Gilles Lipovetsky

Gilles Lipovetsky is a major French social philosopher famous for his theory of ‘hypermodernity’. Currently a Professor at the University of Grenoble, he began his career as a Marxist but has gradually abandoned this perspective in favour of a complex set of ideas examining the individualistic basis of what he diagnoses as ‘hypermodernity’. This is a condition characterized by the breakdown of traditional structures of duty and meaning and the creation of generations of fragile, alienated individuals afflicted by an extreme, albeit empty, hedonism, a desire for speed and instant gratification and an obsession with the here-and-now, trends exacerbated by the internet and social media. He argues that this process has made the ephemeral and vacuous world of fashion the primary metaphor of contemporary social life, with short-term pleasure-seeking and hyper-consumerism giving rise to mounting levels of anxiety and stress. These themes are explored in his Polity book Hypermodern Times.