The Culture of Speed: The Coming of Immediacy

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SAGE, Sep 27, 2007 - Social Science - 192 pages
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"John Tomlinson's book is an invitation to an adventure. It contains a precious key to unlock the doors into the unmapped and unexplored cultural and ethical condition of 'immediacy'. Without this key concept from now on it will not be possible to make sense of the social existence of our times and its ambivalences."
- Ulrich Beck, University of Munich

"A most welcome, stimulating and challenging exploration of the cultural impact and significance of speed in advanced modern societies. It successfully interweaves theoretical discourse, historical and contemporary analyses and imaginative use of literary sources, all of which are mobilised in order to provide an original, intellectually rewarding and critical account of the changing significance of speed in our everyday experience."
- David Frisby, London School of Economics and Political Science

Is the pace of life accelerating? If so, what are the cultural, social, personal and economic consequences?

This stimulating and accessible book examines how speed emerged as a cultural issue during industrial modernity. The rise of capitalist society and the shift to urban settings was rapid and tumultuous and was defined by the belief in 'progress'. The first obstacle faced by societies that were starting to 'speed up' was how to regulate and control the process. The attempt to regulate the acceleration of life created a new set of problems, namely the way in which speed escapes regulation and rebels against controls. This pattern of acceleration and control subsequently defined debates about the cultural effects of acceleration.

However, in the 21st century 'immediacy', the combination of fast capitalism and the saturation of the everyday by media technologies, has emerged as the core feature of control. This coming of immediacy will inexorably change how we think about and experience media culture, consumption practices, and the core of our cultural and moral values.

Incisive and richly illustrated, this eye-opening account of speed and culture provides an original guide to one of the central features of contemporary culture and everyday life.
 

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Contents

Acknowledgements
The Cultural Significance of Speed
1
2 Machine Speed
14
3 Unruly Speed
44
4 The Condition of Immediacy
72
5 Media
94
6 Delivery
124
7 Deceleration?
146
Bibliography
160
Index
172
Copyright

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Page 5 - Constant revolutionizing of production, uninterrupted disturbance of all social conditions, everlasting uncertainty and agitation, distinguish the bourgeois epoch from all earlier ones. All fixed, fast-frozen relations, with their train of ancient and venerable prejudices and opinions, are swept away, all new-formed ones become antiquated before they can ossify. All that is solid melts into air...
Page 5 - Precision, speed, unambiguity, knowledge of the files, continuity, discretion, unity, strict subordination, reduction of friction and of material and personal costs — these are raised to the optimum point in the strictly bureaucratic administration, and especially in its monocratic form.
Page 13 - Away, with a shriek, and a roar, and a rattle, from the town, burrowing among the dwellings of men and making the streets hum, flashing out into the meadows for a moment, mining in through the damp earth, booming on in darkness and heavy...

About the author (2007)

John Tomlinson's recent work has explored the place of speed within modern telemediated culture, resulting in his latest book, The Culture of Speed: The Coming of Immediacy published by Sage Publications in October 2007. He is currently developing research into the constitution of public culture and cultural values within contemporary capitalist societies.

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