On the Mortality of Industrial Society

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Author: Ulrich Beck

In sociologist Emelie Durkheim’s perspective, a malnourished public sphere deprives individuals of real social connections. In the face of this Anomie, the cell phone allows an organic social network. Through the subject and the technology combined, the subject can become an Actor on the larger Actor Network. If the human spends time in a non-place, then the addition of a non-place accessed through the telephone tears through the solitary contractility characterized by the non-place. Both the place and the non-place can exist at once, because in the supermodern perspective all dichotomies blur into one another.

“What emerges from the fading social norms is naked, frightened, aggressive ego in search of love and help. The isolated human in the non-place seeks to reconnect with those in proximity, but cannot. In the search for itself and an affectionate sociality, it easily gets lost in the jungle of the self...Someone who is poking around in the fog of his of his or her own self is no longer capable of noticing that this isolation, this ‘solitary confinement of the ego’ is a mass sentence”. The 'solitary-confinement of the ego’ is a mass sentence, that millions of people...are also pacing the prison cells of the self”.[1]


  1. Beck, Ulrick. On the Mortality of Industrial Society, in Ecological enlightenment: essays on the politics of the risk society. Translated by Mark A. Ritter. Humanities Press, 1995. Pg. 40.