From the same journal

From the same journal

Speed Up or Slow Down? Social Theory in the Information Age

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  • N. Gane


Publication details

JournalInformation, Communication and Society
DatePublished - Feb 2006
Issue number1
Number of pages18
Pages (from-to)20-38
Original languageEnglish


Extreme processes of social and cultural acceleration lie at the heart of the information age but social theory, for the most part, continues to be a slow and patient affair. In view of this, this paper asks how such theory is to respond to the speed-up of social life and culture. Should it attempt to keep pace with a world that is changing faster than ever? Or is the strength of theory that it is a slow, detached and reflective form that lies outside the accelerated logic of contemporary capitalist culture? In an attempt to address such questions, this paper considers two main alternatives: first, that theory should follow the speed-up of the world by technologizing itself (as argued by Scott Lash and Peter Lunenfeld), and second, and seemingly contrary to this, that in times of cultural speed-up theory should either call for social and cultural slow-down (Marshall McLuhan, Paul Virilio), slow down itself (Jean Baudrillard), or perhaps both. In considering these alternatives, media theory (associated with the above figures) is used as a resource for questioning the focus and form of social theory today.

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