Social change and modernity (2023)

Favorite Quote: Haferkamp, ​​​​​​Hans and Neil J. Smelser, editorsSocial change and modernity.Berkeley: University of California Press, c1992 1991.

Social change and modernity (1)

Social change and modernity

Edited by
Hans Haferkamp e Neil J. Smelser

Berkeley Los Angeles Oxford
© 1992 The Regents of the University of California

Favorite Quote: Haferkamp, ​​​​​​Hans and Neil J. Smelser, editorsSocial change and modernity.Berkeley: University of California Press, c1992 1991.

Hans Haferkamp e Neil J. Smelser

Haferkamp thanks Angelika Schade for her helpful comments and invaluable help in editing this volume and Geoff Hunter for translating the first German version of parts of the introduction; Smelser benefited from Joppke's scientific support and critical analysis.

1. Social change and modernity

The organizers of the conference on which this volume is based, including the editors, decided to use the terms "social change" and "modernity" as organizational concepts for this project. As these terms are pervasive, general and inclusive in contemporary sociology, they seem preferable to more specific terms like 'evolution', 'progress', 'differentiation' or even 'development', many of which evoke mechanisms, processes and processes. .more specific. change direction. Likewise, we have excluded historically specific terms such as "late capitalism" and "industrial society", although these terms play a prominent role in many contributions to this volume. The conference strategy called for a general statement of a meta-framework for the study of social change, within which a variety of more specific theories could be identified.

2. Theories of social change

Change is such an obvious feature of social reality that any social science theory, whatever its conceptual starting point, will sooner or later have to deal with it. At the same time, it is important to note that the ways in which social change has been identified have varied widely throughout the history of thought. Furthermore, notions of change seem to reflect the history


Realities of different eras to a large extent. In his essay for this volume, Giesen shows that although notions of time have existed and evolved over thousands of years - from defining time as a period of action and life to differentiating time according to hierarchical position (gods are eternal; empires rise, prosper and fall; humans have a finite lifespan) to the idea of ​​time as progress - stability and order were the norm and change the exception. But in recent centuries, the dominant notions of change themselves have changed. Social change as a concept for understanding the ongoing dynamics of social units became prominent during the French Revolution and the Industrial Revolution in England, both periods of extraordinary dynamism. Pervasive change became the norm, and consequently later social philosophers and sociologists gradually replaced older notions of physical constants and contractual constructions of the natural and rational order with notions of social change, although precise formulations were slow to emerge. For these thinkers, social change was "a property of the social order, known as change" (Luhmann 1984, 471). Also, amidst the changes, observers began to look at the dramatic changes that took place in earlier times, such as in the development of the Egyptian Empire or the Western Roman Empire.

Contemporary theories of social change have been generalized to explain long-term change processes in the past and present. In a study of contemporary theories of change, Hermann Strasser and Susan C. Randall identified the following attributes for these changes: "Magnitude of change, time span, direction, rate of change, amount of violence involved" (1981, 16). From our point of view, any theory of change must contain three main elements, which must be related to each other:

1. Structural determinants of social change, such as population shifts, war-related evictions, or tensions and contradictions.

2. Social change processes and mechanisms, including initiation mechanisms, social movements, political conflicts and adjustments, and business activities.

3. Directions of social change, including structural changes, impacts and consequences.

Graphically, they can be organized as follows:

Social change and modernity (2)


Even this interpretation of the metastructure for models of change is too simplistic, since the structural determinants of various processes of social change include the cumulative consequences of prior sequences of change.

Wiswede and Kutsch (1978, vii) argue that although 'the analysis of social change constitutes the cornerstone of sociology', it 'apparently appears to be still underdeveloped'. The editors accept this judgment and give two reasons for it. The first reason is that, despite the obvious fact that large-scale social change cannot be explained by monocausal theories, such theories still survive in one form or another: emanative cultural theories, materialist theories, and more specific examples such as the explanation of social change. by the size and composition of a society's population (Cipolla 1978) or by changing attitudes of key actors (Opp 1976). Such theories often fail when faced with the task of explaining unexpected changes or when used to make predictions or predictions. The second reason for the underdevelopment of the study of social change is that those who accept the need for multicausal explanations face the difficult task of organizing the vast array of determinants, mechanisms, processes, and consequences into sufficiently complex interactive and predictive models. Simple theories are easier to construct but tend to be inadequate, while complex theories tend to be more realistic but formally more difficult to construct.

Another tension in the academic study of social change is that between the pursuit of general theories and specialized studies dealing with specific societies and periods. Certainly the broader theories of sociological masters still survive and inform the research of many scholars, even as these scholars' focus has become more limited. Examples of a more focused study of changes in economic structure and stratification can be found in the contributions by Goldthorpe, Haferkamp and Münch to this volume; Studies on changes in political and social structures can be found in Touraine and Eyerman's contributions.

This volume strikes a kind of balance between integrity and expertise. Although the contributors and editors took into account Wilbert E. Moore's cautionary tale of "the myth of a singular theory of change" (Moore 1963, 23), we were able to organize the volume around some general themes of contemporary scholarship. of change. . Change These themes are the persistence of evolutionary thinking, structural differentiation and cultural change, theories of modernity, modernity and new forms of social movements, modernity and social inequality, and international and global issues. This introduction covers these topics in the order presented.


2.1. Developments in the paradigm of evolutionary theory

The continued appeal of the evolutionary paradigm in sociology is a remarkable phenomenon, given the controversial history of this perspective in sociology. More recently, however, there has been less of Spencer's evolutionary writing (The study of sociology.[1872],Fundamentals of Sociology[1876-96]) than those of Darwin, who provided models for sociologists (Giesen 1980, 10-11; Luhmann, this volume; Giesen, this volume). Recent evidence of the continuing vitality of the evolutionary perspective among American sociologists can be found in the work of Talcott Parsons (1961, 1966, 1967, 1971a, 1977), Neil J. Smelser (1959, 1976), and Gerhard Lenski (1970). . , 1976), and among West German sociologists in the theories of Jürgen Habermas (1976, 1981) and Niklas Luhmann (1984). The work of Shmuel N. Eisenstadt (1970, 1976) shows a similar influence.

These evolutionary ideas have not gone unnoticed. Parson's emphasis on evolution as increasing adaptability, that is, the ability to control and become more independent of the environment, has been attacked on several fronts (Granovetter 1979; Schmid 1981, 1982; Luhmann 1984). This criticism emphasizes the apparent teleology of Parsons's formulation and its inability to account for the structural prerequisites believed to be necessary for further evolution. West German neoevolutionary thinking also experienced its share of critical reactions (on Habermas, see Berger 1982; Schmid 1981; Honneth and Joas 1986. On Luhmann, see Haferkamp and Schmid 1987). A particular criticism of Habermas's work is that it is too normative and insufficiently explanatory in its validity: "It does not provide a plausible reason why an increase in moral reflective capacity should, in any case, be an increase in the formation of a social adaptability" . person" (Schmid 1981, 29). In this volume, Goldthorpe, impatient with the generalities of both classical evolutionary theory and Marxist thought, repeats Popper's (1944-45, 1945) criticisms that are still relevant.

Despite these critical reactions, the theory of evolution, or at least selected aspects of it, continues to emerge. In this volume, several authors (Luhmann, Eder and Hondrich) directly address evolutionary issues. Other authors, more identified with systems theory or conflict theory (Giesen, Smelser and Eisenstadt), also touch on evolutionary issues. Thus, although Eder is primarily concerned with social contradictions, he also questions the evolutionary functions of contradictions.

Looking at the contributions in this volume, which address evolutionary issues towards the meta-framework described above, the following elements can be identified: trigger mechanisms for change, preservation


Change mechanisms, the end state of change (directionality) and the change process as a whole.

1. Activation mechanisms. In addition to the various internal mechanisms (such as technology, cultural gaps, and contradictions), Smelser proposes to systematically include "relations between societies" as triggering mechanisms. Eder focuses on contradictions, treating them as "mechanisms [that] initiate or continue communication". Communication, in turn, initiates sequences of change. In a related formulation, Eisenstadt mentions "structural diversity" in societies, which is a breeding ground for conflict. And in the most heterodox formulation, Luhmann develops the concept of improbability. Luhmann argues that, in retrospect, all developments are improbable in the sense that they could not have been explained by pre-existing determinants (such as the distribution of power or wealth), but are instead the product of what Luhmann calls of autopoiesis, the tendency of social systems. Luhmann thus abandons the traditional causal assumptions of the theory of evolution and introduces a high degree of imprecision, synthesized in the slogan "the improbability of the probable", in his vision of change. It also introduces the concept of freedom and improbability. in your perspective on change, but not as central.

2. Conservation mechanisms. The authors of this volume develop many of these mechanisms with reference to biological analogies. Hondrich sees differentiation and segmentation as "two opposing but cooperative principles of evolution, the former representing the dynamic, innovative, expansive and risky aspect of evolution, the latter representing preservation, stability and risk mitigation". For his three stages (variation, selection, and stabilization), Eder develops an elaborate classification of mechanisms that includes learning processes within groups, classification struggles, and conflicts between society and environment. With a touch of imprecision, Luhmann considers the mechanisms that sustain change as autopoiesis, that is, as self-referential systems that are permanently produced and aspire to an open future.

3. Directionality. As for the determinism of the final states of change, the participants are transversal. Eder talks about a telos


(of contradictions) whose purpose “is to reproduce the communication…. At the level of moral conceptions, Eder works with the "assumption of an evolutionary change in moral consciousness brought about by the initial dissolution of the religious basis of morality in the sixteenth century" (1985, 10). At this level, telos means the development of a morality based on the subject's autonomy, reminiscent of Piaget's and Kohlberg's notions of moral development. Hondrich, using a traditional biological analogy, finds direction in "evolutionary interests," which are primarily those of survival. Luhmann seems to be replacing his earlier emphasis on the directionality found in "differentiation", "complexity" or even "progress" with a less likely directionality. Smelser, who in an earlier formulation (1959) emphasized both differentiation and complexity as guides, is now more skeptical of very general statements about evolutionary goals or directions. Eisenstadt argues against a directional orientation to modernization based on past structural features, simply calling them "necessary conditions of modernization", arguing that accidental intervention by elites is necessary to create modern social structures. Finally, Giesen considers that the concept of directed development is totally inadequate.

4. General process. One of the features of contemporary evolutionary theory is that while traditional models of development survive, there is also a preoccupation with pathology, paradox, decay and dissolution and growth (Elias 1985). While Hondrich draws primarily on functionalist theories of differentiation and recognizes the increases in size and efficiency that accompany differentiation, he also sees an increasing homogeneity of society and points to several threats to society arising from functional differentiation. Extreme differentiation, for example, always goes hand in hand with the development of a substratum of black markets, informal groups and clandestine networks. Eder also points out pathologies in the evolutionary process that lead to superior morality in general. Luhmann's emphasis on "reverse evolution" and Giesen's insistence that both rise and decay are present in all social processes also underscore the more pessimistic tones of recent evolutionary models.

2.2. Patterns of structural and cultural change

Some of the most persistent themes emerging in evolutionary and neoevolutionary literature include differentiation, integration, conflict,


and especially the relationship between them. The notion of differentiation (or specialization) was central to the work of Adam Smith, Karl Marx, Herbert Spencer and Emile Durkheim. The same thinking informs the work of several contemporary theorists, most notably Parsons. However, both the causes and consequences of social differentiation remain unclear; They are explored by many of the contributors to this volume.

