Speeding Up Fast Capitalism: Cultures, Jobs, Families, Schools, Bodies

Speeding Up Fast Capitalism: Cultures, Jobs, Families, Schools, Bodies

Ben Agger

Language: English

Pages: 192

ISBN: 1594510334

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

In his 1989 book, Fast Capitalism, Ben Agger presented a framework for understanding late-20th century social problems. Speeding Up Fast Capitalism, a sequel to his earlier book, assesses social changes since the end of the 1980s brought about by information technologies like the Internet, which have quickened the pace of everyday life. In Speeding Up Fast Capitalism, Agger assesses the impact of the Internet on consciousness, communication, culture and community, and evaluates the prospects of democratic social change. Where the earlier book was largely theoretical, Speeding Up applies critical theory to specific topics such as Internet culture, work, families, childhood, schooling, food, the body and fitness. Although indebted to Fast Capitalism, the sequel appeals to an audience wider than theorists, including empirical sociologists, social scientists and scholars in cultural disciplines.

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Although America is modern in certain respects, with a republican form of democracy and a vast industrial potential, it is premodern in other respects, with atavistic racism and pockets of both urban and rural poverty. Cities are unsafe and crime-ridden. People use alcohol and drugs in copious quantities. The younger generation of nonwhite urban dwellers is ill-educated, hopeless, and largely unemployed. As I explore in the following chapter, some people enjoy careers, with the prospect of

decolonizing the family and familizing work. What should the feminist agenda be? Christopher Lasch, a historian sympathetic to the Frankfurt School, argued that we should view the family as a haven in a heartless world (1977). Social policy and activism should defend the family against unwanted intrusions, such as telework. But left-wing feminists such as dalla Costa and James would argue that the family is not, and has never been, a world apart; it is a power structure and work site

full citizenship both as political actors and as economic agents. They went to work alongside men, although, curiously, they remain primarily responsible for the household and children. As I noted in chapter 3, women are increasingly pressed for time, doing both paid work and domestic work. Families and households today are more likely to have two earners than one, a fateful outcome of the admixture of Victorianism and feminism. By the beginning of the twenty-first century, the household has

the site of homework, take-out meals, nighttime entertainment, and sleep (what little there is of it). To portray the slower family, that of my childhood, as a golden age is an exaggeration and ignores the plight of women assigned chores and caretaking but not given income or political purchase. Betty Friedan in her Feminine Mystique (1963) started second-wave American feminism (the first wave was the fight for suffrage, the right to vote) by noticing that suburban moms, like my own, were bored

critical consciousness and discourages utopia as well as revolution. We begin to learn these lessons in school and in our early play groups (see Bowles and Gintis 1976). Many report cards have grades for “citizenship,” which combines conformity and obedience. As kids we are also taught instrumental rationality, how to study for tests and turn in homework in order to earn good grades that will ease our way into comfortable adulthood. By the time we get to high school, many American kids already

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