Regarding Mr. Wu, a dragon and conversations in traffic : social acceleration, deceleration and re-acceleration in Shanghai

Alexander Gray Cockain

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review


Based upon ethnographic data gathered in Shanghai, this paper explores residents’ experiences of, and responses to, living within an environment, which displays features of what Rosa terms ‘social acceleration’. After exploring anxieties induced in residents who feel sedentary – relative to others – and their attempts to cope with this, this paper focuses upon how residents’ attitudes towards social acceleration become refracted in imaginative forms, especially texts currently circulating within Shanghai, which insinuate ostensibly supernatural characters into certain prominent locations in the city. As these texts critique ‘progress’ and register residents’ anxieties regarding social acceleration so they smooth over disquiet and unease thereby encouraging not only discourses of development but also the patterns, pace and tempo of social acceleration. The final part of this paper explores the costs of ‘slowdown’, arguing these are sufficient to compel residents not only to re-engage with, and therefore perpetuate, socially accelerating forms but perhaps even to intensify them, hence the deployment of the term ‘re-acceleration’ in the title of this paper.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-21
Number of pages21
JournalTime & society
Publication statusPublished - 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science

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