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Rescuing/ abandoning the convergence claim : modernization processes and criticism

Rettung oder Ablehnung des Konvergenz-Anspruchs: Modernisierungsprozesse und Kritik
[conference paper]

Langenohl, Andreas

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Corporate Editor Deutsche Gesellschaft für Soziologie (DGS)
Abstract "The editor argues that the convergence claim characterising classic modernization theory is not tenable anymore unless it is lifted onto a discursive level. It can be rescued for contemporary modernization theory only if it is linked to the development of practices of critical examination of the modernization project itself. Rather than the emergence of certain structural patterns or interpretive templates and attitudes, modernization theory can take as its point of departure the general tendency toward the development of immanent criticism of society that characterises modernising and modernised societies. Recent theoretical work highlights the inescapability of conflicts in modern societies. Thereby it is not so much the differences between different types of societal modernization patterns that cause conflicts in the contemporary world, but instead the different claims and attitudes within modernised and modernising societies that are increasingly confronting each other. What therefore generates conflicts is not so much the factual (non-)convergence of societal processes but rather a 'sense of involvement in the project of universalism' (J. Alexander) the consequences of which are open to dispute. The emergence of a critical potential within society that turns the various modernization projects into reflexivity and confronts them with their own aims and means is therefore common to all processes of societal modernization. The commonality of 'different' modernities is the acceleration of fundamental politicisation that brings about immanent criticism of the modernization project itself. This approach contests the following shortcomings of modernization theory so far: its latent Eurocentric bias due to which some societies are 'more modern' than others; the 'container metaphor' which tends to treat societies as self-sufficient systems; the teleological and/ or evolutionary tendency that explicitly or implicitly characterises most approaches toward societal modernization: at the moment that the 'critical stage' is achieved evolutionary constructions of social change become themselves a field of political contestation." (author's abstract)
Keywords modernity; society; convergence; modernization theory; conflict; social change; development; criticism
Classification General Sociology, Basic Research, General Concepts and History of Sociology, Sociological Theories
Method descriptive study
Collection Title Soziale Ungleichheit, kulturelle Unterschiede: Verhandlungen des 32. Kongresses der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Soziologie in München. Teilbd. 1 und 2
Editor Rehberg, Karl-Siegbert
Conference 32. Kongress der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Soziologie "Soziale Ungleichheit - kulturelle Unterschiede". München, 2004
Document language English
Publication Year 2006
Publisher Campus Verl.
City Frankfurt am Main
Page/Pages p. 2895-2904
ISBN 3-593-37887-6
Status Published Version; reviewed
Licence Deposit Licence - No Redistribution, No Modifications