The Breakdown of Modernity

            Giddens’ argument that we are not yet in a post-modern world is an outcry to all those who study the development of history.  He is articulating that although we have come a long way since seventeenth century England, we have not yet left the modern world.  People that study how technology shapes what’s around us are also targeted in this theoretical statement, inventions that may have seemed to propel us into post-modernity could just be advances in our modern world.  His introduction to this essay states that to move into a different era, our whole social system must change, we need to change the way we think and the way we do things.  Giddens wants the reader to challenge what they think they know.  He wants his readers to look at the world from a different perspective even if they don’t agree with that way of thinking.

            In the author’s introduction, it soon becomes clear that he wants to evaluate society’s thinking as a whole.  He equates modernity to “modes of social life or organization which emerged from Europe from about the seventeenth century onwards” (Giddens, 1).  Anthony Giddens wants to show that his arguments will be based off of the world’s accomplishments and how they have affected our interactions throughout history.  He also wants to compare our current society’s traditions to those in the seventeenth century, where the era of modernity supposedly began.  Society obviously plays a big part in any change in history and Giddens is narrowing down just what part of society has kept us in this era.

            Giddens’ most compelling argument came from his discussion about the calendar, and how it transformed our world from pre-modern to modern.  Before there was a way to keep time, “’when’ was almost universally either connected with ‘where’ or identified by regular natural occurrences” (Giddens 17).  The invention of the calendar and eventually the mechanical clock surged us into a modern world where we could have decisive times and places without mixing when and where up.  The advancement in time and space was what made the world turn modern, and what Giddens implies is that post-modernity won’t be reached until we have another advancement of that magnitude.

            In his introduction to describing modernity, Giddens is able to dissect pieces of the world that I have never thought could be dissected.  What’s more, he’s able to do it in a manner that allows most people to understand, not just scholars looking to further their intellect on world culture.  Although his writing is simple enough to comprehend, it is sophisticated enough to show that the person writing this argument was meticulous in his research in order to give the best argument of the consequences of modernity possible.

2 thoughts on “The Breakdown of Modernity

  1. In the post, the author explains Giddens belief in that the calendar and later the clock were two major advancements that brought us into the modern era. The author also states that a new invention like the clock has to be made in order to gain access to the post-modern era. I agree that major advancements such as the clock propelled the world into the modern era, but saying that another technological breakthrough is needed to get to post-modernity is not what I believe Giddens is trying to say. I think Giddens believes that we are still in the modern times due to the fact that we still have hope in the future for life to get better somehow. He says that we do not know everything so how can we be in a post-modern era. Giddens argues Lyotard’s views by saying, “Many of us have of being caught up in the universe of events we do not fully understand, and which seems in large part outside of our control” (2). I believe that we not knowing everything came about through modernity causing the modern era to still be going on at this time.


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