Lost in Perfection: Impacts of Optimisation on Culture and Psyche, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Lost in Perfection

Impacts of Optimisation on Culture and Psyche, 1st Edition

Edited by Vera King, Benigna Gerisch, Hartmut Rosa


198 pages

Purchasing Options:$ = USD
Paperback: 9780367897260
pub: 2020-01-17
Available for pre-order. Item will ship after 17th January 2020
Hardback: 9781138894365
pub: 2018-07-26
eBook (VitalSource) : 9781315179964
pub: 2018-07-16
from $27.48

FREE Standard Shipping!


The permanent struggle for optimisation can be seen as one of the most significant cultural principles of contemporary Western societies: the demand for improved performance and efficiency as well as the pursuit of self-improvement are con-sidered necessary in order to keep pace with an accelerated, competitive modern-ity. This affects not only work and education, but also family life, parent–child relationships and intimate relationships in respect to the body and the self, in regard to the public as well as the private realm. Bringing together contributions from renowned scholars from the fields of sociology, psychology and psycho-analysis, this book explores the impacts of optimisation on culture and psyche, examining the contradictions and limitations of optimisation, in conjunction with the effects of social transformations on individuals and shifts in regard to the meaning of ‘pathology’ and ‘normality’.

Table of Contents

Introduction: ‘Lost in Perfection’ – Ideals and Performances (Vera King, Benigna Gerisch, Hartmut Rosa)

Part I: Optimisation in Economy and Working Life

1. Optimisation in Context of Financialisation (Eve Chiapello)

2. The Subject in the Marketplace, the Subject as a Marketplace (Ulrich Bröckling)

3. The Missing Link: How Organisations Bridge the Gap between Dynamic Stabilisation and Individual Optimisation (Hartmut Rosa, Diana Lindner, Jörg Oberthür)

Part II: Changes in Intersubjectivity – Pathologies of the Social

4. "Fitter, Happier, More Productive": Optimising Time with Technology (Judy Wajcman)

5. Optimising Patterns of Life Conduct – Transformations in Relations to the Self and to Others, especially in Generational Care (Vera King, Julia Schreiber, Niels Uhlendorf, Benigna Gerisch)

6. The Two Meanings of the Notion of Social Pathology: Toward an Anthropology of Adversity in Individualistic Society (Alain Ehrenberg)

Part III: The Optimised Self

7. The Authoritarian Dimension in Digital Self-Tracking – Containment, Commodification, Subjugation (Steffen Krüger)

8. The Truth of Fear (Heinz Bude)

9. Perfection, Sublimation and Idealisation (Sophie de Mijolla-Mellor)

10. A Pathological Organization Based on a Longing for Perfection (Heinz Weiß, Heinrich Merkt)

Part IV: Optimisation of the Body

11. Optimisation by Knife: On Types of Biographical Appropriation of Aesthetic Surgery in Late Modernity (Benigna Gerisch, Benedikt Salfeld, Christiane Beerbom, Katarina Busch, Vera King)

12. Fighting Death with Aesthetic Medicine. The Rise of Minimal Invasive Procedures in Times of Self-Optimisation (Ada Borkenhagen)

13. Rationalising Life by Means of Self-Optimisation. The Obsessive-Compulsive Excess of Gustav Großmann. A Striking Example for the Rationalistic Bookkeeper-Personality (Jürgen Straub)

Conclusions (Vera King, Benigna Gerisch, Hartmut Rosa)


About the Editors

Vera King is Professor of Sociology and Social Psychology at Goethe University and Managing Director of the Sigmund Freud Institute, Frankfurt a.M., Germany.

Benigna Gerisch is Professor of Clinical Psychology, Psychoanalysis, Intervention and Psychodynamic Counselling at International Psychoanalytic University, Berlin, Germany. She trained as a psychoanalyst and is a member of the International Psychoanalytic Association (IPA).

Hartmut Rosa is Professor of Sociology at Jena University and Director of the Max-Weber-Center, Germany. He is the author of Social Acceleration: A New Theory of Modernity.

About the Series

Classical and Contemporary Social Theory

Classical and Contemporary Social Theory
Classical and Contemporary Social Theory publishes rigorous scholarly work that re-discovers the relevance of social theory for contemporary times, demonstrating the enduring importance of theory for modern social issues. The series covers social theory in a broad sense, inviting contributions on both 'classical' and modern theory, thus encompassing sociology, without being confined to a single discipline. As such, work from across the social sciences is welcome, provided that volumes address the social context of particular issues, subjects, or figures and offer new understandings of social reality and the contribution of a theorist or school to our understanding of it. The series considers significant new appraisals of established thinkers or schools, comparative works or contributions that discuss a particular social issue or phenomenon in relation to the work of specific theorists or theoretical approaches. Contributions are welcome that assess broad strands of thought within certain schools or across the work of a number of thinkers, but always with an eye toward contributing to contemporary understandings of social issues and contexts.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology / General