The article uses the Danish cartoon controversy as its ethnographic prism to explore what happens in qualitative terms when a social phenomenon accelerates in quantitative terms. It demonstrates that such a phenomenon may not only imply the growth of ‘‘things’’ (prices, number of demonstrations, number of text messages, etc.) and an increased spatial distribution (from local issue to global concern), but also that the qualitative scales underpinning and generating such changes are themselves often changed in the process.
The article seeks to rethink change through a particular kind of sudden acceleration where the terms of change itself change as well as asking questions of causality and scale:
“If we accept that the epidemic spread of imitations and positive feedback mechanisms are key to understanding accelerations, then we are invited to ask questions about how imitation happens, how momenta are ignited and gain force, and what it takes for them to persist”.
Read their theoretical contribution on the concept of escalation here