From Convergence and Stability to Plurality and Transformation

Authored by: Peter Wagner

Routledge International Handbook of Contemporary Social and Political Theory

Print publication date:  March  2011
Online publication date:  March  2011

Print ISBN: 9780415548250
eBook ISBN: 9780203875575
Adobe ISBN: 9781135997946


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Has modernity always been or has it recently become a key concern in social and political theory? In the former view, social and political theory emerged in Europe in the aftermath of the great transformations at the end of the eighteenth and the beginning of the nineteenth century. The novel social configuration that was forming as the combined effect of the Industrial Revolution and the French Revolution demanded novel means of analysis and interpretation; and social theory, in particular (without that term yet being coined), was the new intellectual tool to grasp its own present time, that is, its modernity. Proponents of the latter view, in turn, point to the fact that the noun ‘modernity’ has come into widespread use in social and political theory only since about 1980. A look at this recent development provides us with an angle from which to grasp the longer history and the transformations of the concern with modernity in social and political theory.

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