One way to organize existing thinking about structural differentiation is to trace the ways in which this phenomenon has been linked to both integration and conflict. In the theories of Adam Smith and Herbert Spencer, differentiation was seen as a fundamental principle of change; however, the integration of specialized activities did not present problems in their theories, as it was considered a result arising from the aggregation of voluntary exchanges in society. Differentiation (division of labor) also played a central role in the theories of Karl Marx and Emile Durkheim. Marx postulated contradictions, conflicts and eventual disintegration as a result of the differentiation of economic and social positions in economic systems. Durkheim emphasized the need for positive integration into a differentiated society so that anomie and conflict do not become endemic. In his contribution to this volume, Alexander acknowledges the power of Durkheim's theory of differentiation, but criticizes its naive evolutionary assumptions and its mechanistic quality.

One of the most comprehensive theories of differentiation comes from Parsons, who placed great emphasis on adaptive valuing achieved through greater specialization of functions, organizations, and institutions. But precisely this focus on the functional consequences of differentiation, notes Alexander, may have prevented Parsons from focusing more on "the actual processes by which this new and more differentiated institution came about." This lack of attention to mechanisms has been the focus of earlier criticisms of Parsons' efforts (Lockwood 1956; Dahrendorf 1955, 1958) and is central to Alexander's criticisms of Durkheim's and Parsons' theories of differentiation. The emphasis on functionally positive consequences can have a certain apologetic tone, even an "ideological patina". The works of Smelser (1959), Eisenstadt (1969), Bellah (1970) and Luhmann (1982) constituted a kind of corrective by emphasizing more the mechanisms and processes and less the positive functionalist aspects. But the dynamics of structural differentiation is still not fully understood.

The focus on structural causes and differentiating mechanisms is reflected in Alexander's contribution to this volume. He argues that to improve differentiation theory "it is necessary to have...a more specific model of the general differentiation stage and social process." Here Alexander focuses on the fundamental role of war and conflict.


He argues that differentiation theory has so far been unable to integrate the concepts of "political oppression", "savage violence", "oppression" and "war". Distinguishing between polarization and differentiation on the one hand and different historical situations on the other, Alexander works towards a framework that better accommodates processes of change such as revolution, reform and reaction. An advantage of his formulation is that it suggests a reciprocal relationship between conflict, conquest and repression, on the one hand, and processes of differentiation, on the other. Each set of variables plays a central causal role in the evolution of the others. In related formulations, Eder sees conflict as the initial mechanism of social change through variation, and Eyerman's analysis begins with social conflict.

This focus on conflict recalls the Marxist legacy of differentiation as a source of contradictions that destabilize and ultimately destroy society. Lockwood's and Dahrendorf's criticisms of Parsons' formulations of the positive relationship between differentiation and integration moved somewhat in a Marxist direction, as they saw conflict as a central consequence of differentiation, particularly authority differentiation. Dahrendorf's current views on social change still reflect this position: "Social change is determined in direction and pace by that force of unrest for which it is so difficult to find a sufficiently general name, by incompatibility, discord, antagonism, contradiction, and resistance. , through conflict" (Dahrendorf 1987, 11). In conclusion, Eisenstadt's insistence on the centrality of group conflict in the development of civilizational change is consistent with the identified general thrust: an effort to systematically synthesize the concepts of conflict, differentiation and integration.

To graphically reconcile these ideas, we refer the reader to Table 1. The only empty cell in the table is the one that presents integration as one of the active causes of differentiation. This relationship has received little attention in the social change literature. But it is at least plausible to think that a highly integrated society with a legitimate and responsive state might tend to produce orderly structural innovations and differentiations in response to internal group conflicts, whereas a less integrated system might produce chronic, unresolved group instability. It could also be assumed that a well-integrated society would be less likely to export its internal conflicts in the form of aggressive wars. Pirenne suggested this relationship by comparing the "Hanseatic League" of northern Europe to the Italian republics of Venice, Genoa and Pisa:

This league of German maritime cities, which forms such a marked contrast to the perpetual wars of the Italian Mediterranean cities,


TISCH1. Differentiation, conflict and integration in different theories




Social change and modernity (3)



human eye

was caused by

Social change and modernity (4)







Social change and modernity (5)

was caused by

Social change and modernity (6)



it gave them a supremacy over all the northern waters, which they would retain until the end of the Middle Ages. Thanks to their agreement, they were able to defend themselves against the attacks of the Danish kings and represent their common interests abroad. (Pirenne 1937, 150)

Along with the resurgence of interest in differentiation, which is a phenomenon primarily at the socio-structural level, there has been a renewed interest in cultural change and the power of culture as an active determinant of institutional change. This tradition is most reminiscent of the work of Max Weber, who established the dynamic power of culture, especially religion, in social change. For a long time, the main debate was whether material factors were essential or whether culture could play an independent role in change. More recently, however, there has been a rediscovery of culture as a variable in its own right. In West Germany, this materialized in a 1979 special edition of theCologne Journal of Sociology and Social Psychologynoblecultural sociology(Cultural Sociology), including the articles "On the New Beginning of Cultural Sociology" by Wolfgang Lipp and Friedrich H. Tenbruck (1979) and "The Tasks of Cultural Sociology" by Tenbruck (1979). In 1986, a second special issue of this magazine was dedicated to the themeculture and society. Attention has focused on Jürgen Habermas's writings on the development of morality (1976, 1981) and revised neo-Marxist cultural approaches. Interest in culture was also revived in England and the United States,


notably by Raymond Williams and the Birmingham Group, Clifford Geertz, Robert Bellah and media students, notably Michael Schudson, Gaye Tuchman and Todd Gitlin.

In considering cultural change, we distinguish between explaining cultural change as such and explaining other change processes that relate to culture as a determinant. Most contemporary theorists recognize that culture must be seen as an analytically distinct aspect of social life that needs to be analyzed at its own level. But efforts to continue the study of culture independently are hampered by the difficulty of arriving at an adequate definition of culture and an adequate description of its empirical manifestations. Culture seems to present the analyst with a kind of "elementary diffusivity" (Neidhardt 1986). How can we understand the enormous variety of empirical manifestations of culture and treat them holistically? How to deal with the complex and multiple cultures (high culture and popular culture, elite culture and street culture) present in all societies? Or should they be considered a separate block? These are some of the methodological issues that concern scholars of culture.

In his contribution to this volume, Wuthnow comments on culture studies, concluding that the most important approach to culture has been the psychological one, culture as "beliefs and viewpoints, . . . moods and motivations." However, he finds this kind of conceptualization unsatisfactory, especially when it comes to studying cultural change. Alternatively, Wuthnow proposes to define culture as "speech" and other "symbolic acts", drawing attention to "speakers and audience". This definition would be more sociological in nature because it emphasizes the interactive and communicative aspects of culture. It would be a way to extract shared or social beliefs and knowledge (see Eder 1983, 1985; Haferkamp 1985; Miller 1986) and work towards a conceptualization of the mind (geist) as developed in the structuralism of Lévi-Strauss.

Wuthnow's approach also has empirical and methodological implications: it intends to analyze "discursive texts, the rituals in which discourse is embedded". Although the study of symbolic acts by speakers and listeners has developed to some extent in research on small group discussions (Pollock 1955; Mangold 1962), Wuthnow emphasizes institutional contexts and longer time periods in the study of texts, debates, rituals and discussions created. by or occurring within political organizations, religious groups, and even "subversive" organizations and fringe groups (see Haferkamp 1975). Geisen's contribution to this volume follows this strategy. He assesses texts from different eras of past centuries and extracts from them evidence of long-term shifts in cultural thinking about time and the idea of ​​social change. Eisenstadt's conception of the "assumptions of societies" could be given empirically


Importance through the study of similar types of texts and rituals that occupied a central place in the history of societies.

A tradition of sociological theory and research has treated cultural change as dependent on changes in the status of classes, strata, carrier groups, etc. The most obvious and perhaps the most extreme strand of this tradition can be found in the work of Marx and Engels. But Durkheim also argues that changes in religion, morality, law, and cultural values ​​such as individualism are rooted in the increasing complexity of society. Wuthnow divides this tradition into two broad categories, 'cultural adjustment theory' and 'class legitimacy theory', both of which see cultural change as a reaction to or a result of other types of change. He considers both versions too one-dimensional and general, and instead calls for "multifactorial explanations of cultural change... taking into account the specific contexts, processes, and mechanisms that translate broad social changes into concrete episodes of innovative cultural production." ."

To frame this approach in the terms suggested by our meta-framework, the external conditions emphasized by these theorists might best be placed in the category of "structural determinants". However, these structural determinants are non-specific in nature. The precise processes and mechanisms of cultural change, patterns of cultural innovation, or the ultimate directions and consequences of cultural change cannot be derived from it. Such processes, patterns and consequences result from partially independent dynamics that operate within the broad conditions created by cultural dimensions. Examples of studies based on this multideterminant model are Cohen (1955), Luhmann (1985) and Chambliss and Seidman (1971). At a more abstract level, Luhmann and Giesen's programs, which emphasize imprecision, improbability, and more flexible models, emphasize that patterns of cultural change cannot be derived from general structural assumptions.

Another tradition treated cultural change itself as a determinant, serving as a constant source of pressure for change, a release mechanism for change, or a shaper of social reality. Max Weber is the model of this type of analysis. However, his insistence on the "interaction" between religious beliefs and economic activity indicates that cultural changes themselves have sociostructural factors as determinants. Parsons' formulations of change also emphasize the active role of culture. He emphasizes that differentiation leads to a more complex social structure that gives rise to new and more general patterns of value that are important for ensuring stability in a more complex environment (Parsons 1971b, 14ff.). At the same time, however, he places the "cultural code of society" in the hierarchy of social control, "which . . . is capable of controlling action processes at a lower level" (Schmid 1982, 185).


Eisenstadt's contribution, in particular, works on this idea of ​​mutual interaction between idea and institution. It emphasizes that culture and especially ideas play a mediating role in processes of social change. As a concrete example, Eisenstadt takes the cultural ideas of hierarchy and equality and asks how they have different effects in different social contexts. Based on Sombart's questions "Why is there no socialism in the United States?" (1976), adding the question of why socialism was relatively weak in Japan and pointing out the different implications of equality and hierarchy as values. In the United States, the deep institutionalization of the value of equal opportunity has historically reduced tendencies towards collective class consciousness and the mobilization of political parties on that basis, while in Japan, the fundamental institutionalization of hierarchy and the relative absence of any sense of equality worked to the same end. It might be added that class political action became more prominent, especially in European countries, where the two notions of hierarchy and equality coexisted in uncomfortable tension. This is the power of "society's basic premises".

The editors believe they see a kind of theoretical convergence in the contributions to this volume, as well as in broader trends in sociological analysis in Europe and North America. This convergence implies an impatience and a shift away from one-sided models of cultural and social change, whatever their focus, and an active development of multicausal modes that emphasize the interactions and cumulative effect of different partially independent processes of change.

3. Theories of modernity

Among the most striking theories of social change are those that go by the name of "modernity" or "modernization", which also include other related terms such as "development". But within this family of theories there are significant differences as to whether modernization implies continuity or discontinuity, whether the theorist is relatively optimistic or pessimistic, whether the "modern" phase of social development ushered in another era.

