The Sociology of Speed: Digital, Organizational, and Social Temporalities
Oxford University Press
15 Dec 2016
There is a widespread perception that life is faster than it used to be. We hear constant laments that we live too fast, that time is scarce, and that the pace of everyday life is spiraling out of our control. The iconic image that abounds is that of the frenetic, technologically tethered, iPhone/iPad-addicted citizen. Yet weren't modern machines supposed to save, and thereby free up, time? The purpose of this book is to bring a much-needed sociological perspective to bear on speed: it examines how speed and acceleration came to signify the zeitgeist, and explores the political implications of this. Among the major questions addressed are: when did acceleration become the primary rationale for technological innovation and the key measure of social progress? Is acceleration occurring across all sectors of society and all aspects of life, or are some groups able to mobilise speed as a resource while others are marginalised and excluded? Does the growing centrality of technological mediations (of both information and communication) produce slower as well as faster times, waiting as well as 'busyness', stasis as well as mobility? To what extent is the contemporary imperative of speed as much a cultural artefact as a material one? To make sense of everyday life in the twenty-first century, we must begin by interrogating the social dynamics of speed. This book shows how time is a collective accomplishment, and that temporality is experienced very differently by diverse groups of people, especially between the affluent and those who service them.