Intensive Culture. Social Theory, Religion and Contemporary Capitalism
By Scott Lash, SAGE Publications Ltd, Goldsmiths College, London 2011, 256 pp, ISBN:9781412945172
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 characterised as intensive. This thought-provoking, innovative book is dedicated to the study of such intensive culture. Whilst 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.
The author of the book, Scott Lash, tracks the emergence and pervasion of this intensive culture in society, religion, philosophy, language, communications, politics and the neo-liberal economy itself. In so doing, he redefines the work of Leibniz, Benjamin, Simmel, and Durkheim, and initiates the reader into the ontological structures of our contemporary social relations. In the pursuit of intensive culture the reader is taken on an excursion from Karl Marx's Capital to the 'information theology' in the science fiction of Philip K. Dick. 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.
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