Two examples of scholars who have emphasized continuity of development are Weber and Parsons. Weber's description of Western rationalism is particularly emphatic on this point, emphasizing organizational continuities between seemingly disparate systems such as rational bourgeois capitalism and socialism. Parsons posited the permanence of certain values ​​(particularly universalist achievement) in modernization and, in a "relatively optimistic" moment, predicted that modernity would endure.


prosper for another hundred or two hundred years (Parsons 1971, 141). Others see the process as a bit more complicated. In 1883, Charles Baudelaire characterized modernism as half "ephemeral, fleeting, possible" and half "eternal and immutable" (Baudelaire 1925, 168). Hanns-Georg Brose has argued from this perspective and Habermas' position that the general characteristic of modernity is "the contradiction between innovation and decay, new and permanent, and their preservation and treatment of time in modern experience". (1985, 537).

Most 19th-century theories of modernity (although not given that name) were optimistic in nature and based on ideas of progress. Although this type of interpretation has been muted, some contemporary treatments still retain elements of it. In general, theorists who focus on the specifics of “advanced industrial societies” often implicitly assume that capitalism, democracy, market economies, and prosperous societies will prevail and survive (Zapf 1983, 294). Dieter Senghaas (1982) shows a similar optimism. There is no sign of the autumn of modernism in Senghaas. Indeed, a feeling of jubilation, typical of Europe, remains.big bourgeoisiein the 19th century, experienced in the United States during much of the 20th century, and developed in today's Japan, whose business leaders love the term "eurosclerosis."

Some traces of optimism can be seen in Calhoun's essay in this volume. Earlier, he criticized developmental theories for not providing convincing explanations for continuous integration. In this volume, he seeks accountability or integration by pointing to the circumstances that others blame for dissolution and conflict, namely, increasingly indirect interpersonal relationships. These relationships manifest themselves in large markets, corporations (such as tightly managed organizations), and information technology. They promote the much-discussed secondary relationships. However, Calhoun goes further and describes "tertiary" and "quaternary" relationships. Tertiary relationships are those in which the actors are aware of each other's physical presence, as in the case of a county official's relationship with his political constituency. However, quaternary relationships occur "outside the attention and, more generally, outside the knowledge of at least one of the parties", as in the mass media. Calhoun sees this as "the extension of social integration on an ever-increasing scale, but with greater intrinsic intensity, through reliance on vicarious social relations." The particular optimism is that these integrative tendencies act as counter-determinants to conflict and disintegration.


Theoretical literature shows a rather pessimistic list. Weber took a distinctly ambivalent stance, acknowledging the greater efficiency and rationality of modern capitalism, but also emphasizing the growing disillusionment and constraining influences of the "iron cage." Pessimistic counter-tendencies to modernity become even clearer in the work of Marx and Engels (1848), who insisted that the destructive tendencies of modern capitalism would eventually prevail. A variety of contemporary theorists, including Frankfurt School analysts, who focus on "late capitalism", also predict the decay, decline and eventual demise of modern societies.

Bendix (1979) offers a different variant of modernism that softens Western European rationalism with realism. He points to the loss of the centuries-old sense of Western superiority and argues that the excesses in the developments that produced modernity are responsible for this loss. Faced with these excesses, Bendix writes: “The use of nuclear energy marks the beginning of a scientific and technical development that, for the first time in the consciousness of many people, calls into question the 350-year-old equation between knowledge and progress” (Bendix 1979, 13). This assessment is consistent with Bendix's emphasis on the dual nature of modernism's value and his rejection of an exclusively optimistic or pessimistic interpretation.

Beyond these different assessments, there is a general consensus that modernity implies rapid and radical changes, and that the origins of this process go back several centuries. However, there are some differences in identifying crucial tipping points. Dahrendorf argues that the beginning of modernity can be seen in Erasmus of Rotterdam, whose era "between the autumn of the Middle Ages and the first traces of the Protestant ethic and spirit of capitalism, i.e. the turn of the fifteenth century, the key period of the modern world" (1987, 12). Parsons also places the onset of modernity in the Renaissance and the Reformation, but he also emphasizes the importance of the industrial and democratic revolution and the educational revolution that followed. In his contribution to this volume, Eyerman dates the decisive beginnings of modernity much later, emphasizing the impact of "industrialization, urbanization, and political democracy in essentially rural and autocratic societies." More specifically, he identifies the place and time as "Europe in the mid-19th century". Bendix also describes the modernization of changes in social structures in England and France, associated with the industrial and political revolutions in these societies. Perhaps these differences in interpretation can be compensated for by the fact that those who identify earlier origins are more likely to refer to cultural origins.


Lineages and those that emphasize later developments emphasize dramatic changes in social structure.

The question of the end of modernity and the beginning of postmodernism (if there was such a beginning) is also controversial. Basically, the plot revolves around the question of continuity versus discontinuity. Eyerman (in this volume) classifies contemporary Western societies as postmodern, noting that “postmodernity is simultaneously more universalistic (concerned with humanity and nature, women's liberation and world peace) and narrower (concerned with local control and self-sufficiency). However, most contributors characterize postmodernism as a process, a particular type of social change that did not originate in earlier eras.

Elements of any theory of the modernization process can generally be identified under the headings of structural determinants, processes and mechanisms, and outcomes. These elements indicate that theories of modernization belong to the category of theories of social change. In his contribution to this volume, Berger argues that modernity cannot be equated with capitalism because capitalism is only one type of modernity. He argues that modernization implies the liberation and greater autonomy of action groups in almost all spheres of society. Associations built the economy, the state, religion and communities. Then, linking Marx with Luhmann, Berger argues that the economy, once liberated, evolves into an autopoietic system. It reproduces itself from the elements it has already produced (capital, wage labor, profit, etc.). This liberated system, however, can devour the conditions for its further transformation, subordinating the environment to economic exploitation. Ecological conservation efforts through social control and social planning are efforts to avoid this outcome. At the same time, capitalism is constrained from the bottom up by social movements that challenge its autonomous development and eventual self-destruction. We now turn to these modern (or postmodern) social movements.

3.1. Modern and new social movements

Making sense of social movements in the context of social change and modernity means making sense of the notion of process. The term "movement" is conceptually so close to the term change that the following theoretical possibilities are proposed: either social movements constitute modernity, or at least contribute heavily to its emergence. Eyerman suggests the first possibility when he says that "modernity means movement". Elsewhere, Touraine expressed a similar view: modern society is the first type of society to reproduce itself, and new social movements are the crucial force in this process (Touraine 1981).


To speak of “new” social movements is to imply a category of “old” social movements. Writers in this tradition seem to understand by ancient movements those that were clearly linked to the class systems of industrial capitalism, such as liberalism and the labor movements. The new movements are those less class-based, including the women's movement, various ethnic movements, the ecology movement, the peace movement, and the anti-state movement. Conceptually, the distinction raises some problems. Some of the "new" movements, for example the women's movement and the peace movement, have a very long history. It is also possible to identify different types of movements, such as popular revolts in Rome and religious movements in the Middle Ages and Reformation, which predate those identified as "ancient". This suggests that the distinction between old and new that is currently being discussed is mainly limited to the distinction between classical industrial capitalism and contemporary industrial (or post-industrial) society.

In any case, the former social movements are generally seen as representing the struggle for power and control over the organization of living conditions; therefore, they are perceived as essentially economic in nature. These movements were commonly seen as a threat to the capitalist system. For example, Tenbruck (1981) has argued that much of Durkheim's sociology reflects a concern with the consequences of such movements and an attempt to find different kinds of social arrangements that might integrate them into a newly formed society. Although offshoots of these old movements can still be found in many advanced countries, writers using the new social movement framework no longer see the old type of social movement as a threat. Consequently, as Berger pointed out in the conference debate, "the proletariat has lost its role as privileged actor and subject of historical change". Much of this loss of power (and threat) has been attributed to long periods of rising prosperity, the destruction of much of the labor movement's impetus for welfare state policies, and the incorporation of these movements into political parties and the condition.

For Touraine, modernity means the development of a system of production and distribution of cultural goods that threatens the current cultural self-image of many actors. These actors anticipate personal and social progress through a greater awareness of their own subjectivity, but this subjectivity is threatened because culture is currently industrially produced and distributed. Subjectivity manifests itself in two ways: as resistance to domination and in the recognition of the other as the only person with whom one can establish personal relationships. Thus, the new social movements fight for "creativity and cultural autonomy and for the ability to influence all aspects of human experience".


Although Eyerman agrees with many of Touraine's views, he does not assign a distinctly modern role to the pursuit of subjectivity. "The development of a new sense of identity, subjectivity and individuality that distinguishes the modern from the traditional individual" has been the theme of early social movements for over a hundred years, he says. Eyerman considers his own views to be part of the theoretical tradition represented by Weber, Simmel and Michels. These scholars studied the "impact of modernity on the individual and the new forms of organization associated with it." For her, modernity meant "new possibilities for the expression of human subjectivity".

There is another point on which Eyerman and Touraine agree in their contributions to this volume: while the old social movements focus on industrial society and the work process, the new ones are associated with post-industrial society and events outside the work process. But Eyerman characterizes post-industrial society differently from Touraine: it involves the expansion of the state, the explosion of the knowledge industry and the development of new media (the latter intimately involved in Touraine's cultural production). The expansion of the State leads to the politicization of new spheres of social life. This, in turn, provokes reactions from both the political left and the right and raises questions for activists in the new social movements. The tension between the knowledge industry and corporate and state interests on the one hand, and education and knowledge on the other, creates an additional arena for conflict and movement. The mass media are instrumental in creating new social movements and, in a way, become part of them.

Both Touraine and Eyerman see great potential in new social movements to shape the future of modern societies. In his opinion, these movements already announce the characteristics of the social structure that will prevail in the future. In contrast, Eder's contribution takes a more critical look at these movements and describes them as more class-specific. Many of the new social movements have the support of the petty bourgeoisie, who want to protect their living environment: "These 'new' social movements try to formulate a different way of controlling society's professional regulation in terms of health", he says. Grün, aesthetics and the idea of ​​the 'good life' in general.”

On the contrary, Tiryakian believes that contemporary social movements are much more at odds with modernity than Touraine, Eyerman and Eder. Youth movements, counterculture, religious fundamentalism movements, values ​​rationality movements (rationality of values) and movements that imply an ethics of absolute values ​​(ethical attitude) coincide in their opposition to modernity. in your post


For this volume, Tiryakian examines the Romantic movement since the second half of the 18th century, arguing that it arose out of a "rejection of an important aspect of modernity: the seemingly cold, dull, impersonal, anonymous, standardized, rationalized, 'lifeless'". . ‘technocratic’ industrial order”. Romantics subscribed to the view that "the creative center of human energy, the potential to disturb or evoke an order other than the industrial one in question, is often sought and found in the imagination". Tiryakian also sees witchcraft and exoticism as expressions of the romantic impulse. These are re-enchantment movements, which he sees as an almost necessary response to the disenchantment that characterizes modernity. Tiryakian also examines various dedifferentiation moves such asethical attitude(including the radical religious movements of the Reformation, the main nationalist movements and the student movements of the 1960s). He uses the following chain of causality: differentiation leads to a hierarchy of power which leads to exclusion of some groups, which leads to de-differentiation. Finally, like Hondrich, Tiryakian argues that dedifferentiation movements are not just impediments to development, but also forces that promote regeneration and rejuvenation.

