Centre for Advanced Study

at the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters

In Sync: How Synchronization and Mediation Produce Collective Times, Then and Now


Active 2018/2019 Social Sciences - Law


Living in a society means doing and experiencing things together. Collectives are formed by people performing similar or related actions at the same time, in sync, so to speak. Synchronized collective actions and experiences include political elections, sports events, demonstrations, parades, as well as other public rituals or performances; however, they are by no means limited to these kinds of spectacular happenings. On the contrary, all forms of social action are in some way or another based on collective and synchronized times. But these synchronized collective times do not exist in and by themselves. They are always the result of work, and this work crucially involves and employs a wide range of communicative genres carried by different media.

This discovery of the link between synchronization and mediation represents the starting point of the project In Sync, as well as its research goal: During its stay at CAS, the project aims to explore and explain how social collectives are constituted through mediated synchronization, by which different and often conflicting time frames and temporal regimes are adjusted and adapted in order to form a collective and shared time. This work of synchronization takes place within or across social and cultural contexts by means of a set of media, both printed and electronic, both analogue and digital. The close connection between synchronization and mediation will be studied both across time, from the 18th century till today, and across space, in different cultural and geographic contexts. Broadly situated within the interpretive humanities and social sciences, the project is interdisciplinary, with an emphasis on cultural/conceptual history, media studies, and ethnography.

An international group of researchers from Scandinavia, the US and Germany will be hosted by CAS in the academic year 2018/19, complemented by associated junior researchers. A wider range of researchers will also be drawn on, via a kickoff seminar and final conference, as well as an ongoing research seminar. Research outcomes will be published via publications that include a themed section of the journal Theory and Society, and a volume in Berghahn's interdisciplinary book series Time and the World. The project managers also aim to host seminars with non-profit Norwegian actors and write op-eds in national newspapers.


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