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Exploring Individual Modernity by Alex…

Exploring Individual Modernity

by Alex Inkeles

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One can get rather good agreement as to what should be noted on a simple checklist of the important changes in human existence over the last several hundred years: Most everyone's list would include the emergence and florescence of the nation-state; the vast expansion of industry; the mechanization of agriculture; the prominence of science; the spread of bureaucracy; the diffusion of education; the growth of cities; and so on. Although we can get agreement as to the discrete items on the list, every attempt to offer a general characterization of all these changes is greeted by a barrage of challenges. Even more dissension is generated by every proposed explanation of these phenomena. Marx was surely telling us something terribly important when he urged us to concentrate on the mode of production and the resultant class relations. Nevertheless, Weber has convinced many that the ethic of social action embedded in religious and other transcendent world views impinges significantly on economic behavior. And Sorokin is not readily faulted in his assertion that we have witnessed the displacement of an ideational supercultural system by one of the sensate type. While the debate over these conceptions continued, the phenomena these grand theories confronted have persisted, and many of the trends they identified have deepened and accelerated.… (more)

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