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

Gane, N. (2006) Speed Up or Slow Down? Social Theory in the Information Age. Information, Communication and Society, 9 (1). pp. 20-38. ISSN 1369-118X

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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.

Item Type: Article
Institution: The University of York
Academic Units: The University of York > Sociology (York)
Depositing User: York RAE Import
Date Deposited: 15 May 2009 14:05
Last Modified: 15 May 2009 14:05
Published Version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13691180500519282
Status: Published
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
Identification Number: 10.1080/13691180500519282
URI: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/6321

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