The Society of Singularities
The Society of Singularities

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 Industrial society’s logic of the general has been replaced by late modernity’s logic of the particular.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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  • June 2020
  • 402 pages
  • 152 x 229 mm / 6 x 9 in
Available Formats
  • Hardback $45.00
  • 9781509534227
  • Open eBook $45.00
  • 9781509534241
Table of Contents
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
2: The Social Logic of the Particular
3: Culture and Culturalization
4: The Transformation of the Cultural Sphere
II. The Post-Industrial Economy of Singularities
1: Unique Goods in Cultural Capitalism
2: Cultural Singularity Markets
III: The Singularization of the Working World
1: Practices of Labor and Organization in the Creative Economy
2: The Singularization and Self-Singularization of Working Subjects
IV: Digitalization as Singularization: The Rise of the Culture Machine
1: The Technology of Culturalization
2: Cultural and Automated Processes of Singularization
V: The Singularistic Life: Lifestyles, Classes, Subject Forms
1: The Lifestyle of the New Middle Class: Successful Self-Actualization
2: Elements of the Singular Lifestyle
3: The Culturalization of Inequality
VI: Differential Liberalism and Cultural Essentialism: The Transformation of the Political
1: Apertistic-Differential Liberalism and the Politics of the Local
2: The Rise of Cultural Essentialism
Conclusion: The Crisis of the General?
About the Author
Andreas Reckwitz is Professor of Cultural Sociology at the European University Viadrina, Frankfurt an der Oder.
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