Becomings or fixity?

Intersectional challenges to reductive power relations




Social Acceleration, Intersectional eugenics, Becomings, Fixing inequalities


This paper examines the notion of acceleration as simultaneously dynamic and fast moving but underpinned by legacies from an earlier age that inform their development and the ways in which they inflect social life. It shows how sites of dynamic social acceleration can shift and change its focus over time, while (implicitly) maintaining the same logic of unequal power relations. In order to produce social justice and equality, it is, therefore, necessary to understand the logic and ideologies that underpin social relations and technological developments. The paper starts by illustrating the ways in which social acceleration is both longstanding and constitute ideologies of their time. It then considers the thinking of the UK psychologist Francis Galton, the cousin of Charles Darwin, and the legacy of his work. The third section presents the theoretical resources on which the paper draws. The paper then considers three examples of measurements that reproduce unequal power relations by fixing inequalities in their assumptions, even though they exemplify social acceleration. The three examples are parenting styles, unconscious bias and algorithms. The final main part of the paper considers possibilities for change by briefly historicising statistics and considering how they can be rethought. It also briefly discusses insider resistance to ideological fixity that reproduces and amplifies social inequalities of, for example, racialisation, gender and social class.

Author Biography

Ann Phoenix, Social Research Institute, University College London, Institute of Education

Ann Alison Phoenix is Professor of Psychosocial Studies at the Thomas Coram Research Unit, Social Research Institute, UCL Institute of Education. She is a Fellow of the British Academy and the Academy of Social Sciences and is on the Trust Board of the Nuffield Foundation, which has a mission to advance educational opportunity and social wellbeing through its research funding. Her research is mainly about social identities and the ways in which psychological experiences and social processes are linked and intersectional. It includes work on racialised and gendered identities; family lives and home; migration and transnational families.




How to Cite

Phoenix, A. (2021). Becomings or fixity? Intersectional challenges to reductive power relations. International Review of Theoretical Psychologies, 1(2).