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The Universal Underneath the Multiple: Social Acceleration as the Key to Understanding Modernity Hartmut Rosa, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena Time.

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Presentation on theme: "The Universal Underneath the Multiple: Social Acceleration as the Key to Understanding Modernity Hartmut Rosa, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena Time."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Universal Underneath the Multiple: Social Acceleration as the Key to Understanding Modernity Hartmut Rosa, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena Time and Modernity-Conference, Oslo, June 19th, 2007

2 Social Acceleration: Key to Understanding Modernity Hartmut Rosa, University of Jena I Is there one Modernity? Three possible objections: - four different processes - ruptures, breaks and phases - cultural diversity: ‚multiple modernities‘  Claim: Social Acceleration is Modernity‘s ‚Universal‘

3 Structure Personality Stance towards Nature Culture Differenciation (Paradox: Disintegration) (Durkheim, Luhmann) Rationalization (Paradox: ‚iron cage’) (Weber, Habermas) Domestication (Paradox: ‚Ecolog. Disaster’) (Marx, Adorno/Horkheimer) Individualization (Paradox: ‚mass culture’) (Simmel, Beck, Schulze) Social Acceleration: Key to Understanding Modernity Hartmut Rosa, Universität Jena II. Sociological Theory and the Four Processes of Modernization

4 Social Acceleration: Key to Understanding Modernity Hartmut Rosa, Universität Jena Claim 1: - These four process converge in the principle of acceleration/dynamization as the ‚linking‘ element - The cultural experience of Modernity is the Experience of Social Acceleration – as witnessed by poets and social theorists alike  Needed: A social theory of acceleration – What is accelerating?

5 Dimensions of Acceleration 3. Acceleration of the „Pace of Life“ 2. Acceleration of Social Change 1. Technological Acceleration C) Cultural Motor: Promise of Acceleration B) Structural Motor: Functional Differentiation A) Economic Mo- tor: Time=Money Dimensions / Motors of Social Acceleration Hartmut Rosa University of Jena

6 Social Acceleration: Key to Understanding Modernity Hartmut Rosa, Jena University Why does it matter? Technological Acceleration and the Transformation of our „Weltbezüge“ Space Social Relations Material World Time Acc. of Transport Acc. of Communication Acc. of Production

7 Social Acceleration: Key to Understanding Modernity Hartmut Rosa, Universität Jena III. Progressive Acceleration and Cultural Discontinuity: The three phases of modernity Definition: Acceleration of Social Change = Contraction of the present The Past = all that which no longer holds/is valid The Future = all that which not yet is valid/holds The Present: Period of stability for which horizons of experience/expectation overlap; period of calculability Present in government: Bush-Administration (Past: Clinton, Future: Obama) Present in TV: Simpsons (<> Waltons and…) Present in your job, in your family, in your place, friends

8 Social Acceleration: Key to Understanding Modernity Hartmut Rosa, Universität Jena Progressive Acceleration and Cultural Discontinuity Claim 2: There is something like a “collective cultural present”: basic cultural assumptions and structural properties (forms of knowledge, social practice, association) Claim 3: There are critical thresholds as the acceleration of change/contraction of the present progresses (like solid, liquid, gas…)  These thresholds can be expected to be linked to the pace of generational exchange Intergenerational Pace of change: “Present” > years (span of communicative consciousness) Generational Pace of Change: Present = years: For every generation – a new world: Inter-generational dynamics – stable conditions for “planning a life-course”, generational horizon of calculability; Generations as bearers of innovation Intra-Generational Pace of Change: Present < 20 years

9 Hartmut Rosa, Jena University Speed of changeInter-generationalGenerationalIntra-Generational Period Pre-/early Modernity“High” ModernityLate modernity Indicators: family- + occupa- tional structures Inter-generational stability (family as an economic unit) Individualization of work and family, religion + politics; Succesions of jobs and intimate part-ners: ’Serial monogamy’ Perception of Time Congruence of hori- zons of experience and expectation; cyclical time Separation of past, present + future: linear time “timeless time”, yet: tem- poralized time; sequen- ce, rhythm + duration of events contingent on course of time Conception of individual life/ identity situativ-static perception of life: day-to-day challen- ges + trans- individual identities Temporalization of life: progressively evolving life-course; stable, self- determined indivi- dual identities De-temporalized life: contingent +reversible life- course, episodic addition replaces narratives of growth, ‘situationalist’ identities Conception of History and Politics Static history: Historical time as a ‘container’ for ‘hi- stories’, pre-democratic (nothing to shape in substance or time) Temporalized his- tory: intelligible, directed process prone to pol. shap- ing: temporal index of politics: progres- sive / conservative Democratic The “End of History”, de-temporalized h.; non- directed, frantic change; ‘situationalist politics’ no longer historical pace- maker, progressive politics = ‘deceleratory’ post-democratic

10 Social Acceleration: Key to Understanding Modernity Hartmut Rosa, Universität Jena IV. Cultural Diversity: The Universal and the Multiple 1) Modernity – The Singular - Modernization always signifies social acceleration – in all three of its core-dimensions - The “Cycle of Acceleration” appears to be invariant - Motors A) and B) are universal, too  What about the cultural motor and the perception of inertia? 2) Modernity – The Plural -Social Acceleration as a Logic and Direction of Change transforms all structural and cultural arrangements, but it does not necessarily nullify existing (cultural) differences -Cultural Differences as a Function of Social Kinetics Phase 1: Convergence of Process and Project of Modernity Phase 3: Divergence of Process and Project of Modernity

11 THE END! Thanks for Listening!


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