Contemporary Modernity Theory and Postmodern Social Theory
Contemporary Sociological Theory
Dr. David Toews
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
Today we see that most societies are leaning towards a modernist approach. At the same time, modernity has evolved in every aspect of a society. Postmodernity is also present in the world because of its acknowledgment of truth and knowledge. A society cannot be fully modernized, it also must consists of some form of post-modernism. Thus, both theories of modernism and postmodernism can be applied to the real world; modernity is not replaced by post-modernity, however, they work amongst each other. This paper will be analyzing this statement by defining the concepts of contemporary modernity theory and the postmodern social theory. Further analyzed will be the Globalization Theory and the McDonaldization Theory. Modernity is known to be a sense of social order. It involves a society that is described to be modern with the world changing due to human interventions, an open market economy and the denomination of nation-states. The contemporary modernity theorists believe that “we continue to live in a society that still can best be described as modern about which we can theorize in much the same way that social thinkers have long contemplated society.” (Ritzer, pg. 81) Social thinkers that are relevant in this sense, which have contemplated society in their work, are Max Weber, Karl Marx, Emile Durkheim, and Georg Simmel. They are all classical theorists. Their works are based on predictions of the way society will evolve in terms of how it was during their time period, during early 19th century. Their theories concluded that there is evidence of modernity in societies. And these modernist attributes may evolve as the years go by and things change, unless something is done about it. A theorist who supports the argument of modern theory is Anthony Giddens. Giddens explains the concepts of time and space while distinguishing the modern society, also the concepts of disembedding and reflexivity. He suggests that in a modern society time and space are not interrelated or connected in any way. For instance, taking a greyhound trip to Toronto from Windsor takes about five hours and thirty minutes, as opposed to driving there on your own with your own car takes about three hours. This shows that space is not relevant to time. Time is also, therefore, not linked to certain places. We cannot accurately give a specific time as to how long it takes to get to a certain location. The other concept defined by Giddens is disembedding. Disembedding is the freedom we are use to as modern people. Also the disconnection we have from the mere interactions and time and space. Symbolic tokens and expert systems, such as money and phones, are a form of disembedding. Modern societies cannot function without symbolic tokens or expert systems. For example, society cannot function without money, and we have become too reliant on money. Finally, reflexivity is a consequence of time and space because people have to cope with uncertainty. Modern people have to examine themselves in terms of if they are achieving their goals. And since things are constantly changing, they must be flexible and revise their goals. For instance, when one is in a relationship with someone, they must examine themselves to see how they are doing in the relationship; if they are being the right person for the other individual. The rise of capitalism and globalization is a huge contribution to modernity. The drive for companies to profit in means of exploitation, trade, and market inflation allowed certain societies to rely on modern attributes. Science and technology is known to be two of the many important aspects of modernity. We all rely on these aspects to determine the way we think and live. A modernist holds...
References: Kivisto, P. (2008). Illuminating Social Life: Classical and Contemporary Theory Revised. (4th ed.). London: Sage Publications Ltd.
Ritzer, G. (2004). Modern Sociological Theory. (6th ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
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