Social Acceleration Theory and the Self

Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour 45 (4):397-418 (2015)
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Abstract

In recent years, there has been a rapidly growing body of work in the social sciences that underscores the prevalence of the phenomenon of ‘social acceleration'—the speeding up of social life— in many parts of the Western world. Although research on social acceleration has tended to analyze the phenomenon on a social-structural level, there is also a need to investigate how social acceleration has ‘ramifications for the socially dominant forms of self-relation’. One way to gain a more in-depth understanding of this facet of social acceleration is to investigate the speeding up of social life through the prism of the self. The central argument of this article is that there are at least five images of the self which can be associated with the social acceleration phenomenon: the ‘detached’ self, the ‘reflexive’ self, the ‘reinventive’ self, the ‘stationary’ self and the ‘decelerating’ self. By explaining how these kinds of self relate to the speeding up process, we seek to advance a more nuanced and sophisticated theory of social acceleration, which captures some of the complexities and paradoxes that the phenomenon involves

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