Gilles Lipovetsky, Jean Serroy

World Culture Publication date : October 2, 2008

The current hypermodern age has deeply transformed the meaning, function and economics of culture. Culture is no longer an ensemble of works and knowledge that enhances and gives direction to experience. It has become a world culture, ruled by global techno-capitalism, vast cultural industries, total consumerism, and media and digital networks.

On one hand, culture is now an economic sector like any other — and a growing one at that; on the other, it has massively infiltrated every sector. No branch of business or industry can now afford to ignore aesthetic criteria, technical and scientific research, or the development of lifestyles and emotional responses.

Today, culture is everywhere but its centre is nowhere. Its development is focussed on four main hubs: hyper-capitalism, high tech, individualism, and consumerism.

This new state of affairs not only challenges academic institutions, museums, publishing, and national cultures, it also undermines education, the social fabric, and the rules that make it easier to live with others. Yet, at the same time, it has opened previously unsuspected possibilities, unprecedented margins of freedom.

This book does not simply analyse the transformation of our civilisation. It also offers solutions to some of the problems created by social upheaval, with particular emphasis on education, the collective acceptance of shared values, and the influence of European culture.

Gilles Lipovetsky is a professor of philosophy at the University of Grenoble and a member of the French Council for Social Analysis. He is the author of L'Ere du vide (1983), L'Empire de l'éphémère (1987) and Le Bonheur paradoxal (2006), and the co-author (with Jean Serroy) of L'Ecran global (2007).

Jean Serroy is a professor of French literature at the University of Grenoble.