Det accelererede arbejdsliv - et studie af accelerationens betydning for arbejdslivets kvalitet

Aske Christensen

Student thesis: Master thesis


The accelerated work life – a study of how acceleration affects contemporary work life The field of accelerated life became an interest as a result of the reading of Alienation and Acceleration (2010) by sociologist Hartmut Rosa. Rosa presents a crucial new chapter in the history of critical theory, which I believe will resonate far into the future. The theory highlights the most essential paradoxical parts of contemporary work life and contemporary life in general, in a structured and refined way: It describes the relentless strive for keeping up with the norms of the high-speed society - as being part of a meaningful life (and the seemingly endless struggle to adjust with the transformation of processes within society itself) while feeling torn inside in the same hasty breath. A lifestyle that can lead to monstrous forms of alienation: from time and space, from things and action, from one self and others. The main purpose of this thesis is to broaden and clarify the mutual relationship between acceleration and modern work life, while developing a critical examination of the pathologies related to the accelerated work life. The thesis theoretical foundation is social constructionism. Critical theory and post-structuralism are used as methodical openers of issues and paradoxes related to the pathologies of accelerated work life. Therefore, this thesis develops Rosas Theory inside the field of work life related knowledge, by connecting the concept of social acceleration to different areas, which are fundamental and crucial in the importance of a meaningful work life. Firstly, the thesis creates an overview and analyzes on the relevance and influence of meaningfulness and recognition, as an ingrown part, of what workers seek in the work today. It shows how work is constituted as a medium or institution for ‘meaning production’. But also how work can be seen as recent times medicine for late-modern pathologies - as long as it is ‘designed’ in relation to certain factors: Such as meaningful answers to the question “why?”, where some of the answers holds a longterm perspective and a consistent direction in the production of meaning. And that the answers are inflicted or implemented with a certain amount of joyfulness. Secondly, the thesis analyzes the importance of the understanding of self and self-reflection, the self and external world, the self and self-evaluation. It illustrates how the historical transformation of self-consciousness, and the thereby following self-evaluation, plays an important dialectic role in the development of the late-modern societies’ hunger for recognition. Furthermore, it determines that the transformation of society along with self-consciousness and self-realization are essential for work life acceleration. In that perspective the individual must possess a reflective perception of its own identity, in the order of having the willingness to create itself through the work as an indicator of social, societal and relational progress and achievement in life. Thirdly, it looks into the transformation of temporality. That would be the change in time and space in mod-ern work life and show that temporality have translated into new kinds of structural temporal behavior: For instance, in the structural transformation of organizations, society, family and in relation to the qualitative and quantitative perceptions. This illustrates different kind of patterns in the perception of time, which can be used as methods for further theoretical and empirical research and development elsewhere. Fourthly, the thesis defines Rosas concept of social acceleration and the motors of social acceleration: Com-petition as the social motor, and the promise of eternity as the cultural motor. The thesis combines the core ideas of social acceleration with the definition of the Project Man – the characteristic of modern career life with high-speed individuals working as networker extenders - and the new-religious sides of, especially, late-modern work life. From that, it develops a method for indication of social acceleration in work life, which is brought into use in the main analyses. It then sets out to analyze, in depth, the following work related areas and concepts: Accelerated work life, borderless work life and the risks of distanciation to space, things, actions, one self and others. It defines the characteristic of the Acceleration Man, by referring to how this kind of individual store Erlebnissen (episodes of experience) and Erfahrungen (experiences which leave a mark defining of one’s identity and history) differently as memory traces. Finally, the thesis discuss in what degree the accelerated work life, from a critical perspective, is in lack of resonance. Thus, in a post-structural optic, the freedom of ‘modern man’ is shown to not be that unlimited free after all.

EducationsWorking Life Studies, (Bachelor/Graduate Programme) Graduate
Publication date28 Apr 2013
SupervisorsHenrik Lambrecht Lund


  • Arbejdsliv
  • Acceleration