3.2. Modernity and social inequality

Some of the contributions in this volume address the interrelationships between structured inequality, group contradictions and resulting conflicts, and modernity. These relationships are obviously complex. Inequality plays an important role in shaping modernity because it generates class and group conflicts that become the basis for institutional invention and innovation that make up the fabric of modernity. However, the increasing dispersion of institutional roles and structures increasingly provides structural bases for inequality. Indeed, some have identified specific patterns of inequality (such as class, gender, and race) as a key feature of modernity. The Goldthorpe, Haferkamp and Münch chapters explore these questions.

Goldthorpe's essay is a theoretical and methodological critique. In particular, he is impatient with historicist and evolutionary models. His general criticism is that these models are often invoked for normative and policy purposes and that they consistently fail when tested to explain empirical patterns of change. This is not to say that evolutionary concepts like variation and selection are not fruitful, but only if they can be tested on historical material. Goldthorpe sees history as a body of material, a particularly long sequence of events of shorter or longer periods that can be evoked and examined to confirm or refute theories.


different generality. The complexity of the theory is related to the historical framework considered.

This approach is consistent with Goldthorpe's focus on a relatively limited set of issues and a limited historical framework: the changes in class structure in modern Western societies since the end of World War II. He believes that accurate and reliable statements are possible for this period. Goldthorpe's account finds that both Marxist and liberal generalizations are wrong: one predicts the degradation of the working class and an increase in social inequality, the other a reassessment of the working class and an equalizing tendency. His main argument is that this and other evolutionary writings (including some in this volume) are too historicist. Its methodological focus is on those periods of time, actors and actions accessible to the instruments of empirical social research. Münch and Haferkamp also focus their chapters on relatively short periods of time and on a few companies. Münch examines the evolution from the American Revolution to the present, Haferkamp from the French Revolution to the present, each of the empirical trends in relation to general theories of inequality and modernity.

Regarding the general diagnosis of patterns of inequality in the West today, we find three general points of view.

1. A group of mostly Marxist-oriented authors see growing inequality, although they disagree on its structural basis. Braverman (1974), focusing on the labor process in monopoly industries, argues that labor (including white-collar workers) became increasingly unskilled in the course of Taylorization and that this process led to further proletarianization. Gorz (1982) takes a different line, emphasizing that the working class is divided between a well-organized core in primary labor markets (characterized by high wages, job security, and moderate unionism) and a fragmented and disorganized lumpen proletariat on the periphery of society. , class work, attacking the growth and security oriented alliance between labor and capital in the form of "new" social movements. It should be noted that the authors of this group almost exclusively consider the labor process.

2. A second group of authors see social inequality as permanent or immutable. These authors describe the current level of social inequality as “stable” (Hradil 1983, 192) or even as “ultra-stable” (Beck 1983, 35). Their claims are based on the fact that the distribution of wealth and income has not weighed more than a few percentage points over the past fifty or a hundred years. Among the contributors to this volume, Goldthorpe seems to be closest to this position in arguing


that neither the Marxist theory of increasing inequality nor the liberal position of a leveling process seem to be supported by empirical trends. While conditions for the working class in the West as a whole have deteriorated since World War II (with many consequences for income, wealth and lifestyle), mass unemployment has persisted, if not worsened, since the mid-1990s. 1970. As a result, compensatory trends subsided.

3. Another group of authors observes a trend towards a reduction in inequality. These voices have been heard for some time: Alexis de Tocqueville, Theodor Geiger, Helmut Schelsky, Talcott Parsons, Norbert Elias, Reinhard Bendix, Otis Dudley Duncan and Karl Otto Hondrich are among them. More recent empirical studies (eg Schade 1987) have provided results consistent with this view. This argument seems more relevant when considering other dimensions of inequality, particularly political inequality, educational inequality and the convergence of lifestyles. The chapters by Münch and Haferkamp in this volume seem to emphasize these other dimensions. Münch develops a general model to explain different degrees of equality and inequality. His model is based on Parsons' perspective, in which many different processes of change are occurring simultaneously, some working towards equality and others towards inequality. Overall, Münch sees the forces driving equality in the US as stronger. At the same time, he points out the double trend in this country, which legitimizes both equality and inequality: "The conflict between these two positions has significantly impeded the development of an integral social community, in contrast to a society divided into different groups social". Haferkamp emphasizes flattening tendencies. He argues that the masses have more resources at their disposal and that this increases their potential for action. He also identifies strengthening the value of equality as an important factor in the leveling process. Up In short, the process of negotiation between the main economic and political groups (economy, work, agriculture and liberal professions) stands out, a process that normally leads to a leveling of commitments and the continued access of these groups to political centres.

Much of the apparent confusion and contradiction between these diagnoses of inequality probably stems from the problem of mistaking apples for oranges. Depending on which aspect of the inequality - the labor process, the distribution of property, etc. - there will be different answers.


Income, social mobility and achievement of status or access to education, power and prestige: chosen as foci. In any case, rather than dealing with the issue of inequality as a whole, it seems essential to disaggregate the concept into its various dimensions, in order to identify the different patterns of inequality and the different mechanisms that determine each character.

The meta-framework presented at the beginning of this introduction is applicable to the study of inequality and its changes. In terms of structural conditions and mechanisms, the two general traditions of sociology are the functionalist approach and the conflict-oriented approach. The functionalist approach emphasizes cultural determinants (value) and allocation mechanisms; the conflict approach emphasizes power structures and conflict processes. Fittingly, none of the three chapters on inequality in this volume falls under any of these headings. Münch lists twelve factors that work half towards greater inequality, half towards greater equality, but these cannot be considered "factors" in the strict causal sense. Rather, they are part of complex networks of enabling and discouraging forces. Haferkamp's approach is more explicitly rooted in action theory. He starts with the actors, especially the elites and the masses, and sees these actors as voluntary and involuntary producers of resources and values. These resources and values ​​become the starting points that define the production and distribution of services and energy. Goldthorpe's theoretical approach is the least explicit, but appears to be more structural (with an emphasis on unemployment, the welfare state, etc.) and pays little attention to the cultural factors that shape Münch's and Haferkamp's contributions. However, all three contributors seem to agree in principle on two related assumptions: first, the determinants of inequality are multiple and must be combined into complex and interactive explanatory models. Second, the interaction between structural conditions and agents (elites, interest groups, etc.) in the processes that generate stability or change in social inequality is complex.

With regard to directions and effects, we refer to the three groups of thinkers' earlier discussion of the directions of change in social inequality and to the discussion of new social movements that have emerged from the pronounced patterns of inequality attributed to post-industrialism or postmodernism. . .

3.3. International and global affairs

Modernity is not only characterized by new values, new institutional structures, new patterns of inequality and new social movements. As the world's societies become increasingly interdependent economically, politically and culturally, so too does modernity.


characterized by increasing globalization and internationalization. Of course, this process is variable. Some societies (Hondrich's "niche societies") are relatively insulated from outside influences, but others, whose fortunes are linked to other societies through trade, economic penetration, and international conflict, are deeply enmeshed in the international system. Different social groups are involved in different ways in the international world. For example, the world of some famous bankers, politicians, scientists, academics and athletes is predominantly international.

Although the relationships between the world and national society have become increasingly clear over the past two centuries, social scientists have been relatively slow to systematically include these relationships in their analyses. Of course, the names of Adam Smith, Karl Marx, Vladimir Lenin, Franz Boas and Max Weber come to mind as exceptions to this generalization. But until about 1950, mainstream sociology focused almost exclusively on national societies and their institutional and group life.

However, after 1950, interest in world society and the international system increased. In this context, it is worth mentioning the voices of Stein Rokkan and Niklas Luhmann in Europe and Talcott Parsons in the United States. In the late 1960s and early 1970s dependency theory (Cardoso 1969) and world systems theory (Wallerstein 1974) crystallized and further developed this perspective. In 1987, Norbert Elias stated that current sociology is only possible as a sociology of world society. In his other works (1956, 1985), Elias, like many political scientists, focuses on relations between the United States, the Soviet Union, and their dependent societies. In a complex and multidimensional analysis, Elias argues that the global reach of the struggles between the dominant power groups has expanded and that virtually the entire world is now involved in the protracted struggle between the superpowers. Given these developments, it should come as no surprise that four of the authors in this volume (Robertson, Eisenstadt, Smelser, and Hondrich) emphasize the themes of globalism and internationalization.

One way to organize the discussion of these articles is to note that each contains an explicit critique of the dominant, if not exclusive, role that scholars such as Wallerstein assign to international economic factors. This "economic program in the sociology of world society" was vigorously attacked by Bendix (1978), who identified many other lines of international influence. Intellectuals, scientists and journalists, for example, are channels through which influences are carried from one country to another. The mechanism by which this happens is that these actors identify institutions in other societies that they consider superior to their own and in which they become spearheads of reform and social change.


their own companies. Furthermore, these institutions can be of very different types: French parliamentary democracy, German criminal and civil law, the British factory system, and the information technologies of different countries.

In his contribution, Robertson also recognizes the importance of economic factors, but adds a "socio-cultural explanation program" to the economic one. Much of Robertson's analysis revolves around the notion of "worldviews," a formulation that clearly owes much to Max Weber (1920). Robertson argues that it is necessary to move beyond society-focused approaches and look at the world as a whole. Societies, especially their elites, shape the world according to their definitions and world order. Memories of world historical events and processes are particularly important, as evidenced by the post-World War II generation's rejection of appeasement and rejection of some of the more aggressive postures of Cold War politics in the 1990s. 1960s. The Concept of Worldviews it affects sociology and other social sciences because they are busy generating images of world society. These images influence the thinking of bankers, politicians and others in world affairs, sometimes through the educational process and sometimes through more direct means. Friedrich H. Tenbruck (1984) has gathered evidence of how American and later West German sociologists were involved in the spread of certain worldviews in the West after 1945.

Eisenstadt's contribution also contains an explicit critique of the economic program in sociology. In addition to economically oriented power relations, Eisenstadt focuses on the independent imperial and global tendencies of the social elite. As the cultural assumptions of these elites are 'exported' through colonization and other processes, they encounter a combination of receptivity and resistance from 'importing' societies and are shaped in a series of mergers and compromises. His reasoning here is not unlike that of Gusfield (1967). One of Eisenstadt's most important observations is that modernity itself (as it crystallized historically in Western Europe and North America) can be seen as a culture, and that this culture became a world culture as it spread in the twentieth century. But again, this isn't simply a question of dominance. Rather, it is about domination, diffusion, connection to traditional values, and continual transformation. Moreover, this diffusion process is marked (Tiryakian 1985) by centers of change of modernity: first Western Europe, then the United States, and now a complex mix in which Japan and other Asian societies play key roles, China appears in the background and the Soviet Union remains a big question mark.


