Social Freezing—About the Biologization of Risks, the Cryotechnological Pausing of Time and the Preservation of Options

Isabelle Bosbach


In the context of an economically oriented, accelerated, multi-optional and reflexive modernity, the successful Existenzbastelei [existence tinkering] (HITZLER & HONER 2012 [1994]) of the contemporary human is placed in relation to efficient management of one's own lifetime. The societal relevance of a plannable handling of time is also expressed in technological developments that hold out the prospect of solutions to perceived temporal incompatibilities, such as social freezing: Women who find their life incompatible with family planning can thus remove oocytes for future use.

This article is contextualized by my research project in which I investigate the relationship between concern for a potentially endangered body in the future and cryotechnological, body-related precautions and related notions of time, body and life. I explore the phenomenon social freezing, which is classified as an attempt to reconcile temporal incompatibility against a background of individualization theory and framed through the genesis of cryobiology. The first results of a discourse analysis of the expert discourse from the perspective of the sociology of knowledge are presented. Thereby I examined which notions of time are fundamental to the phenomenon, how time is discoursed by experts as a controllable resource, and whether social change in the handling of time can be derived.


social freezing; cryobiology; cryotechnology; technological protection of options; sociology of knowledge approach to discourse; individualization theory


Copyright (c) 2020 Isabelle Bosbach

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