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date: 17 November 2019

Abstract and Keywords

The aim of this chapter is to demonstrate the theoretical relevance of the concept of “attention” for understanding the social. Against the backdrop of neurological, psychological, and philosophical insights into this subject matter, and drawing on both classical as well as current theories on this phenomenon, the chapter examine the term’s respective meanings and develops genuinely sociological questions in order to underline the heuristic value of research on this topic. Furthermore, it argues that the (post)modern subject oscillates between being at liberty to bestow his attention at will and being forced to do so, and the social processes accounting for attention gradually becoming an ever more scarce resource are identified. The fields of politics, economy, science, and art are examples to illustrate the fight for attention, followed by a plea for the comprehensive treatment of attention as a key sociological issue.

Keywords: attention, social field, individualization, modernization, mediatization, technicalization

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