This is a short book about the most prominent sign of our times. The simple # sign is now used so widely that it is easy to overlook the fundamental effects it has had in the structuring of public debate. With its help, statements are bundled together and discourse is organized and amplified around common buzzwords. This method enables us to navigate more easily the huge volume of online utterances, but it also increases the risk of leveling statements and extinguishing difference, as exemplified by the #MeToo debate. Andreas Bernard traces the young and spectacular career of the humble hashtag. He follows the history of the # sign, documenting its use by Twitter and Instagram, and then examines the most prominent contemporary domains of the sign in socio-political activism and in marketing - two apparently very different fields which are united in their passion for the hashtag. Theory of the Hashtag shines a bright light on a small but pervasive feature of our contemporary digital culture and shows how it is surreptitiously shaping the public sphere.
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 Industrial society's logic of the general has been replaced by late modernity's logic of the particular.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.
Contemporary society has seen an unprecedented rise in both the demand and the desire to be creative, to bring something new into the world. Once the reserve of artistic subcultures, creativity has now become a universal model for culture and an imperative in many parts of society.
In this new book, cultural sociologist Andreas Reckwitz investigates how the ideal of creativity has grown into a major social force, from the art of the avant-garde and postmodernism to the `creative industries' and the innovation economy, the psychology of creativity and self-growth, the media representation of creative stars, and the urban design of `creative cities'. Where creativity is often assumed to be a force for good, Reckwitz looks critically at how this imperative has developed from the 1970s to the present day. Though we may well perceive creativity as the realization of some natural and innate potential within us, it has rather to be understood within the structures of a very specific culture of the new in late modern society. The Invention of Creativity is a bold and refreshing counter to conventional wisdom that shows how our age is defined by radical and restrictive processes of social aestheticization. It will be of great interest to those working in a variety of disciplines, from cultural and social theory to art history and aesthetics.
Social theory needs to be completely rethought in a world of digital media and social media platforms driven by data processes. Fifty years after Berger and Luckmann published their classic text The Social Construction of Reality, two leading sociologists of media, Nick Couldry and Andreas Hepp, revisit the question of how social theory can understand the processes through which an everyday world is constructed in and through media. Drawing on Schütz, Elias and many other social and media theorists, they ask: what are the implications of digital media's profound involvement in those processes? Is the result a social world that is stable and liveable, or one that is increasingly unstable and unliveable?
Until fairly recently, only serial killers and lunatics had profiles. Yet today, almost everyone is profiled through social media, mobile phones, and a multitude of other methods. But where does the idea of "profiling" come from, how has it changed over time, and what are its implications? In this book, Andreas Bernard examines contemporary profiling's roots in late-nineteenth-century criminology, psychology, and psychiatry. Data collection techniques previously used exclusively by police or to identify groups of people are now applied to all individuals in society. GPS transmitters and measuring devices are now unconsciously embraced to have fun, communicate, make money, or even find a partner. Drawing perceptive parallels between modern technologies and their antecedents, Bernard shows how we have unwittingly internalized what were once instruments of external control and repression. This illuminating genealogy of contemporary digital culture will be of interest to students and scholars in media and communication, and to anyone concerned about the power technologies hold over our lives.
What does it mean that we can be reached on our mobile phones wherever we are and at all times? What are the cultural consequences if we are informed about `everything and anything important' via television? How are our political, religious and ethnic belongings impacted through being increasingly connected by digital media? And what is the significance of all this for our everyday lives? Drawing on Hepp's fifteen-year research expertise on media change, this book deals with questions like these in a refreshingly straightforward and readable way. `Cultures of mediatization' are described as cultures whose main resources are mediated by technical media. Therefore, everyday life in cultures of mediatization is `moulded' by the media. To understand this challenging media change it is inappropriate to focus on any one single medium like television, the press, mobile phones, the Internet or other forms of digital media. One has to capture the `mediatization' of culture in its entirety. Cultures of Mediatization outlines how this can be done critically. In so doing, it offers a new way of thinking about our present-day media-saturated world.