TISCH2. Evolutionary approaches

comparison criteria

theoretical approach

reference theory

unit of analysis

starting mechanism

following mechanism

for the goals

process models



post darwinian

social systems that organize their own elements

Self-production of systems in improbable situations (autopoiesis)

Continuation of the autopoiesis of social systems

Improbability as openness and variety of possibilities.

autopoietic construction, existence and decay of social systems

Self-description of modern societies




Self-production of systems in unlikely situations

lack of direction

many concurrent evolutionary processes with phase change (e.g. start of system 1, decline of system 2, continuation of system 3)

Cultural patterns of interpretation of the time



In addition to internal effects, external effects, especially intercompany effects

B. Routinization, equation, transformation, rationalization

slight progress


(Table continues on next page)


(Continued from table on previous page)




blind variation and segmentation

differentiation and segmentation

Interests of evolution: survival, evolutionary success, heterogeneity and homogeneity

Variation, selection, stabilization, paradoxes and extraordinary development in relation to the master trend

all modern national societies in the world today, especially super societies and niche societies


besides darwin

1. The group

contradictions, conflicts

Variation, selection and stabilization within and between groups and between society and environment.

morals at the highest level; continuous flow of communication

further development in morality and pathological developments

moral representations

2. Intergroup societies

3. Society, Environment


Societies, civilizations with leading elites

structural diversity, existence of resource distribution, elites, conflicts

Acceptance by social movements or masses

Aimless, uncertainty about the outcome of evolutionary processes.

success or failure of change

Expansion of modernity from Europe to the world


TISCH3. Theories of modern social movements

comparison criteria

theoretical approach

concept of modernity

Causes of social movements

Stabilization of new social movements

Effects and consequences of the new social movements

Relationship between modernity and social movements

Differences between old and new social movements

process model


Modern = self-producing society

Industrial production and distribution of cultural goods = threat to subjectivity

permanent in-house production

subjectivation that destroys individualization; restriction of state power

New social movements promote modernity

old social movement: struggle for power and autonomy; New social movements: struggle for subjectivity

Actors cause social change and are influenced by it.

human eye

Postmodernism = 1. structured according to universalist principles

1. State Extension

Continuation and greater importance of the three reasons and causes


Modernity = movement

old social movements: related to the industrial work process; new social movements: related to post-industrial processes outside of work

postmodernism generates new social movements; these produce postmodernism

2. Church politics reappears

2. Development of a knowledge industry

3. Media

(Table continues on next page)


(Continued from table on previous page)


Modern = disenchanted, rationalized and differentiated societies

extreme disillusionment, rationalization and differentiation exclude some groups

the permanent pressure for counterdevelopments -reenchantment and dedifferentiation- arises through the reinforcement of disenchantment, rationalization and differentiation.

comprehensive modernity: disillusioned and delighted, rational and irrational, differentiated and undifferentiated

social movements such as romanticism and exoticism participate in the constitution of modernity; they are also functional

The distinction between old and new social movements does not matter

Disenchantment (rationalization [differentiation]) leads to modernity, which in turn leads to reenchantment (derationalization [dedifferentiation]).


TISCH4. Theories of modernity and social inequality

comparison criteria

theoretical approach

Analysis unit and analysis period

dimensions of social inequality

To diagnose

Causes of social inequality in the modern era

Carrier and basis of changing social inequality in the modern era

Effects and consequences of social inequality in the modern era


"West" since the end of World War II

class posts

Persistence of marked social inequality

Trends in the economic system: Persistent unemployment prevents significant appreciation

actors, actions

oat camp

United States and West German societies since the French Revolution

resources achievements power

Greater reduction in inequality of resources, services, and power in West Germany than in the US.

Individual and mass actors, their mobilization of resources, values ​​and negotiations

Actors, actions and structures

Conflicts that repeatedly lead to reversible leveling processes


US society since the American Revolution

municipal, political, economic, cultural subsystems

Decreased social inequality in the US, but a very high level of inequality remains

six reasons/causes that promote equality and six reasons/causes that promote inequality within the traditional system of equality/inequality

Actors, intentions, structures (non-intentional)

American society is fragmenting into different social groups


Smelser's contribution reminds us that at this moment in world history it is necessary "to reconsider the basic assumption, long established in our disciplines, that the primary unit of analysis in the nation is society and culture". The basis of this recommendation lies in the growing importance of external factors in the internal dynamics of nations. By systematically examining a variety of theories that have emerged over the past century, Smelser distills four dimensions of intersocial influence, dimensions that constitute a model for systematic investigation: economics, politics, culture, and social community. The dynamics of international influence differ for each dimension, but all must be considered to obtain a complete picture of international influences on the destiny of nations.

4. Notes on tables

Overall, the contributions to the theory of social change in this volume are diverse, extensive, and complex. To assist the systematic reader, we have included a tabulated summary of the introduction and main points of the articles themselves. We attributed the contributions, admittedly arbitrarily, to the three headings “Evolutionary approaches” (Table 2), “Theory of modern social movements” (Table 3) and “Theory of modernity and social inequality” (Table 4). In each case, on the horizontal axis we list some general categories that can be identified as elements in theories of social change, and on the vertical axis we list the names of contributors. The cells in each table contain brief specifications of the writing each contributor did for each item. We hope that this presentation is useful, contains few biases and adds a degree of systematization to the materials presented here.


Baier, Horst. 1977. Domination in the Welfare State.Cologne Journal of Sociology and Social Psychology19 (special edition,sociology and social politics): 128–42.

BAUDELARE, Carlos. 1925.selected works. banda 3,Critical and posthumous writings. Munich: Müller.

Beck, Ulric. 1983. Beyond Status and Class?social world2 (special edition,social differences): 35–74.

Handsome, Robert. 1970.Amazing. Nova York: Harper and Row.

Bendix, Reinhard. 1978.Kings or people: power and mandate to govern. Berkeley: University of California Press.


Bendix, Reinhard. 1979. Western Europe as a Subject and Source of Social Science Research. At theSocial Change in Western Europe: Negotiations at the 19th German Sociological Conference in Berlin, 1979Ed. Joachim Matthew, 11–24. frankfurt: campus.

Berger, John. 1982. The Verbalization of the Sacred and the Corresponding Language of the Economy.Sociology Magazine11:353–65.

Braverman, Harry. 1974.labor and monopoly capital. Nova York: Monthly Review Press.

Brose, Hanns-Georg. 1985. The Modernization of Time and the Postmodern Era. At theSociology and social development: negotiations at the 22nd German Sociological Conference in Dortmund, 1984.Edition by Burkhart Lutz, 537-42. Frankfurt: Campus.

Cardoso, Fernando Henrique. 1969.Social changes in Latin America. São Paulo: Distribuición Europea de Libros.

Chambliss, William J. e Robert B. Seidman., order and power. Reading, Massachusetts: Addison-Wesley.

CIPOLLA, Carlos Maria. 1978.The economic history of world population.. Harmondsworth, Ing.: Penguin.

Cohen, Albert K. 1955.Jung offenders. Glencoe, Illinois: Free Press.

Dahrendorf, Ralph. 1955. Structure and Function.Cologne Journal of Sociology and Social Psychology7:491–519.

Dahrendorf, Ralph. 1958. From utopia: towards a reorientation of sociological analysis.american sociology magazine64:115–27.

Dahrendorf, Ralph. 1987. Social classes and class conflict: a finished theory? At thesociology of social inequality,Ed. Bernhard Giesen and Hans Haferkamp, ​​​​​​​​​​​10–30. Opladen, W. Ger.: Editores de Alemania Occidental.

Eder, Klaus. 1983. What's New in New Social Movements? At theCrisis of working-class society? Negotiations at the XXI German Sociological Conference in Bamberg, 1982,Ed. Joaquim Matthes, 401-11. Frankfurt: campus.

Eder, Klaus. 1985History as a learning process? On the pathogenesis of political modernity in Germany. Suhrkamp.

Eisenstadt, Shmuel N. 1969.The political systems of empires. Nova York: Free Press.

Eisenstadt, Shmuel N. 1970. Social change and development. At thereading in evolution and social development,Ed. Shmuel N. Eisenstadt, 3-33. Oxford: Pergamum Press.

Eisenstadt, Shmuel N. 1976.Tradition, change and modernity. Nova York: Wiley-Interscience.

Elias, Norbert. 1956. Participation and detachment problems.british sociology magazine7:226–52.

Elias, Norbert. 1985.human condition; Remarks on Humanity's Development on the 40th Anniversary of the End of a War (May 8, 1985). Frankfurt: Suhrkamp.

Elias, Norbert. 1987. Technology and Civilization. Paper presented at the 23rd Annual Meeting of the German Sociological Society (Soziologetag), September 29-October 2, 1986, Hamburg, West Germany.

Giessen, Bernhard. 1980Macrosociology an evolutionary theoretical introduction. Hamburg: Hoffman and Campe.

GORZ, Andrew. one thousand nine hundred and eighty-two.goodbye to the working class. Boston: South End Press.

GRANOVETTER, Mark. 1979. The idea of ​​"progress" in theories of evolution and social development.american sociology magazine85:489–515.


Gusfield, Joseph R. 1967. Tradition and Modernity: False Polarities in the Study of Social Change.american sociology magazine72:351–62.

Habermas, Jurgen. 1976On the reconstruction of historical materialism. Frankfurt: Suhrkamp.

Habermas, Jurgen. 1981the theory of communicative action. 2 volumes Frankfurt: Suhrkamp. (See English translation: 1985.A theory of communicative behavior.. . . . Translated by Thomas McCarthy. 2 volumes Boston: Beacon Press.)

Häferkamp, ​​Hans. 1975.Criminal Careers: Theory of Action, Participant Observation and Sociology of Criminal Procedure. Reinbek near Hamburg: Rowohlt.

Haferkamp, ​​Hans. 1985. Mead and the problem of shared knowledge.Sociology Magazine14:175–87.

Haferkamp, ​​Hans and Michael Schmid, editors 1987.Meaning, communication and social differentiation: contributions to Luhmann's theory of social systems.. Frankfurt: Suhrkamp.

Honneth, Axel and Hans Joas, editors 1986.Communicative action: contributions to Jürgen Habermas' "Theory of Communicative Action".” Frankfurt: Suhrkamp.

HARDIL, Stefan. 1983. Trends in the development of the structure of layers and classes in the Federal Republic. At theCrisis of working-class society? Negotiations at the XXI German Sociological Conference in Bamberg, 1982,Ed. Joaquim Matthes, 189-205. Frankfurt: campus.

LESKI, Gerhard. 1970human societies. . . . Nova York: McGraw-Hill.

Lenski, Gerhard. 1976. Social structure in evolutionary perspective. At theApproaches to investigating social structure,Ed. Peter M. Blau, 135-53. London: Open Books.

Lipp, Wolfgang and Friedrich H. Tenbruck. 1979. On the new beginning of cultural sociology.Cologne Journal of Sociology and Social Psychology31:393–98.

Lockwood, David. 1956. Some Remarks on the "Social System".british sociology magazine7:134–46.

Luhmann, Niklas. one thousand nine hundred and eighty-two.The differentiation of society.. Nova York: Columbia University Press.

Luhmann, Niklas. 1984.Social Systems: Outline of a General Theory. Frankfurt: Suhrkamp.

Luhmann, Niklas. 1985.A sociological theory of law.. Nova York: Methuen.

MANGOLD, Werner. 1962. Group discussions. At theempirical social research manualOath. René Koenig, 209-25. Stuttgart: Widow.

Marx, Karl e Friedrich Engels. [1848] 1976.Manifesto of the Communist Party. Nocomplete works,volume 6. Londres: Lawrence e Wishart.

Female, maximum 1986.Collective learning processes: studies based on a sociological theory of learning.. Frankfurt: Suhrkamp.

Moore, Wilbert E. change. Englewood Cliffs, Nova Jersey: Prentice-Hall.

NEIDHARDT, Friedhelm. 1986. "Culture and Society": Some Notes on the Special Issue.Cologne Journal of Sociology and Social Psychology27 (special edition,culture and society): 10–18.

OPP, Karl-Dieter. 1976. The behavioral approach. At theProvisional Review of Sociology: Negotiations of the 17th Conference of German Sociologists in Stuttgart, 1975,edition M. Rainer Lepsius, 60–69. Stuttgart: Enke.


Parsons, Talcott. 1961. Some reflections on the theory of social change.rural sociology26:219–39.

