Dimensions of Modernity

Giddens begins this section introducing the institutional dimension of modernity. These four interconnected institutions would be Surveillance, Capitalism, Military Power, and Industrialism. Capitalism is defined to depend “upon production for competitive markets, prices being signals for investors, producers, and consumers alike” (Giddens 55). To be able to acquire the producers and consumers mentioned, Industrialism is necessary as it becomes “sources of material power in the production of goods, coupled to the central role of machinery in the production process” (Giddens 56). Not only does this process support Capitalism but the production of materials benefits the other institutions of Surveillance and Military Power by supplying resources. Capitalism also in turn connects back to Surveillance and Military power as in capitalist societies leave the economy “fairly distinct, or ‘insulated’ from other social arenas, particularly political institutions” (Giddens 56). Each dimension becomes stifled without being supported by the other dimensions as each rely heavily on the jobs and defined duties of the other.

The next topic brought in by Giddens is the globalism of modernity. Giddens defines globalism as “that stretching process, in so far the modes of connection between different and social contexts or regions become networked across the earth’s surface as a whole” (Giddens 64). As so it seems in this section, Globalism and Modernity collide when advances are made that shorten the time space gap throughout the world. This is shown as “in the modern era, the level of time-space distanciation is much higher than in any previous period” (Giddens 64). In our current age, the technological advancements continually improve and allow a closing of the gap. Online networking and social media allow for a smaller time-space gap in that everything like news and current events can easily be shared globally as compared to way back to when mail was only hand delivered and people had to wait days for current information.

Giddens explains how there are two theoretical perspectives that appear in bodies of literature. One of these two is the literature of international relations, the other being that of world-system theory. Theorists of the one concerning itself in international relations “characteristically focus upon the development of the nation-state system, analyzing its origins in Europe and its subsequent worldwide spread” (Giddens 65). As the European state system continues to develop into a nation-state system, “patterns of interdependence become increasingly developed” (Giddens 66). This growth in interdependence will to a greater, stronger unification, and this worldwide spread, as mentioned before, will lead us closer to being one-world.

Giddens broadens the previously mentioned dimensions of modernity by expanding it into dimensions of globalization. The new connections made are between a nation-state system, world military order, international division of labour, and a capitalist economy. If taking his original idea of the dimensions of modernity and combining it the previously mentioned developed interdependent world, we get an extension into a global scale movement of modernity where the whole world works the same system and combines duties. This would be like how there are imported goods, treaties between nations, and other worldwide agreements and contracts.

2 thoughts on “Dimensions of Modernity

  1. Jordan,

    You raise a helpful historical distinction: “Online networking and social media allow for a smaller time-space gap in that everything like news and current events can easily be shared globally as compared to way back to when mail was only hand delivered and people had to wait days for current information.” I wonder, though, if we can also think of online networking and social media as having unintended consequences. How do they participate in or contribute to the dialectic of modernity?

    ~DM

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  2. Jordan,
    One particular part of your blog stood out to me. When you were talking about Giddens’ views on the globalism of modernity in the second paragraph you said “In our current age, the technological advancements continually improve and allow a closing of the gap. Online networking and social media allow for a smaller time-space gap in that everything like news and current events can easily be shared globally as compared to way back to when mail was only hand delivered and people had to wait days for current information.” This of course is a counter to Giddens saying that in the post-modern era Globalism will be shared on a much faster level than ever before. You bring up an awesome point that because of technological advances and things like social media, something can be spread nearly all over the globe in minutes, this is hundreds of times faster than any era before us. I then started to think though about third world countries which don’t have any access to technology that allows them to connect to the rest of the world. This brings up a very interesting question to me, are certain parts of the world already in “post-modernity” while other parts of the world still stuck in modernity?

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