Beyond Modernity

PDF of slides Slide show of slides Slides


  • Itself defined by "post-ness" : tradition, medieval, feudal.
  • Industrialization, rationalization, secularization, nation-state
  • Had (has) character of culmination and finality, but…

Giddens' description:

…a shorthand term for modern society, or industrial civilization. Portrayed in more detail, it is associated with

(1) a certain set of attitudes towards the world, the idea of the world as open to transformation, by human intervention;
(2) a complex of economic institutions, especially industrial production and a market economy;
(3) a certain range of political institutions, including the nation-state and mass democracy.

Largely as a result of these characteristics, modernity is vastly more dynamic than any previous type of social order. It is a society—more technically, a complex of institutions—which, unlike any preceding culture, lives in the future, rather than the past (Giddens 1998, 94 as cited in Modernity).

One take on all this is that it represents the ultimate fulfillment of enlightenment ideals — progress, problem solving, plenty, eradication of disease and poverty, overcoming prejudices, banishing irrationalities.

Building systems that solved the human problem. Democracy made people equal and free. Capitalism freed up our creative spirit and facilitated achievements never before imagined.

In the social sciences and the humanities

See also



  1. Giddens/Turner: Structuralism, Post-Structuralism, and Production of Culture (Notes)
  2. "Postmodernism" in Encyclopedia of Social Theory (Notes)
  3. Read lightly Wikipedia on Postmodernism


  1. Saussure, Ferdinand de. 1906-11. "Arbitrary Social Values and the Linguistic Sign" (152-160)
  2. Lévi-Strauss, Claude. 1958. "The Structural Study of Myth" ((313-317)

Saussure introduces the sign as unity of signifier and signified and the location of meaning in the interplay among signs in a system.

Lévi-Strauss pushes the idea further — culture is like language, with an underlying, discoverable structure.

  1. Barthes,Roland. 1964. "Semiological Prospects" (318-320)
  1. Horkheimer, Max and Theodor Adorno. 1944. "The Culture Industry as Deception" (325-329)
  2. Foucault, Michel. 1976. "Power as Knowledge" (473-479)
  3. Giddens, Anthony. 1990. "Post-Modernity or Radicalized Modernity?" (485-491)


  1. Benjamin, Walter. 1936. "Art, War, and Fascism" (259-261)
  2. Horkheimer, Max and Theodor Adorno. 1944. "The Culture Industry as Deception" (325-329)
  3. Barthes,Roland. 1964. "Semiological Prospects" (318-320)
  4. Derrida, Jacques. 1966. "The Decentering Event in Social Thought" (413-417)
  5. Foucault, Michel. 1975. "Biopolitics and the Carceral Society" (417-421)
  6. Lyotard, Jean-François. 1979. "The Postmodern Condition" (465-468)

Extra material

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License