Parsons, Talcott. 1966.Societies: Evolutionary and Comparative Perspectives. Englewood Cliffs, Nova Jersey: Prentice-Hall.

Parsons, Talcott. 1967. Christianity and Modern Industrial Society. At theSociological theory and modern society,por Talcott Parsons, 383-425. Nova York: Free Press.

Parsons, Talcott. 1971a. Comparative studies and evolutionary change. At theComparative Methods in Sociology: Essays on Trends and Applications,Edition Iván Vallier, 97–139. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Parsons, Talcott. 1971b.The system of modern societies.. Englewood Cliffs, Nova Jersey: Prentice-Hall.

Parsons, Talcott. 1977.Social systems and the evolution of action theory. Nova York: Free Press.

Pirene, Heinrich. 1937Economic and social history of medieval Europe. Londres: Kegan Paul, Graben, Trubner.

Pollock, Frederick. 1955.Group Experience: A Study Report. Frankfurt: editorial europea.

Popper, Karl R. 1944-1945. The poverty of historicism.Economically11:86–103, 119–42; 12:69–89.

Popper, Karl R. 1945.the open society and its enemies. Londres: Routledge und Kegan Paul.

Well done Angelica. 1987The path to equality: theses and data on the reduction of social inequalities. Frankfurt: Peter Lang.

SMITH, Michael. 1981. Structure and Selection: Emile Durkheim and Max Weber as Structural Selection Theorists.Sociology Magazine10:17–37.

Schmid, Michael. one thousand nine hundred and change theory. Opladen, W. Gen.: West German Publishers.

No, Dieter. one thousand nine hundred and eighty-twoLearning from Europe: development considerations. Frankfurt: Suhrkamp. (See English translation: 1985.The European experience. A historical critique of development theory. . . . Translated by K. H. Kimmig. Leamington Spa, England: Berg.)

Smelser, Neil J. 1959.Social change in the industrial revolution. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Smelser, Neil J. 1976.Comparative Methods in Social Change. Englewood Cliffs, Nova Jersey: Prentice-Hall.

Sobart, Werner. 1976.Why is there no socialism in the United States?Nova York: International Art & Science Press.

Strasser, Hermann and Susan C. Randall, editors 1981.An introduction to theories of social change.. Londres: Routledge und Kegan Paul.

Tenbruck, Friedrich H. 1979. The tasks of cultural sociology.Cologne Journal of Sociology and Social Psychology31:399–421.

Tenbruck, Friedrich. 1981. Emile Durkheim, or The Birth of Sociology's Mind Society.Sociology Magazine10:333–50.

Tenbruck, Friedrich H. 1984.Untamed social sciences or the abolition of man. Graz, Austria: Styria.

Tiryakian, Edward A. 1985. The Changing Centers of Modernism. At thecomparative social dynamics,edited by Erik Cohen, Moshe Lissak, and Uri Almagor, 131–147. Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press.

Turena, Alain. One thousand nine hundred and eighty-one.The voice and the eye: an analysis of social movements. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


Wallerstein, Emanuel. 1974.The modern world system. Nova York: Academic Press.

Weber, max. 1920.Collected essays on the sociology of religion.. Vol. 1. Tubinga: J.C.B. Mohr (Siebeck).

Wiswede, Günter and Thomas Kutsch. 1978social change. Darmstadt: Society for Scientific Books.

Zapf, Wolfgang. 1983. Development dilemmas and innovation potential in modern societies. At theCrisis of working-class society? Negotiations at the XXI German Sociological Conference in Bamberg, 1982,Ed. Joaquim Matthes, 293-308. Frankfurt: campus.



modern and social movements

Ron Eyermann

In this essay I analyze the notion of modernity as adopted from the classical thought of Weber, Simmel and Michels and how it is interpreted in contemporary sociology. My aim is not to exhaustively present the development of the concept of modernity in sociology, but to focus on one area: social conflicts and social movements. My main concern is the impact of modernity on the development and sociological understanding of social movements. In other words, I am concerned not just with the history of a concept, but with the relationship between understanding concepts and historical reality.

1. modern

The notion of modernity, as used in classical sociological theory, has its roots in the attempt to understand the meaning and meaning of social changes in Europe in the second half of the 19th century, namely the effects of industrialization, urbanization and politics. democracy based on essentially rural and autocratic societies. The term "modern" was coined to capture these ongoing changes, contrasting "modern" with "traditional". The theme, if not the concept itself, of modernity permeates sociology and the work of its founders Marx, Weber and Durkheim. In his work, modernity must be more than a heuristic concept. It carried connotations of a new experience of the world. Modernity referred to a world being rebuilt through the active and conscious intervention of actors, and the new sense of identity that this active intervention and responsibility brought with it. In modern society, the world is experienced as a human construction.


An experience that evokes both an intoxicating sense of freedom and possibility and a fundamental fear of the openness of the future.

This is how modernity was understood in classical sociology. A theme that stands out in this description of social change and its impact on human experience is the development of a new sense of identity, subjectivity and individuality. This idea distinguishes the modern from the traditional individual. The sociological explanation for this difference is based on changes in understanding of the relationship between the human and the supernatural, changes in ownership, and demographic changes that accompanied industrialization. In this chapter, I'll focus on the most recent changes. Industrialization involved more than the development of new means of producing the necessities of life; it implied the centralization and coordination of the production, distribution and consumption of goods. It attracted masses of workers from rural communities and agricultural workers to centralized urban workplaces. This uprooting of relatively stable populations has been interpreted both positively and negatively, as liberating, alienating, or both, by sociologists and the people whose experiences sociologists have tried to capture.

Liberation and alienation, however interpreted and experienced, meant a physical and mental rupture with the rural family community. They meant that the traditional social networks that formed the basis of social identity no longer had direct control over the individual migrant. Alienation from the traditional community and its forms of identity and control meant that the alienated individual was open to new influences. The social changes that accompanied modernity thus allowed for the emergence of new social networks and political identities, such as the emergence of "voluntary associations" (in contrast to the traditional associations into which one was born and largely assumed). These voluntary associations, which formed the basis of new social and political identities for the newly uprooted individual, could be labor-based, such as trade unions, or neighborhood-based, such as communities and religious groups. Often these voluntary organizations overlapped and competed for the attention of individuals in their attempts to realign political and social orientations.

Breaking with tradition and the rural community meant breaking with established identity-forming authorities. The new individuals, freed from the traditional collective, were free to reorient themselves and rebuild their world: 'making history', as Marx put it, 'but not on terms of their choosing'. The social changes associated with modernity, industrialization, and especially urbanization were not chosen or directed by the people involved in these demographic changes. They were its victims, not its instigators. Once implemented, however, these changes opened up new possibilities. the social movement


Started "behind the back" of the actors, it could become a positive social force, a socio-political movement for Marx or new forms of social solidarity for Durkheim.

While Marx was concerned with the new forms of political identity created by modernity and the possibility of collective will formation, Weber and his collaborators, such as Simmel and Michels, turned their attention to the effects of modernity on the individual and new forms of organization. that he generates. implies brought to oneself. For Weber and Simmel, modern society is constitutedVonas well asVonindividuals; it is a product of their interactions and not a traditional form of social organization. Thus, modernity brings with it new possibilities for the expression of human subjectivity in forms of social interaction that are not exclusively a product of tradition. Of course, Weber and Michels also explored the new ways in which human agency could be institutionalized and guided by systems of rules that may be just as effective as traditional ways of constraining human freedom, while not being traditional in the sense of having a cultural tradition. long time. tradition. Pattern. Weber's studies of bureaucracy, along with his ambiguous interpretation of its "rationality," and Michels's studies of political parties provide examples of modern ways that restrict individual freedom of thought and action. However, both interpreted modernity as a break with the traditional ties of rural society, which brought with it the possibility of a new freedom of action and expression for the individual and, therefore, a new relationship between the individual and the collectivity.

This new sense of freedom associated with modernity implied an awareness and experience of time. For the modern individual, time implies process and duration; it also includes a sense of dynamic change that draws attention to the future rather than the past. The modern individual sees himself not only as an individual, that is, as a designer of himself and of society, but also as an individual with a future. This experience, along with its ideological expression in sociological theories and political treatises, varies according to social class.

This new sense of time and future orientation applies as much to the arts as it does to social and political conditions. Indeed, the term modernism, used in social theory, and the term modernism, used to describe movements in art and literature, share common ground. Both focus on a new sense of individuality, future orientation and creative possibility, and identify these attributes with individual and collective movement. Like the modernist painter or writer, modernist social theorists—I am thinking of Simmel in particular—sought to capture the dynamics of modern experience in the form of their writing. Simmel's vivid descriptions of the city and the new relationship between the individual and the group in modern society.


it recalls the attempts of expressionist painters and writers such as Joyce to capture the dynamism of modern experience in forms appropriate to the content.

This attempt to reconcile modern content with modern form permeates the classic sociological interpretation of modernity. Like modern society itself, modern sociology faces the problem of efficiently organizing the dynamics of modernity. The modern concept of efficiency means making the most of energy expended and using forces that are already in motion. Once again, one can refer to Weber's study of bureaucracy as an example of an attempt to deal with how best to organize modernity. Marx and Durkheim's studies on the division of labor can be understood in the same way.

This problem of organizing the forces of modernity is directly political in its interest and implications. This applies not only to the conflict that still defines modern political theory today - the conflict between individual freedom and collective responsibility, or, as expressed in the very concept of modernity, between freedom and alienation - but also in the reorganization of social life and identity. individual . that the processes of modernity make necessary. Cut off from the relatively secure and stable networks of the rural community, the modern individual is forced to re-establish a sense of identity that encompasses new forms of political action and definition of the political community. How and in what direction this redefinition of the political community is carried out is a question of great theoretical and practical importance. The Marxist theorists Luxemburg and Lenin had conflicting ideas about the role of organization in harnessing the energies of modernity and in developing the political consciousness of the modern individual. In their well-known debate about the nature of political organization in relation to the spontaneity of mass movements and the role of the party and the professional politician in the development of political consciousness, these two Marxists differed in their interpretation of the type of organization and the amount of guidance needed. to achieve the common goal: the creation of a modern society based on a new balance between the individual and the collective. Both posited that modern politics is about harnessing newly released energies and directing mass movements, but they disagreed about what form this control and direction should take. Lenin emphasized the role of united organization and politically conscious intellectual leadership, while Luxemburg emphasized the need to engage in collective struggles. He argued that a mass movement is itself a form of political socialization in which individuals gain a new sense of identity and a new awareness of the political nature of modern society.

Weber was more concerned with the center of modern political theory


about how the dynamic forces of modernity would be shaped politically. That modern politics would be class was accepted by both Weber and Marxists. Politically, modernity meant class conflicts and interests defined by class political parties. Weber also addressed the importance of social movements in modern politics and the role of leadership and organization in these movements. More like Hegel than Marx, Weber viewed mass movements with fear rather than anticipation. It was politically important to him (as well as to Durkheim) that the development of the "masses" be a transitory and transitory phenomenon, and that the restoration of individual and collective political identity take place as quickly as possible. Without this reconstitution, he feared that modern democracy would not survive. Therefore, political parties and other voluntary organizations were important in mediating between the individual and the collective and in overcoming the formation of mass movements. Weber considered mass movements dangerous because the individuals who participated in them lost the independence of thought and action that was the great positive potential of modernity and were instead exposed to irrational impulses and charismatic leaders. This could easily lead to the re-establishment of pre-modern forms of government and organization.

