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The acceleration of social theory

There’s a section in this 1997 chapter by Roger Burrows which my thoughts have been intermittently turning to since reading it last week. On pg 235 he writes: It is not just technology which appears to be accelerating towards meltdown, so are our cultural and sociological understandings of the world. […]

The Banal Reality of Democracy’s Death

There are two issues which have long fascinated me that seem more salient with each passing day. Our struggle to conceptualise long term social change from within (particularly the possibility of civilisational collapse) and the transition away from democratic government. Cinematic spectacle dominates the imaginary through we conceive of either, whether this is our […]

The Everyday Life of Incipient Fascism

I’ve long been fascinated by the question of what the descent into fascism feels like for those living through such a transition, how daily life changes (or fails to do so) as the fabric of the old order begins to unweave. There’s an insightful essay in the LA Review of Books which […]

Transformative Horizons

A few thoughts, prompted by the dispiriting act of choosing cosmopolitan austerity over nationalistic austerity in the UK referendum: Our perception of transformative possibilities is culturally constructed. Certain ranges of possibility are foregrounded and others backgrounded. Our sense of viability is the most cognitive dimension to this, informed by implicit […]

Subtraction stories and social change

The closest thing I have to an historiographical principle is to always be suspicious of what Charles Taylor calls ‘subtraction stories’. While he uses the concept to refer to congratulatory stories of rational emancipation in which human beings have gradually dispensed with myths and illusions that served to limit them, it […]

The temporal horizons of sociology

I just came across a passage by James Meek in which he describes being drawn to, the obscure realm of events that are too fresh for history, but too old for journalism; the murky gap of popular perception that covers the period from two years ago to about twenty-five years […]

Towards a sociology of endings

There’s a particular kind of sociological theorising which I’ve always been drawn to that concerns itself with the identification of epochal shifts in social life. When I was an intellectually frustrated philosophy student, the work of Giddens on Late Modernity and Bauman on Liquid Modernity seemed to hold the promise of […]

Social Acceleration and Musical Innovation

I just came across a lovely point in Harmut Rosa’s book about the relationship between social change and musical innovation. Certain forms of music come to be seen as emblematic of the age but, as that age changes so too does the sensibility which is brought to bear upon that music: today certain […]

Inside the Mind of the Republican Party

For those such as myself who have been increasingly baffled by events in the US in recent weeks, this analysis of findings from six focus groups with political partisans within the Republican party makes for interesting reading. The full report is available online here.  Understand that the base thinks they […]

“Oh there are other people just like me? I’m not so weird after all”: the internet, social change and social integration

I’ve been preoccupied recently by parallels I keep observing between common features of asexual biographies and those of other groups who share a common trait. In the case of asexuality this ‘common trait’ is not experiencing sexual attraction. Exactly what this entails about the individual’s experience and what, in turn, this experience has […]