293.1 Challenges of global modernity

Thursday, August 2, 2012: 12:30 PM
Faculty of Economics, TBA
Oral Presentation
Volker H. SCHMIDT , Sociology, National University of Singapore, Singapore, Singapore
Volker H Schmidt                                                        National University of Singapore

Challenges of Global Modernity

The aim of this paper is twofold: first, to lay out the contours of a conception of modernity that is both globally applicable and sensitive to local particularities; and second to reflect upon the consequences of the breakthrough of global modernity, which marks the end of western hegemony. Drawing upon a broadly Parsonian-inspired typology, the proposed conception of modernity distinguishes four dimensions of modernization: modernization of social systems, modernization of cultural systems, modernization of personality systems, and modernization of the body. Far-reaching transformations in all four dimensions are discernable on a global scale. The ways in which modern developments manifest themselves can vary though: between world regions, countries, cities, towns, but also within any such entity. The paper suggests to tackle differences expressing themselves in various settings by tailoring research methodologies to the reference problems for which the respective differences matter. As for the end of western hegemony, it means, amongst many other things, the demise of the center-periphery division that characterized the world order before the global breakthrough of modernity.