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Motivated by these theoretical and political concerns, this volume aims to provide a comprehensive survey of historical and contemporary perspectives on the following set of pressing temporal questions:1. What forms of acceleration are empirically observable in modern society?

Which social arenas, spheres, institutions, or structures in fact change at higher rates than in the past?

In what sense—if any—is it justifiable to speak of the acceleration of social acceleration on the individual and on the texture of social life? Is there a logical end point toward which changes in temporal structure converge? What critical potential might an analysis of the temporal structures of society yield?

In our view, the concept of acceleration holds out the promise of shedding fresh light on a host of political and social pathologies plaguing contemporary society.

Although the diverse theoretical perspectives represented here offer no easy answers concerning the best way to overcome those pathologies, and although some of the authors included here endorse politically quiescent and even reactionary answers to the challenges of speed, we believe that paying closer attention to the high-speed contours of contemporary society ultimately places its core attributes in a critical light.

In short, figures as a striking feature of prominent diagnoses of contemporary social development.

The observation of a change in (spatio-)temporal structures also underlies present debates about globalization, as does the postmodern fascination with experiences of simultaneity and instantaneousness and fragmentation of identity. Even in otherwise serious and analytically impressive intellectual work, too often the simplistic claim is made that in modern societies more or less everything is speeding up.

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