Late-Alain Touraine's Theory of Modernity, New Subjects and Cultural Movements: Toward Theorizing Social Transformations in Contemporary Asia

Friday, July 18, 2014: 8:45 AM
Room: 411
Oral Presentation
Eiji HAMANISHI , Department of Contemporary Sociological Studies, Notre-Dame Seishin Univertisy, Okayama, Japan
The purpose of this presentation is to theorize social transformations in contemporary Asia from the perspective of late-Touraine's theory. The “compressed modernity” theory (Chang) is often used, which is based on the theory of “radicalization of modernity” (Giddens, Beck) that focuses on the institutional level of modernity. However, the latter is partly criticized by the theories of “multiple modernities” (Arnason) and Touraine, because the cultural orientations characteristic of modernity are embodied in institutions, but not reducible to them. Its founding gesture is a break with the widespread assumptions that there is one main pattern of modernization and modernity.

This presentation explores the insights that emerge from the exploration of Touraine’s major works after 1990s that are highly appreciated by the theorists of multiple modernities. Touraine does not justify modernity institutionally and does not anchor it in the market economy, the government administration, or democratic organs. Instead it brings other regions of the world into the debate over modernity.

Touraine maintains that modernity was characterized from the beginning by the two poles of reason and the resisting subject. In a world best defined by multiple process of change, there exist no other means of combining economic strategies and cultural identities than through the individual. It is not the individual as consumer or member of various organizations, and even less as citizen, but the individual as subject, in the desire for individuation, which constitutes the only principle able to mediate between the instrumental world and the world of identity: the collective situations that protect the uniqueness and individuality of individuals called cultural movements.

These conceptualizations can be applied to Asian societies, however to that end it should be developed into institutional analysis based on a new theoretical model from the theories of welfare regime, new social risks, social/cultural movements, and social governance.