Sociology Major Essay – Modernity
“To be modern is to find ourselves in an environment that promises us adventure, power, joy, growth, transformation of ourselves and the world - and, at the same time, that threatens to destroy everything we have, everything we know, everything we are.” – Marshall Berman, All That Is Solid Melts Into Air, (Verso, London, 1988 p.1).
Drawing on a variety of sociologists writings on modernity explain the idea of modernity as both positive and negative.
Modernity is defined in the Collins English Dictionary as the quality or state of being modern. (Hanks 1979) This state of modernity, as described by M. Berman, is one that has positive and negative ...view middle of the document...
Modernity had seen grand economic ‘advantages’ throughout the Industrial Revolution, in both England and the rest of the world as colonialism and exploration catalysed the process of globalisation. However, both the social life and political structures began to change in a ‘disadvantageous’ fashion. The so-called ‘rational’ bureaucratic system that was born from the process of modernity posed a serious threat to the social structure of any nation that had endured the Industrial Revolution. As T. Bilton asserts:
“These systems of rational thought and organisation can be inhuman or dehumanising, and, ironically, in some circumstances they can be irrational and inefficient.” (Bilton 2002)
Thus, it was the process of modernity, especially that of the growth of capitalism, that saw both ‘advantages’ and ‘disadvantages’ in communities worldwide.
The extremities of these economic and social advantages and disadvantages of capitalism can find their sources in the process of modernity itself. This point is illustrated by the Marxist scholar E. M. Wood with her statement:
“In the evolutionary process leading from early forms of exchange to modern industrial capitalism, modernity kicks in when these shackled economic forces, and the economic rationality of the bourgeois, are liberated from traditional constraints.” (Wood 1997)
Hence, modernity had created some fantastic capitalistic opportunities, however, socially and politically the world was not ready for these changes. Even today’s modernised global society, multinationals and other capitalist figure-heads have blindly sought wealth at an ever increasing social cost, not only within the developed OECD countries, but also within (and more recently prominently) in the developing third worlds nations. This process of globalisation has seen the economic stimulation of many corners of the globe, and simultaneously a degradation of social structures within third world countries.
On a political scale, many countries, especially those of the developing world, are not capable of facilitating large economic growth and the housing of huge amounts of foreign direct investment (FDI). Economist Chandan Sengupta illustrates this point by arguing that these social consequences, as a result of the globalisation phenomenon, are because the third world is blindly following in America’s footsteps, in an effort to develop their economy. He emphasises the importance of regulation and government control over how fast an economy is growing, in order to counteract the disadvantageous consequences of the dominance of capitalism in the developing world.
“In the 10 years from 1988 to 1998 almost all governments in the world, regardless of ideology, downsized their activities while private sector expanded theirs thus gradually replacing governments as major economic players on the world scene” (Thompson 1999)
Hence, the slacking of political institutions was (and currently is) the reason behind the social...