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Modernity - Essay Example

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Sociology is a modern discipline. It was called into being by the emergence of a new type of social reality, heralded by the French Revolution and accompanied (some would say produced) by the Industrial one, which both prompted and made possible the reexamination of society as such…
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Modernity
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Modernity

Download file to see previous pages... The new society replaced the traditional social order in Europe, the ancient regime, and, the opposition between ancients and moderns being a long tradition was called "modern." The nature of modern society and the conditions of transition to modernity have been at the center of concernsThis venerable tradition has been continued on this continent in the form of modernization theory and later, somewhat euphemistically, theory of development.Tradition weighs heavily on the study of modern society. Our views of it are still to a large extent defined by the ideas of our (disciplinary) fathers. It is rarely recognized that the perspective reflected in these ideas was necessarily limited, that for the lack of empirical evidence (the newness of modernity and the lack of experience with it) they had to be highly speculative. The only thing that was known to the first theorists of modernity was the nature of the social order it came to replace. Tradition weighs heavily on the study of modern society. Our views of it are still to a large extent defined by the ideas of our (disciplinary) fathers. It is rarely recognized that the perspective reflected in these ideas was necessarily limited, that for the lack of empirical evidence (the newness of modernity and the lack of experience with it) they had to be highly speculative. The only thing that was known to the first theorists of modernity was the nature of the social order it came to replace. The modernization theory of the 1950s and 1960s, composed as it was predominantly of structuralist-functionalist as well as Marxist and neo-Marxist approaches (which, it should be kept in mind, are also structuralist and functionalist), was at its basis a variety of historical materialism.( Marx, 65) In the framework of the modernization theory, as in the framework of classical Marxism, history was viewed as a linear progression through definite stages, culminating in a particular, known stage (modernity) in which all societies would at some point converge. The mechanism behind this progression, in modernization theory as in Marxism, was assumed to be economic: industrialization driven by capitalist (or commercial) interests was the fundamental factor in the process, and it was this features of societies commonly seen as modern and those commonly seen as traditional. Its explanation of its emergence would be based On empirical historical research.
It has been widely recognized that it is not a relic of the past, bound to disappear with the advancement of the modern Order, as Marx has prophesied in the Communist Manifesto, and today it is usually included among the elements of modernity. The nature of this recent theorizing, however, is not new. Essentially, as in earlier sociological attempts to conceptualize nationalism within the framework of the modernization paradigm, nationalism is viewed as a cultural and psychological function of the process of modernization, a Superstructural product of its basic "objective" structures. (Marx, 110) The emergence of' nationalism is seen as tightly connected to the modern phenomenon of state-formation and as related to the trend of the secularization of culture. But almost invariably the factor truly responsible for its rise (as well as for the development of the state and secularization) is believed to be economic: in the final analysis (to use an appropriate turn of speech) nationalism is explained as a functional prerequisite or product of industrialization and capitalism.
In this respect theories of modernity of the historical materialist derivation on the whole proved very adaptable. Such political adaptability may be attributed on the one hand to their general vagueness, and, on the other, to the fact that they either incorporated or could be interpreted easily as social ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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