reflected in cultural knowledge, social institutions, and personal relationships; and acceleration in the pace of life, which happens despite the expectation that technological change should increase an individual's free time.



According to Rosa, both the structural and cultural aspects of our institutions and practices are marked by the "shrinking of the present," a decreasing time period during which expectations based on past experience reliably match the future. When this phenomenon combines with technological acceleration and the increasing pace of life, time seems to flow ever faster, making our relationships to each other and the world fluid and problematic. It is as if we are standing on "slipping slopes," a steep social terrain that is itself in motion and in turn demands faster lives and technology. As Rosa deftly shows, this self-reinforcing feedback loop fundamentally determines the character of modern life.

 

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I don’t know where to begin with this one. It’s about so many different things. Well, it’s actually about everything—everything we do, we invent, we perceive--the social processes that make up the ... Read full review

Contents

Introduction
1
The Categorial Framework of a Systematic Theory of Social Acceleration
33
Observations of Modernity
35
2 What Is Social Acceleration?
63
Mechanisms and Manifestations A Phenomenology of Social Acceleration
95
3 Technical Acceleration and the Revolutionizing of the SpaceTime Regime
97
The Acceleration of Social Change and the Increase of Contingency
108
5 The Acceleration of the Pace of Life and Paradoxes in the Experience of Time
120
The State and the Military as Key Institutional Accelerators
195
Consequences
209
9 Acceleration Globalization Postmodernity
211
Of Drifters and Players
224
Paradoxical Time Horizons Between Desynchronization and Disintegration
251
An Attempt to Redefine Modernity
277
Frenetic Standstill? The End of History
299
Notes
323

Causes
149
The Circle of Acceleration
151
External Driving Forces of Social Acceleration
160

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About the author (2013)

Hartmut Rosa is professor of sociology and political science at the Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena. He is the author of Alienation and Acceleration: Towards a Critical Theory of Late-Modern Temporality and coeditor, with William E. Scheuerman, High-Speed Society: Social Acceleration, Power, and Modernity.

Jonathan Trejo-Mathys (1979–2014) was assistant professor of philosophy at Boston College.

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