Although Weber saw mass movements as necessary for the transition from traditional to modern society, he believed that these movements represented a stage that needed to be overcome as soon as possible. Transcendence took the form of restoring the relationship between the individual and the collective in modern organizations and institutions. Modern organizations have managed to balance the new freedom of the individual with a sense of collective responsibility. The means to this end were voluntary mediation organizations, such as political parties, which could progressively re-establish individual political identity. The modern nation-state in which these political parties were organized provided the framework and object for this new modern political identity. The state was another term for the reorganization of political life. It represented a new balance between individual freedom and collective responsibility and was the ultimate object of individual and collective political identity. For Weber, recognizing oneself as a member of a nation and having a national identity was the highest form of political identity and therefore an important aspect of modern political socialization. The question of how the political identity of the modern individual can be transformed back into a national identity was central to Weber's sociological and political theory.

This also applies to Michels. although it is classicPolitical parties(1959) claims to be an empirical study of German Social Democrats


(SPD), is really a treatise on modern political theory. The central theme is the reorganization of modern political identity and the formation of political interests in modern society. Michels begins by arguing that modern politics requires organization and that organization, while necessary, undermines its democratic ideals. This is his famous "iron law of oligarchy". But it is soon seen that it is mass movements and the alienation of the modern individual that make this reorganization necessary. In other words, Michels takes Weber's discussion of the meaning of modernity as the starting point of his analysis: the newly liberated individual and the new masses need organization. Thus, for Weber and Michels, "democracy" essentially means rule by the masses. The dangers of mass rule have already been mentioned; these dangers also require the reorganization of the masses. Michels argues that organization can never be democratic because it is the antithesis of mass movement and mass government.

Before moving on to the question of social movements and their relationship with modernity and modern politics, it is necessary to mention another theme related to modernity: social mobility. If modernity means physical mobility of masses of individuals, it also means the possibility of social ascension. Unlike tradition, often characterized as a fixed and static social structure, modernity, at least initially, is characterized as more fluid and open. Massive demographic movement implies fluidity and the possibility of rising and falling; at least that's how it's usually portrayed. Many sociological analyzes have been dedicated to examining this claim related to modernity. It is not my intention to review this literature, but simply to point out that social mobility is part of the ethos of modernity, both for sociologists and for everyday actors.

This aspect of modernity also has direct political implications, both in its social science formulations and in its political theory and practice. For many contemporary Marxists, social mobility is a form of false consciousness and therefore an obstacle to the formation of a collective political will. For liberal theorists, social mobility, both individual and collective, is a central assumption and objective of politics and political theory. Liberals combine mobility with individual freedom, making it a cornerstone of the promise of modernity and its interpretation. For conservatives, social mobility and modernity are equally threatening, identifying each other as threats to the freedom that comes with the stability that hierarchies are supposed to promise.

In short, modernity refers to the constitution of subjectivity, the social construction of the modern self, and the political and cultural expressions of these phenomena both individually and collectively.


2. Social movements

Social movements are fundamental to modernity. They are central because modernity means movement and because modernity implies new political alliances and alliances in which mass movements play an important role. But social movements are more than the spontaneous gathering of masses of individuals. They are a special form of collective behavior. They are intentional and relatively structured forms of collective behavior. The masses, even the congestion, are made up of masses of individuals, but they are not modern movements. Unlike the masses, social movements are made up of groups of individuals brought together with the common goal of publicly expressing perceived discontent and changing the perceived social and political underpinnings of that discontent. What makes social movements modern is not their collective character, but their purely political character.

The idea of ​​legitimacy is central to the modern understanding of politics. Political action requires at least "that one or more actors expressly declare that themeansthe action can be recognized as legitimateyaendsof action become binding on the community at large" (Rev 1985, 826-827, italics in original).[1]Thus, it is possible to distinguish between sociocultural and sociopolitical movements. Sociocultural movements, such as religious sects or countercultures, use legitimate and accepted forms of collective action - public demonstrations, recruitment, block elections, etc. - in their attempts to increase their numbers and secure the right to practice their faith. However, they generally do not intend to use these actions to make these beliefs or practices binding on the entire political community. When they do, as is the case with many contemporary Islamic movements, they are no longer sects or sociocultural movements, but sociopolitical movements in their own right.

So far, I have distinguished sociopolitical movements from sociocultural movements and other more spontaneous forms of collective behavior. Furthermore, to distinguish sociopolitical movements from ad hoc protest groups, I demand that sociopolitical movements have more or less universally accepted common beliefs. Such a set of beliefs provides a common understanding and definition of a conflict situation and allows continuity from one specific situation to another. Sociopolitical movements must also have a form of organization and means of communication that give them stability and continuity.

Sociopolitical movements, then, are more than masses of people gathered to protest; require forms of organization and communication

[1] This distinction between the means and the end of action is also found in Merton 1949. The argument here is found in expanded form in Eyerman and Jamison 1991.


that allow continuity in time and space. The forms of these movements differ in modern societies depending on the political culture, but the existence of such organizations and communication networks is a feature of modernity and modern politics. In other words, sociopolitical movements are a defining feature of modern politics and society.[2]

Taking into account that modern social movements require a certain level of organization and communication networks to guarantee their continuity over time, it is necessary to distinguish sociopolitical movements from more structured organisms, such as political parties, which are themselves relevant to modernity and politics. . Although more structured than masses and mass mobilizations, sociopolitical movements are less structured than political parties. They expand and contract, constantly gaining and losing participants. They are more flexible in organization and more tolerant of beliefs than political parties because their purpose is expressive rather than practical and instrumental. However, the line between parties and movements cannot be drawn very clearly. Sociopolitical movements may form their own political parties or collaborate with and within other parties to achieve some of their goals. Not everyone participating in the movement needs to subscribe to, or even accept, the idea of ​​a more formal political party as part of the movement itself. For many participants, in most cases even the majority, the movement may simply be a loosely defined or experienced set of beliefs and emotions through which to discover and express dissatisfaction without necessarily being loyal to an organization or political program.

To maintain a sense of continuity, sociopolitical movements require both the flow of ideas and emotions, expressed in public demonstrations, pamphlets, and bulletins, and the stability provided by more formal organization and leadership. Management stands up and speaks for the movements at times when there is no visible mass audience, which seems necessary but creates its own problems.

When defined as more or less organized forms of collective action aimed at social change, social movements are a distinctly modern phenomenon. They depend on and are an expression of our modern political culture, which allows and recognizes mass discontent as part of the repertoire of political action and which is based on the awareness that fundamental change is entirely possible. Modernity and modern politics rest on the

[2] See Barnes and Kaase 1979. Social movements are not aberrations. Rather, they are a continuation of modern political culture. Social theorists such as Alain Touraine and Amitai Etzioni define modern and postmodern societies in terms of their responsiveness to social movements and social conflicts. Touraine makes social movements a constitutive element of modern and postmodern societies. See Touraine 1977, 1981; Etzioni 1968.


Assumption that society and politics are made by men, not by gods or kings. Lack of such awareness, i. h The lack of political content in mass discontent distinguishes modern social movements from more traditional forms of popular discontent and rebellion.[3]

It is now common to distinguish "old" from "new" social movements (Melucci 1980, 1981). Such a distinction is based on two sets of criteria. The first, linked to Alain Touraine, is based on the theory of the historical transition from an old industrial society to a new post-industrial society (Touraine 1981). From this point of view, the labor movement is an old social movement because it expresses the conflicts of industrial society and industrialization, that is, the conflicts between labor and capital. The new social movements, such as the women's movement, express conflicts representative of the new post-industrial society. A second set of criteria that distinguishes between new and old social movements arises from the problems they raise and the site of the changes they seek to bring about. In this case, the labor movement not only reflects the ancient struggle between labor and capital, but is also rooted in and concerned with the labor process itself, with its demands for change and its vision of the future. However, new social movements are raising concerns that established ways of thinking are outside the work process. These concerns are mostly non-economic issues such as gender relations and the meaning of war and peace. New social movements express cultural rather than economic concerns. Its aim is to change norms and values ​​rather than productive and distributive relationships.

These distinctions between old and new social movements provide a convenient way to categorize different contemporary political conflicts and social movements. On the one hand, class and related class interests, which in the past (at least in Europe) were the main source of collective identity and motivation for collective action, seem a minor factor today, at least in explaining social movements. Contemporary social movements seem to be motivated by concerns other than those directly related to income and economic security. Furthermore, instead of focusing on the work process, the area of ​​concern has shifted to the so-called “lifeworld”, which includes issues of personal identity, personal life, neighbourhood, sexuality and lifestyle.[4]Finally, the kinds of demands put forward by the new social movements are to some extent outside the realm of traditional compromise politics, be it labor market politics or representative democracy as it currently exists. Unlike labor movements, which can give and take

[3] For examples of this distinction between traditional and modern forms of rebellion, see Hobsbawm 1959.

[4] On the use of the phenomenological concept of the lifeworld, see Habermas 1981 and Peterson 1984.


their work in exchange for concessions from capital, the new social movements have little to offer in return. As a rule, their demands are non-negotiable and are often formulated in negative terms: against war, against nuclear energy, etc. Whether this approach represents tactics or represents an early stage of movement development remains to be seen. Social movement literature contains a longstanding discussion of social movement strategies and tactics (cf. Jenkins 1981). In any case, the distinction between old and new social movements makes sense from an analytical point of view. From the actor's point of view, its validity seems unquestionable.[5]

3. Moderns and social movements

So far I have discussed the sociological understanding of modernity and modern social movements. In this section, my task is to address the question of how modernity itself influenced the development of modern social movements. In the previous section, I made an analytical distinction between old and new social movements. My task here is to link this discussion to changes in economic and social structure that might be called "postmodern." I maintain that what I call "new" social movements are expressions of postmodernism.

Three social dynamics underlie the development of postmodernism: the expansion of the state, the explosion of the knowledge industry, and the development of new media. These three dynamics of social change influenced and are influenced by social movements. The old social movements were both a product of modernity and an essential element of its dynamism. The labor movement, for example, was a product of industrialization and urbanization, but modern democracy was a force in its development in certain directions. Likewise, the new social movements are both a product of modernity and a reaction to it. However, it is important to distinguish the postmodern critique of modernity from the premodern critique. The pre-modern or romantic critique of modernity focused on modernization as such, drawing on an idyllic past, mostly with right-wing political connotations. In contrast, the postmodern critique of modernity, while sharing some features of romanticism that are particularly evident in the environmental movement, represents a "progressive" transcendence of modernity rather than its total rejection.

Here I would like to address three of the changes underlying the postmodern condition. Westerns since the end of World War II

[5] See the "new" left and conflicts within the Greens in Germany and elsewhere between new and old politics and forms of identity politics.


Societies have undergone extraordinary changes in their economic and social structure. The root of this transformation lies in large part in the expansion and intervention of the state in areas that were once the domain of civil society, including private economic activities regulated by a market and social activities such as childcare regulated by tradition. This alternation between State and civil society, between public and private spaces of action and responsibility, is part of the potential for ambiguity and conflict from which new social movements emerge. State expansion and intervention politicized the private spheres and provoked reactions from both the political left and right.

