Social Theory, Religion & Contemporary Capitalism
- Scott Lash - University of Oxford, UK, Goldsmiths, University of London, UK
Contemporary culture, today's capitalism - our global information society - is ever expanding, is ever more extensive. And yet we seem to be experiencing a parallel phenomenon which can only be characterized as intensive.
This book is dedicated to the study of such intensive culture. While extensive culture is a culture of the same: a culture of fixed equivalence; intensive culture is a culture of difference, of in-equivalence – the singular. Intensities generate what we encounter. They are virtuals or possibilities, always in process and always in movement.
We thus live in a culture that is both extensive and intensive. Indeed the more globally stretched and extensive social relations become the more they simultaneously seem to take on this intensity. Ours is a relational world where each intensity — whether human, technological or biological — provides a distinct, specific window onto the whole.
Lash carefully defines and distinguishes the intensive from the extensive tracking this change through key areas of social life including:
In so doing he redefines the work of Leibniz, Benjamin, Simmel, Durkheim and Marx and introduces the reader to the ontological structures of our contemporary social relations.
Diverse, engaging and rich in detail the resulting book will be of interest to all those studying social and cultural theory, sociology, media and communication and cultural studies.
This book makes a vital contribution to our understanding of contemporary culture. It re-reads key thinkers such as Nietzsche, Leibniz, Simmel, Benjamin, Bergson in order to assert the primacy of the vital and the social against the closed mind of instrumental reason. It develops an innovative theoretical platform to account for the place of the informational, the intensive, and the religious for re-thinking the fundamental questions of life, and how to live today. It is a fitting summation of Scott Lash's challenging reorganization of critical and sociological theory
Nottingham Trent University
This book is an engagement with the continuing dissolution of the symbolic in contemporary communication, in a critical reflection on thinkers ranging from Aristotle to Leibniz to Luhmann. It is a provocative archaeology of today's 'cultural capitalism' and of its metaphysical baggage. For Scott Lash the opposition between 'intensive' and the 'extensive', i.e. Leibniz's distinction between 'substance' and 'system', is eroded in the age of informational capitalism, as words become things and things become data. For Lash the future of capitalism is one in which this intensity takes over the logic - as 'intensive materialism' - of the economy itself. Yet this very process entails the dissolution of both intensity and with it of the singular. Lash pursues this compelling line of thought through encounters with Simmel, Benjamin, Durkheim and Philip K. Dick (!)
Director of the Department of Cultural Development at the Centre Georges-Pompidou