Universalism, Particularism and Populism

Tuesday, 17 July 2018
Distributed Paper
Fernando CASTAÑEDA SABIDO, Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, Mexico

Universalism, Particularism and Populism.

Classical sociological theory distinguished modern societies by the universality of its institutions.

For the classics modern societies were universal in at least three aspects: by their space / time reach, they tended to convert the world according to their forms; because everything was socially mediated, even the most basic needs of human beings depended on society; because modern social institutions were capable of processing social and human diversity as no later institution.

Unlike the classics, Niklas Luhmann considered that modern systems are universal and inclusive but at the same time are partial and exclusive.

The truth is that in all Western and non-Western societies there is a tension between universalism and particularism that is the product of modernity. This has happened in the past and occurs in the present and one of its consequences is the strengthening of authoritarian, personalized leadership that violates the formal, abstract institutions of modern societies. There are corporate forms of inclusion and religious, ethnic, national references replaces or give new content to the abstract institutions of modernity.

The emergence of nationalism, ethnic and religious strife, are not a simple reproduction of the past is a new expression of this tension between universalism and particularism. The new coordinates of the tension between universality and particularism are: globalization, the formation of a new world public opinion, the failure of the current world economic model to include. Social and cultural diversity grows faster than the possible inclusion of abstract modern institutions. In their place grow patronizing and discretionary forms of power.

Luhmann once wondered whether the latter was the future of modernity. The objective of the paper is to explore this hypothesis.

Fernando Castañeda S.