In its first part the article examines visions of the family during 1968 and the succeeding years. It concentrates in particular on alternative visions of the family, both at a theoretical level (as with David Cooper's Death of the Family), and at the level of social history, with the rise and fall of the commune movement. It does so with reference to a methodology which concentrates on relationships, principally those between the individual and the family, between family and between the (...) family and the state. In the second part it surveys the widespread changes that have beset family relations and family life in the advanced capitalist societies since 1968: the lowering of fertility rates, the gradual decline of marriage, the significant changes in the position of women in the family, the increase in individualisation, as manifested in the growth of single-member households. The article then seeks to explore the relationship, if any, between the movement of 1968 and these transformations in the family. It examines both conservative and progressive interpretations, and suggests that paradoxically the movement left few sediments in the relationship between family and civil society but rather more in that between the state and the family. (shrink)
Sociologists have increasingly adopted the insight that ‘modern societies’ undergo major historical transformations; they are not stable or undergoingonly smooth social change once their basic institutional structure has been established. There is even some broad agreement that the late twentieth century witnessed the most recent one of those major transformations leading into the present time – variously characterized by adding adjectives such as ‘reflexive’, ‘global’ or simply ‘new’ to modernity. However, neither the dynamics of the recent social transformation nor the (...) characteristic features of the present social constellation have been adequately grasped yet.Rather than assuming a socio-structural or politico-institutional perspective, as they dominate in sociology and political science respectively, this articleconcentrates on the way in which current social practices are experienced and interpreted by the human beings who enact them as parts of a common worldthat they inhabit together. It will be suggested that current interpretations are shaped by the experience of the dismantling of ‘organized modernity’ from the 1970s onwards and of the subsequent rise of a view of the world as shaped by parallel processes of ‘globalization’ and ‘individualization’, signalling the erasure of historical time and lived space, during the 1990s and early 2000s. In response to these experiences, we witness today a variety of interconnected attempts at re-interpretation of modernity, aiming at re-constituting spatiality and temporality. The re-constitution of meaningful time concerns most strongly questions of historical injustice, in terms of the present significance of past oppression and exclusion and in terms of the unequal effects of the instrumental transformation of the earth in the techno-industrial trajectory of modernity. The re-constitution of meaningful space focuses on the relation between the political form of a spatially circumscribed democracy and the economic practices of expansionist capitalism as well as on the spatial co-existence of a plurality of ways of world-interpretation. (shrink)
Divided into two parts this book examines the train of social theory from the 19th century, through to the `organization of modernity', in relation to ideas of social planning, and as contributors to the `rationalistic revolution' of the `golden age' of capitalism in the 1950s and 60s. Part two examines key concepts in the social sciences. It begins with some of the broadest concepts used by social scientists: choice, decision, action and institution and moves on to examine the `collectivist alternative': (...) the concepts of society, culture and polity, which are often dismissed as untenable by postmodernists today. This is a major contribution to contemporary social theory and provides a host of essential insights into the task of social science today. (shrink)
The twin theories of late 20th-century societal constellations, functionalist modernization theory and neo-Marxist theories of late capitalism, fell into crisis and disrepute during the 1970s and 1980s. Social theory responded to such double crisis of the theorizing of `capitalism' and of `modernization' by embracing the term `modernity', a term that, almost unknown in social thought before the end of the 1970s, appeared to provide a new common ground in terms of representing the present societal constellation. At the same time, however, (...) the move towards such a common reference term appeared to entail the loss of all possibility of critique. Traditionally, critique used to embrace modernity (even without using the term) and to denounce capitalism because of its inability to complete the project of modernity - or rather: because of the obstacles it posed to such completion. To use the term `modernity' for a contemporary reality that was without doubt capitalist as well, made such a conceptual strategy impossible. Instead of returning to standard theories of capitalism, however, it is argued here that both capitalism and critique need to be reconceptualized in the light of their relation to modernity if the both intellectual and sociopolitical transformations since the 1970s are to be taken seriously. (shrink)
This book argues that sociology has lost its ability to provide critical diagnoses of the present human condition because sociology has stopped considering the philosophical requirements of social enquiry. The book attempts to restore that ability by retrieving some of the key questions that sociologists tend to gloss over, inescapability and attainability. The book identifies five key questions in which issues of inescapability and attainability emerge. These are the questions of the certainty of our knowledge, the viability of our politics, (...) the continuity of our selves, the accessibility of the past, and the transparency of the future. The book demonstrates how these questions are addressed in different forms and by different intellectual means during the past 200 years and shows how they persist today. (shrink)
