Modernity Re-Visited: The Role of Technology and Engineering

Wednesday, 13 July 2016: 16:00-17:30
Location: Hörsaal 45 (Main Building)
RC35 Conceptual and Terminological Analysis (host committee)

Language: English

Debates over modernity usually stress social, political and economic structures, institutions or processes and tend to be silent on the impact of technology and engineering in its constitution. This limitation is shared by different perspectives on modernity. 
Authors such as Giddens, who sees fundamental features of modernity across cultural differences, point to the state, capitalism, industrialism as well as to the ability to master nature as constitutive elements, but hardly mention technology. Eisenstadt, with his concept of “multiple modernities”, highlights the role of social movements, political systems and ideology in the production of different forms of modernity. Critics of modernity, like in the globalization debate, or Luhmann’s world society approach stress the social, political and economic interconnectedness of a multipolar world. And even post-colonial perspectives (Bhambra) criticize what they perceive to be Eurocentric in sociology as documented in its inability to acknowledge the importance of colonialism in the constitution of modernity and lay emphasis on shared histories and entangled modernities (Randeria).
The relative neglect of technology in these debates is all the more astonishing since societal processes everywhere have increasingly come under its influence, including in such settings as those where religion plays a key role in the design of statehood or among groups acting on the belief that they are resisting the West while relying on modern technology for their military activities.
The session invites theoretical and conceptual papers that take up these issues and address the relevance of technology and engineering for a deeper understanding of modernity.
Session Organizers:
Dieter NEUBERT, University of Bayreuth, Germany and Elisio MACAMO, University of Basel, Switzerland
Alexandra HOFMÄNNER, University of Basel, Switzerland