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Palgrave Macmillan

Global Modernity

A Conceptual Sketch

ISBN 9781137435804
Publication Date May 2014
Formats Hardcover Ebook (EPUB) Ebook (PDF) 
Publisher Palgrave Pivot

This study introduces and systematizes the concept of global modernity as a paradigm for the analysis of the contemporary era. Building on Parson's distinction between social, cultural, personal and organismic systems, it presents a four-dimensional scheme that aims to identify modernity's key structural components. Each dimension is explored in turn, highlighting different aspects of the modern condition. While focusing on universal features, the scheme leaves ample room for capturing cross-regional diversity. The book's key argument is that we have entered a new phase of global, polycentric modernity which brings to a close several centuries of Western world domination and gives rise to a new world order.

Volker H. Schmidt is Associate Professor of Sociology at the National University of Singapore. He was formerly a Kennedy Memorial Fellow at Harvard University, USA, and he has held several fellowships at the University of Münster, Germany. Most recently, he was a Fellow at the Centre for Interdisciplinary Research, University of Bielefeld, Germany.

1. Introduction

2. Phases of Modernity

3. Epistemological and Methodological Challenges

4. A Four-dimensional Scheme of Modernization

5. Global Modernization in Context

6. Two Aspects of Polycentric Modernity

7. Conclusion


"To say this book is impressive would be an understatement. It gets at the heart of a matter that is central to the social sciences and that has been discussed for a long time. Highly thoughtful and extremely well written, the book combines a wealth of insights from a multitude of sources and disciplines. It thereby makes a major, fascinating contribution to our understanding of the contemporary world. A must read for anyone interested in social theory today." - Zaheer Baber, Professor of Sociology, University of Toronto, Canada
"One of the most rewarding books I've read in years, Global Modernity. A Conceptual Sketch offers a tour de force that can stand as a benchmark for future discussions of the subject. Its ideas are original and authoritative, well-formulated, and wondrously usable. The author treats major contributors to the debate on modernity deftly, respectfully, and creatively – thereby manifesting a kind of civilized inquiry that is regrettably rare in academic discourse. Overall, I find Volker Schmidt's book to be one of the very few statements in general sociological theory today worthy engaging with seriously." - Donald N. Levine, Peter B. Ritzma Professor Emeritus of Sociology, University of Chicago, USA
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