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.
Subjects: Philosophy, Political Science, Sociology
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