During the past two centuries, and in particular during the inter-war period, American ways of living and of thinking have become one principal object of European reflections on modernity. This essay explores some of the ways in which the rejection or affirmation of modernity in Europe has been channelled through observations on America. It is argued that the variety of European ways of looking at America also demonstrates the range of forms available to social theory for thinking the social world (...) under conditions of modernity and that this European debate provided some seeds for the current discussion about `multiple modernities'. (shrink)
Cornelius Castoriadis is one of the very few social and political philosophers – modern and ancient – for whom a concept of imagination is truly central. In his work, however, the role of imagination is so overarching that it becomes difficult to grasp its workings and consequences in detail, in particular in its relation to democracy as the political form in which autonomy is the core imaginary signification. This article will proceed by first suggesting some clarifications about Castoriadis’s employment of (...) the concept. This preparatory exploration will allow us in a second step to discuss why the idea of democracy is closely linked to tragedy, and why this linkage in turn is dependent on the centrality of imagination for human action. In a third conceptual step, finally, we suggest that any concept of imagination will need to take into account the plurality and diversity of the outcomes of the power of imagination. Thus, the question of the nature of the novelty that imagination creates needs to be addressed as well as the one of the agon in the face of different imagined innovations in a given democratic political setting. As a consequence of this shift in emphasis, to be elaborated further, one will be able to say more about one question of which Castoriadis was well aware, which he never addressed himself in detail, though: the decline and end of polities and political forms, the question of political mortality. (shrink)
The thesis that `1968' resulted in the rise of the individual, on the one hand, and the end of politics, on the other, is critically discussed by interpreting the events of 1968 as a project of emancipation and by distinguishing between the individual and the collective aspects of emancipation.
Comparative analysis of civilizations has recently revived and has led into a debate about varieties of modernity. This connection between an empirically defined area of study, `civilizations', and a theme that is predominantly seen as conceptual, `modernity', is a peculiar one and raises crucial questions for any social theory. Can `modernity' be located spatio-temporally among the civilizations? Is it itself a civilization (or the successor to all civilizations), or does it not rather refer to a human condition? This article takes (...) its starting point from the observation that civilizational comparison is always some form of cultural analysis and asks if and how a cultural theory of modernity is possible and fruitful under current theoretical and historical conditions. (shrink)
In reply to the contributions to Social Imaginaries vol. 4, no. 1, this article reviews the development of the research programme that the author has been pursuing over more than three decades. It places the emphasis on the conceptual and methodological requirements for a historical sociology of social change. It insists, on the one hand, on the need to avoid overly strong conceptual presuppositions to analyze social phenomena of large scale and long duration, while, on the other hand, sustaining the (...) notion that a minimum of social and political philosophy as well as philosophy of history is necessary to comprehend the ways in which history is directed. Further emphasis is given to the difficulties that arise when studying social phenomena before 1800 and outside Europe, due to the strong epistemic impact European global domination has had since the “great divergence” at around 1800. The article concludes with reflections on the adequate kind of conceptual distinctions that are needed when analyzing large-scale phenomena such as “societies” as well as on the link between scholarly work and a critical, action-oriented diagnosis of the present time. (shrink)
European integration needs to be analyzed in terms that address the normative self-understanding of the emerging polity or, in other words, the self-understanding of European modernity. While it is often argued that such European self-understanding is either entirely indistinct from the general self-understanding of the West, i.e. a commitment to human rights and liberal democracy, or highly problematic, because it makes overly ‘thick’ presuppositions, which are untenable against the background of European cultural diversity and risk to revive non-liberal European political (...) traditions, the attempt here to reconstruct European political modernity suggests that the general, universalist commitment to liberal democracy is insufficient to understand Western polities, and it aims to propose this argument by elaborating a more complex concept of political modernity than can usually be found in political theory. The struggles about European political modernity across history are interpreted with a view to understanding how the self-understanding of a modern polity evolved and changed. (shrink)
Europe as a political entity is born with the general public disagreement against the Iraqi war, while governments were divided on that point. Those linked with European opinion are going to build politics together while the others will remain in a corm on market. This new political stage is supported by the global movement.