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A pace of life indicator. Development and validation of a General Acceleration Scale

Bergener, Jens; Santarius, Tilman

FG Sozial-ökologische Transformation

Ever since Georg Simmel (1895) introduced the notion into sociological accounts of modernity, scholars have tried to empirically test the claim of an increasing “speed of life” in modern society. The acceleration of speed or pace of life has been characterized as an “intensification” of our experience of time, a “time squeeze,” and “hurriedness” in leisure time. However, to date, no comprehensive instrument, scale, or indicator has been developed that is grounded in solid theory and serves to empirically measure and compare the pace of life in a straightforward manner. The purpose of this research is to develop and validate a scale-based measure that reveals whether individuals pursue a fast or slow pace of life in a leisure-time context. The result is the fifteen-item General Acceleration Scale (GAS), which conceptually rests on the comprehensive theory of social acceleration by Hartmut Rosa (2013). The scale systematically tests the pace of life along four temporal strategies of speedup: performing activities faster, doing multitasking, replacing time-consuming by time-saving activities, and filling breaks or waiting times with productive activities. If these temporal strategies form a consistent pattern, they consequently lead to an increase in the rate, speed, or relative density of experiences and activities per unit of time and thus to an increase in the pace of life. Validation of the GAS was completed by a large sample (N = 1161) as part of a self-report online survey in Germany in 2019. We examined the convergent and discriminant validity as well as internal consistency reliability of the scale and conducted a confirmatory factor analysis via maximum likelihood estimation. Control variables and discriminant measures were included to access construct validity. Overall, we can validate the GAS as a reliable measure of time use that can be used as a straightforward pace of life indicator.
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  • This publication is with permission of the rights owner freely accessible due to an Alliance licence and a national licence (funded by the DFG, German Research Foundation) respectively.