This of you begin to talk of other things makes one forget that this was initially a blog about sociology, and that there are issues half-written. As the diptych on modernity. In the first part, criticizing the idea that we had about what was the modern project. And had been announced -for shame total – a second part dedicated to criticizing the idea that modernity was a project. Now, having announced that second part in June of 2009, I think that we are somewhat overdue. So, finally, the second part.
The idea that modernity is a project I think has had its best defense in recent years, in the already classic book of Wagner’s Sociology of Modernity. And the argument is, as the whole argument is powerful, fairly simple: If modernity is a change in the structures, then it was very slow change. And ergo, does not serve to show a disruption deep in the social life. In addition, only affected very small groups until very recently, and therefore, the NINETEENTH century would not be modern in that sense, since people would not have been affected by her at that time: modernity, would not have affected the daily life of large masses of the population (i.and they were peasants and not workers, were illiterate so that the expansion of the press is not affected, and so on). And any definition of modernity that would throw to the NINETEENTH century is not very appropriate.
Despite its power it is an argument wrong. Change rapid and disruptive depends on the approach. A change of a couple of centuries, looked at closely it can be slow, but looked at from the several millennia of human history remains a rapid change. The topic of how many people were affected is the product of a mistake: A substantial change in the social structure is defined not by the amount of people experiencing it, but by how it affects the way in which that society reproduces itself: Perhaps there were few workers, but the production of the factories affected many people (such as consumers who purchased goods, as producers who were feeling the competition of those factories), and by the way affected the power structures of these societies (with the loss of importance of the ownership of the land). Perhaps not everybody could read the newspapers, but the ways in which operates a government with or without the newspapers are different. In the last instance, have societies in which the State is dedicated to the primary education is a relevant topic and with profound consequences, even when that effort is just beginning, and it still does not affect the entire population.
All of this even leaves out the main problem of defining modernity as a project. If it is defined as project (and as an expression of certain values), then modernity is something that is characteristic of some societies in particular-that in fact Wagner says explicitly: my analysis serves to, let’s say, Europe, and North America. Now, to define specific analysis for certain companies is more than reasonable. But, then we need another concept to refer to the fact that virtually all societies have experienced (and been part of) a structural process common in the past 200 years: the growth of urbanization, industrialization (and if your country is not industrialized, however, experienced the effects), expansion of the public sphere, and mass media, rise of bureaucracies and of the technical staff, increasing the levels of energy use etc, etc
This is a fundamental change, to which originally had the word modernity. Decrease its extension to refer to things that serve only to societies that are heirs direct of the Enlightenment leaves us with no concept to refer to the central exchange of the last few centuries. To say any thing, Iran may be far away from the modern project, but its institutions work with memoranda, and the paid work is relevant in it, and a higher percentage of relevant population no longer work in the earth.