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Modernity (Essay Sample)


Task: What is “modernity” and why have sociologists been so interested in it? The sample contains the definition of 'modernity' and why the sociologists are interested in studying it. The task reference below was compulsory in the essay: Lefebvre, Henri. 1995. Introduction to modernity: twelve preludes, September 1959-May 1961. London: Verso.pp.53

What is "modernity" and why have sociologists been so
Interested in it?
Author’s Name
Instructor’s Name
What is "modernity" and why have sociologists been so
Interested in it?
For many generations, modernity has been the question of concern among the socialists. The history of modernity can be traced back to the 17th century and the beginning of a revolutionary era of Enlightenment. In order to illuminate the importance for a comprehensive study of the social part of life by socialist, this study will identify and explore the essential characteristics of modernity. The period of Enlightenment or rather the shift to "modernity" was a landmark age which led to historical changes such as the transformation of primary and secondary social institutions in Europe. This paper will also give the definitions of modernity from sociological perspectives of the pioneers of sociology, Durkheim and Marx, in order to demonstrate why modernity compelled and continues to compel, sociological investigations.
There have been several attempts, specifically in the area of sociology, to comprehend the meaning of modernity and its characteristics. A wide array of terms are used to give a vivid description of the society, driving force, social life, symptomatic mentality as well as other aspects that define modernity. Some common elements that define modernity include:
"The existence impersonal bureaucracies such as social hierarchies are marked by distinct practices such as division of labour and other practices that follow regular procedures." Modernity is reflected by rationalization whereby people can understand and manage the world through reasonable systems of theories and data. The alienation process is a common feature as well. Individuals are isolated from the systems of meaning like religion, families and meaningful work. "Moreover, modernity results into commoditization, a process where almost all aspects of everyday life are converted to objects with monetary value for exchange as well as consumption purposes." There is also a massive growth of societies with a common uniting factor, the mass media. Under such societies, there is a high rate of dissemination of cultural and social practices, unlike regional and local culture particulars. Lastly, there is the prevalence of therapeutic motivations. This is a state where human self is understood as a product of the desires of evolution, and that the human self should be helped in attaining those desires, as opposed to pursuit of public importance or ethical improvement projects.[Ferguson, Harvie. 2000. Modernity and subjectivity: body, soul, spirit. Charlottesville: Univ. Press of Virginia. Pp.18.] [Morley, Neville. 2009. Antiquity and modernity. Chichester, U.K.: Wiley-Blackwell. pp.34]
In simple terms, modernity refers to a process in which the society progresses from primitive civilizations, characterised by steady evolution through distinct steps, and eventual arrival at modern state which is characterized by capitalism and globalization, ending in the present, post-modern condition of globalization which moulds the contemporary society with increasing momentum. It means struggling against determinism instead of revelling in it as part of preordained plan. "Due to romanticism and industrialization that emerged in reaction, the general human quality was no longer the point of interest among individual. Rather, the irreplaceability and qualitative uniqueness became the norm." "Modernity is characterized by a realization of democracy which is demanded by free-thinking citizens. The period of Enlightenment which was experienced in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries led to exceptional changes in the way people perceived or thought about the universe, hence the emergence of extensive civil unrest." That was an historical period for the European intellectual history since the great philosophers like Isaac Newton and Immanuel Kant were to encourage the population to embrace ideas that would lead to profound consequences for civilization.[Simmer, G, Anthony J., Blasi, Anton K., Jacobs, & Mathew J., 2009. Sociology: inquiries into the construction of social forms. Leiden: Brill. Pp.27] [Lefebvre, Henri. 1995. Introduction to modernity: twelve preludes, September 1959-May 1961. London: Verso.pp.53]
Certainly, much the impact of the innovative ideas, scientific as well as the technological progress can be attributed to the contemporary society. The foundations of such progress were established during the period of Enlightenment. However, the period was accompanied by unparalleled riots and brutal revolutions that led to a lot of suffering and deaths amongst the population that would eventually secure the hostile transition from tradition society to modern society. It would be worthy to explore how societies progressed continuously to the modern society. Many changes have taken place in the lives of people in modern society, more so those living in towns and cities. In his book The Metropolis and Mental Life, Georg Simmer gives a comprehensive overview of the things that happen to people living in cities. He also explains how such happenings relate to individual resistance to being levelled and eventually swallowed up in the mechanism of social-technology. He termed this form of ontological insecurity as a form of modern struggle which is the most difficult of all struggles of modern life.
The metropolitan reacts to modernity and its challenges in a rational way rather than emotional way. "This creates a mental predominance as a result of the intensification of consciousness. In other words, the city people react to the challenges of modernity with their heads rather than their hearts, implying they do not involve the depths of their personalities." Basically, this means that the conditions of life in the city after the modernity hinder the development of simple (customary) ways of living.[Dennis, Richard. 2008. Cities in modernity: representations and productions of metropolitan space, 1840-1930. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Pp.45]
"Throughout history, five types of societies existed. Until about 12000 years ago, human beings lived in societies which hunted and gathered for survival." The type of technology used to hunt was very simple or rather basic. In other words, this kind of life was basically a subsistence living. The societies were based on kinship system of leadership and the family was tasked with gathering and...
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