Stuck in Modernity

Anthony Giddens wrote this piece to offer his take on modernity and what influenced it to make our society what it is today. He says that modernity is the post medieval era and it started with industrialization. Giddens argues that we are not in a “post-modern” age yet like many other authors believe. He tries explaining that social changes need to take place to get us into this next era. Giddens goes on to explain discontinuity transitions, like Marxism. Karl Marx is another author who believes that we are still in the modern era. He says that history has a general direction, and is governed by general principles. He goes on to explain how all of history started with small isolated cultures that grew and adopted the best qualities of these other societies and tried to improve on them. This led to industrialism, which in turn led to the modern era.

            Our society has evolved and we now have inventions that have become a part of everyday life such as calendars and clocks. Giddens explains how we have now started to separate time and space. This leads to disembedding, which he explains how there are two separate types of disembedding. The first is “symbolic”, which is politics and money, which can change at any time. The other type is the creation of expert systems. These experts are professionals who provide guarantees. These will cause a “stretch” of the social system.

            In this piece Giddens is giving his thoughts on where we are as a society, he believes we are still in the modern era and aren’t ready to move into the “post-modern” world. I think his target audience for this book is historians, he wants to prove we aren’t ready to move into a new era. He is hoping to get the readers thinking about what is wrong with society and what needs to be changed before we can move forward.

            In this chapter Giddens puts an emphasis on a few terms. He referred to evolution in this chapter a lot, and states that the human race is not fully evolved yet. Some other key terms were space and time. He really emphasized that these terms need to be referred to separately so that our entire society was able to adopt the same calendar and able to tell time.

            Giddens stated his argument on the first page and gave plenty of reasons to back his ideas up. I agree with his idea that we are still in the modern era and not ready to move on to a new one yet because people still have a lot of changing to do and society as a whole needs to continue to change.

3 thoughts on “Stuck in Modernity

  1. Hi Sean:
    You’re right to point out that Giddens does not think that we’re in a postmodern age. But I wonder if he thinks we can ever perfect ourselves in the way you suggest here? What passages support your point?



  2. The author in this post says that Giddens thinks we are still in the modern era and that as a society we are not yet ready to move on to a new one. But if we are not ready to move on to a new era then when will we be? Who decides when it is time to start a new era? A new era just happens with the help of an event, a discovery, or a group of people. Nobody plans on a new era forming. Giddens just believes that we are not in a new era, and that the costs of this current era are now becoming apparent. Giddens writes, “Max Weber was the most pessimistic among the three founding fathers…yet even he did not fully anticipate how extensive the darker side of modernity would turn out to be” (7). The consequences of modernity are just now visible in the modern time and not the post-modern time. The consequences such as war, guns, environmental problems, and the possible end of humanity from nuclear devastation are all costs of the modern era, but not a gateway into post-modernity.


  3. I’m not sure if I can agree with you that historians are his target audience. I got the impression that this book was aimed directly at sociologists. It seemed to me that Giddens is attempting to re-architect key aspects of the classical theories of sociology in order to enable a much higher quality analysis of modernity. As Giddens says on page 10 there are three widely held concepts in the classical theory’s of sociology that inhibit the satisfactory analysis of modernity. He then goes on to discuss how all three concepts need to be altered or changed.


Comments are closed.