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The Digital Condition
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Our contemporary societies place more and more emphasis on the singular and the unique. The industrial societies of the early 20th century produced standardized products, cities, subjects and organizations which tended to look the same, but in our late-modern societies, we value the exceptional - unique objects, experiences, places, individuals, events and communities which are beyond the ordinary and which claim a certain authenticity. Industrial society's logic of the general has been replaced by late modernity's logic of the particular. In this major new book, Andreas Reckwitz examines the causes, structures and consequences of the society of singularities in which we now live. The transformation from industrial to cultural capitalism, the rise of digital technologies and their 'culture machine' and the emergence of an educated, urban new middle class form a powerful engine for the singularization of the social. In late modernity, what is singular is valorized and stirs the emotions, while what is general has to remain in the background, and this has profound social consequences. The society of singularities systematically produces devaluation and inequality: winner-takes-all markets, job polarization, the neglect of rural regions and the alienation of the traditional middle class. The emergence of populism and the rise of aggressive forms of nationalism which emphasize the cultural authenticity of one's own people thus turn out to be the other side of singularization. This prize-winning book offers a new perspective on how modern societies have changed in recent decades and it will be of great value to anyone interested in the forces that are shaping our world today.
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Everywhere we see how culture is giving rise to new conflicts and classes. A sociologist offers a clever general theory of our time. Die Zeit Reckwitz has written a special book, an original take on our contemporary world. Literatur Spiegel Anyone who wishes to understand our times should definitely read Andreas Reckwitz. Deutschlandfunk Kultur Only a few books fundamentally alter the way you look at the world. Reckwitzs The Society of Singularities ranks among them by offering an unfamiliar lens that makes visible the hidden dynamics of singularization that shape todays economy, technology, and culture. Reading this profound book will help you to create meaning out of seemingly unrelated phenomena, whether you're puzzled by the latest lifestyle trends, crises on social media, or the identity struggles of youth, to name just a few. Urs Gasser, Harvard University The search for particularity and distinctiveness is a basic feature of contemporary culture. It exists both on the basis of and in tension with continued rationalization and large-scale economic integration and material infrastructure. To understand what has changed and where the continuities lie, Andreas Reckwitz draws on a broad range of social and cultural theory and develops a comprehensive view that repays thoughtful attention. Craig Calhoun, Arizona State University
Andreas Reckwitz is Professor of Cultural Sociology at the European University Viadrina, Frankfurt an der Oder.
Acknowledgements Introduction: The Proliferation of the Particular I. Modernity Between the Social Logic of the General and the Social Logic of the Particular 1: The Social Logic of the General Modernity and Generality Typifications and Rationalizations Standardization, Formalization, Generalization Objects, Subjects, Spaces, Times, and Collectives in the Social Logic of the General Industrial Modernity as a Prototype 2: The Social Logic of the Particular The General-Particular, Idiosyncrasies, Singularities Objects, Subjects, Spaces, Times, and Collectives in the Social Logic of Singularities Practices of Singularization I: Observation and Evaluation Practices of Singularization II: Production and Appropriation Performativity as a Mode of Praxis and Automated Singularization 3: Culture and Culturalization Culture as a Sphere of Valorization and De-Valorization Culturalization Versus Rationalization Qualities of Cultural Praxis: Between Sense and Sensibility 4: The Transformation of the Cultural Sphere Premodern Societies: The Fixation and Repetition of the Singular Bourgeois Modernity: The Romantic Revolution of the Unique Organized Modernity: Mass Culture Late Modernity: Competitive Singularities, Hyperculture, and Polarization II. The Post-Industrial Economy of Singularities Beyond Industrial Society Unleashing the Creative Economy 1: Unique Goods in Cultural Capitalism The Culturalization of Goods Singular Goods: Originality and Rarity Things as Singular Goods Services, Media Formats, and Events as Singular Goods Features of Singular Goods I: The Performance of Authenticity Features of Singular Goods II: Moment and Duration Features of Singular Goods III: Circulation and Hyperculture 2: Cultural Singularity Markets Attractiveness Markets as Markets of Attention and Valorization The Cultural Economization of the Economy and Society Overproduction and Winner-Take-All Competitions Buzz Effects and the Struggle for Visibility Valorization Techniques and Reputation Singularity Capital Quantifying the Unique III: The Singularization of the Working World The Cultural Economization of Labor and Its Polarization 1: Practices of Labor and Organization in the Creative Economy Cultural Production as Creative Labor Projects as Heterogeneous Collaborations Organizational Cultures and Networks 2: The Singularization and Self-Singularization of Working Subjects Beyond the Formalization of Labor The Profile Subject: Competencies and Talents The Singularization Techniques of Labor Fields of Tension in Highly Qualified Labor: Between the Artist's Dilemma and the Superstar Economy IV: Digitalization as Singularization: The Rise of the Culture Machine From Industrial Technics to Digital Technology 1: The Technology of Culturalization Algorithms, Digitality, and the Internet as Infrastructures The Digital Culture Machine and the Ubiquity of Culture Culture Between Overproduction and Recombination 2: Cultural and Automated Processes of Singularization The Digital Subject: Performative Authenticity and Visibility Compositional Singularity and the Form of the Profile Big Data and the Observation of Profiles The Personalized Internet and Softwarization Digital Neo-Communities and the Sociality of the Internet Fields of Tension in Online Culture: From the Pressure to Create Profiles to Extreme Affect Culture V: The Singularistic Life: Lifestyles, Cl