1. The present is the temporality proper to the social. Following Deleuze’s remarkable analysis of time in Difference and Repetition, this claim may be read in two different ways, each implying a vision of society itself. On the one hand, in keeping with mainstream economics, psychology and what we could call ‘ego sociology’, the social solely consists of human agents, each confronting the range of options for every given choice in cognitive solitude, and acting to attain their rationally determined preferences. From this point of view, there is only the present, because all there is to the social is this perennial act of choice. The past, as former presents, has no bearing or grip on the present present because the passage of time makes no difference to the rational agent itself. The future, as the next choice, does not yet exist — but it comes to the same thing to say that the future is already present in the present, embodied in the rational agent itself; for, if time makes no difference to the one who chooses, then this formal function remains invariant. This can also be put in a third way: that, from this point of view, time makes no difference at all to agency in the social — which is to say that there is no time. That infamous Thatcherite emblem of neo-conservative and libertarian discourse, that there is no society, follows from this. The first way of interpreting the statement that the present is the temporality proper to the social is thus that the present qua agency is all that the social is.


Social Formation Mainstream Economic Childhood Memory Empty Form Capitalist Social Formation 
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Copyright information

© Jon Roffe 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of New South WalesAustralia

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