Second, postwar Western societies also experienced a shift towards knowledge-based, capital-intensive production, which requires a more educated workforce. The transformation of the state-sponsored structure of employment was underpinned by an educational revolution in which the links between education and production became more pronounced and simplified through various forms of workforce planning. What I call new social movements are largely populated by highly educated people, and the content of their critique of modern society is based as much on their educational background as on their professional aspirations.[6]

A related development, important for understanding the new social movements, is the expansion of employment opportunities for women, particularly married women, made possible by the knowledge industries and the general expansion of the public sector. The expansion of service, administrative and welfare occupations, which coincided with the growth of the state and its encroachment on formerly private services, opened up many new employment opportunities for women. New opportunities for work and education helped to create the conditions in which the values ​​and social norms that defined a proper “woman's place” could be challenged. Here the interaction between the convictions of a sociopolitical movement (the women's movement) and a structure of economic and social opportunities in transformation is evident. Structural possibilities and social conflicts grew together and opened spaces of conflict from which sociopolitical movements emerged.

Third, the changes in representative democracy that occurred as part of the

[6] Some, especially Marxists, have interpreted these new social movements as protests by the privileged, that is, as expressions of a new class, or at least new strata of an educated elite, seeking to protect or improve their position against opponents. in the old society, including capital and labor. Alvin Gouldner's New Theory of Class is a variation on this theme, as are the more traditional Marxist explanations of "proletarianization", the "New Theory of the Working Class", and the various attempts at a structuralist analysis of class from Poulantzas to E. Wright .


of modernism laid the foundations of postmodernism. The old social movements evolved into participatory movements. Whatever their original intentions or ideologies, they were increasingly concerned with getting a slice of the modern pie and participating in modern politics as equal partners with capital and other powerful political and economic actors.[7]These movements - and here I am thinking mainly of Western European labor movements - developed into organizations that became part of the institutionalized power and decision-making structures of modern society. Such movements evolved into centralized organizations and became associated with political parties, slowly gaining power and influence but losing the momentum and mass engagement they started with. Perhaps this development was both necessary and successful, as no one can deny the real power that labor movements enjoy in Western Europe today. Outside of ceremonial occasions, however, few would argue that the "movement" aspect has disappeared.[8]Political power and participation were bought at the price of accepting a certain definition of modern politics, administration and redistribution by the central state, and the loss of a social movement. The movement got lost in the dialectic between movement and organization. This development is also important for understanding the new social movements and their rejection of modernity. For the new movements, modernity is associated with a certain kind of politics. The new social movements are an expression of the rejection of administrative politics and its representatives in labor and capital. In that sense, they are postmodern because they reject the class identities and ideology of political modernity.

After this rather superficial discussion of the social and economic background of postmodernism, I now turn to the impact of modernism on new social movements. I analyze three dynamics in this context: state intervention, the knowledge industry and the media.

3.1. state intervention

I have mentioned some of the ways in which government intervention in the social and economic spheres has influenced the development of social movements.

[7] Let me clarify that this does not mean, except of course from a certain theoretical and political point of view, that they have lost or suffered their mission.gentrificationit's the same. How one interprets this change, if that is what actually happened, is a matter of preference, which I have discussed elsewhere (Eyerman 1981).

[8] Here, too, the interpretation of this development is a matter of taste and there are differences of opinion. Walter Korpi (1979), for example, sees this development as an expression of greater power and maturity. From a more radical Marxist point of view, it would be just the opposite.


recently. State expansion and interference in labor market planning, education, family life and child rearing, both passively through taxation and other forms of economic redistribution and actively through the reorganization of traditionally private services, have led to to the politicization of new areas of society. life. This politicization provoked reactions from both the left and the right and brought problems to the militants of the new social movements. While the creation of the nation-state and the resulting political identity were central to what classical social theory understood as modernity, postmodernism is at the same time more universalist (concerned with humanity and nature, women's liberation and peace). global) and narrower (concerned with local control). and autonomy). And unlike modernist political movements, which had a class character and drew their political identity from material concerns like labor and capital, postmodern movements are more idealistic and more diffuse in terms of participants and interests.

In addition to its expanded role as employer and redistributor, the state became both the arena and the center of political action. All of these factors have influenced the development of social movements in the recent past and go a long way toward explaining their emergence, the nature of the issues raised, and the specific activists who populate them. But there is another face to state intervention: the state as activist and political agent.

Perhaps I can best show what I mean with examples from my own research into the development of European environmental movements.[9]The Swedish state has played a very active role in defining environmental problems and deciding environmental policies since the early 1970s. Sweden was one of the first countries to create a government agency dedicated to environmental protection, and this early state activism, Environmental protection activism has played an important role in how the Swedish environmental movement has developed. On the one hand, this positive attitude towards regulation and control eliminated many problems and potential driving forces in the environmental movement. On the other hand, state intervention has turned environmental protection into a series of legal and technical issues. As a result, the environmental movement was forced to accept the state's definition of the situation and shape its response along lines and rules to which it had no part. Thus, the movement developed into more than a movement of specialists who could

[9] This study, funded by the Swedish Council for Research in the Humanities and Social Sciences (HSFR), compares the development of environmental movements in Sweden, the Netherlands and Denmark. For an example of another topic related to this discussion, see Cramer, Eyerman, and Jamison 1987.


They participate in environmental debates because they are familiar with the legal and technical language of the field and have been recruited to counter government and industry experts. The movement has become increasingly professional, which has shaped the types of issues addressed, the types of activists attracted by the movement, and the type of organization used. Professionalization has created a potential gap between an informed leadership and a less informed and therefore less powerful base. Furthermore, the government was able to recruit many of the experts produced by the movement for its own environmental management. Other contemporary social movements have had similar experiences. The women's movement, for example, has been almost equally "legalized" and managed through definition and state interference in the "women's problem."

While this tendency may be exaggerated, as in claims that social movements work for social adjustment or, more cynically, that they are forms of "artificial negativity" that help "one-dimensional" societies to rationalize their forms of domination - the New Movements Social institutions share with the ancients a tendency towards institutionalization and, from another point of view, towards incorporation. However, as resource mobilization theorists have shown, the threat of incorporation, that is, 'selling out' to the system, is often a life-giving stimulus for social movements. The threat of incorporation is often met with protests and the formation of new rebel groups within the movement. This internal conflict is common to all social movements, old and new. However, the ways in which this incorporation can occur are essentially different. The old social movements in the West struggled against a hostile state and an entrenched ruling elite, and they widely sought recognition as legitimate combatants in the struggle for political and economic rights, fighting in the name of democracy. They could be called modernizers insofar as democracy is measured by inclusion and equal participation with other combatants. However, new social movements emerged from this framework of modernity and did so in part as a response to it. For the old social movements, work and the state were the primary fields of conflict and identity, and the means of integration. Equal participation in established institutions is not the goal of the new social movements, nor is the state the means to achieve their goals. They cannot be called modernizers. New social movements fear that their ideas and identities will be assimilated and redefined in the ideologies and platforms of older political parties and thus incorporated into the bureaucratic world of state regulation and control. What was the main aim of the old social movements is anathema to the new ones.


3.2. The knowledge industry

The expansion of education and the closer linking of knowledge production with the practical interests of the State and the private sector in increasing productivity and profits strongly fueled contemporary conflicts and the emergence of new social movements. Many participants in the new social movements are products of this transformation, both beneficiaries of higher education and opponents of its changing goals. The argument that higher education is being manipulated by technocratic interests, which emerged from the student movements of the 1960s, has been extended to new domains by more recent socio-political movements. Activists in the environmental movement use this critique of the relationship between education, science, and state and corporate interests (and the image of nature behind it) as a platform to criticize Western society in general. Many activists in the peace movement share this general criticism. They describe science, knowledge and technology as weapons of common government and corporate interests and identify the military-industrial complex as central to the modern mode of production. The knowledge industry and the links between education, knowledge, and business and state interests provide a common focus for new social movements and therefore influence their development. At the same time, as many activists of these movements are highly qualified professionals employed in the very institutions they criticize, the movements have influenced the production of knowledge.

To cite another example from my ongoing research, the environmental movement in Europe has developed in a particular way in part because of the interaction between professional scientists, both as activists and as representatives of government or private interests, and the movement itself. Partly because of this interaction, the environmental movement has helped to shape the process and content of knowledge production. Many scientists, and not just ecologists and biologists, have been influenced in the nature of their research and the broader theoretical framework they employ by their own involvement or the interest of their peers in environmental organizations. In connection with the advent of environmental protection, new scientific structures were developed or modified to a great extent (the science of ecology is just an obvious example) and research programs were established and funded for the same reasons.

The same applies to the more applied areas of technological development. The concept and development of "alternative technology" emerged as part of an environmentally conscious critique of modern production and consumption practices. Both the development of new scientific frameworks and the formulation of alternative technologies focused on


in the modernist orientations of the knowledge industry. This modernism is identified in the productivist orientations that are believed to be at the base of the production of contemporary knowledge, which see nature as an object of human intervention and deviations. Due to the universalist rational-scientific orientation of much of modern environmentalism, due to the background of its activists and the political-cultural context in which it developed, the environmental movement in Europe contributed to the postmodern critique of modernity. This has the somewhat paradoxical effect of opening up rational alternatives to modernity for modern rationality. Some of these alternatives (not all, of course) contain the seeds of a new way of producing knowledge based on a new cosmological orientation and a new vision of the relationship between humans and nature (see Cramer, Eyerman and Jamison 1987).

3.3. mass media

Like the state and the knowledge industry, new media helped to "create" new social movements. The media coverage and immediate attention gained through modern communication technologies helped transform these movements into major social and political forces, influencing their internal strategies, organization and leadership. As Todd Gitlin has documented in his brilliant account of the media's influence on the development of the student movement in the United States, in many ways the media became the movement (Gitlin 1980). The media shapes new social movements in many ways. Activists are aware of the media attention. They are also aware of their own importance when it comes to creating and conceiving 'events' and capturing the public's attention. Being noticed by the media means gaining legitimacy and importance, and having the opportunity to influence both politics and the general public. Modern movements must learn to use the media; otherwise they will be used and abused by the media.

Modern politics takes place before the public. The media are producers and important interpreters of this drama. The mass media are attracted by the spectacular and the extravagant, either because of their form or because of the values ​​they embody. This makes the media event and colorful movement leader a significant factor in the development of modern social movements. Would an organization like Greenpeace, one of the fastest growing organizations in the environmental movement, be possible without the media and modern communication and management techniques? I don't believe.

Other movement organizations are also influenced by modern media. Gitlin demonstrates that the American student organization Students


for a Democratic Society (SDS), a very small group of well-educated students, rose to celebrity status through the media spotlight, transforming not only the organization and its leadership by prioritizing the colorful and violent, but also its goals and its ideology, giving preference to "radical" ideas and positions, although such views have hitherto been marginal within the movement. Philip Lowe and David Morrison show how the media and media attention have been instrumental in influencing the tactics and goals of British environmental organizations (Lowe and Morrison, 1984). Unlike SDS, environmental groups have received mostly positive media coverage, especially since environmental issues remain free of partisan politics. This explains why environmental activists have fought to stay away from political parties. Lowe and Morrison go so far as to argue that modern conservation, unlike the conservation movement of the past, would never have had its impact without the creative use of media.

No modern movement can hope to gain influence without considering the central state and its form of discourse and organization, and no modern movement can afford to ignore the media. And just as attention to the state has an organizing and centralizing cost, media attention has its own cost. In this way, modern social movements are shaped by several key aspects of modernity while playing significant roles in the development of modernity.

4. Conclusion

I have tried to show how the development of modernism laid the groundwork for the emergence of modern social movements and how these social movements were, in turn, influenced by modernity. I have also tried to show how social movements are central to what we understand by modernity and how they have influenced our understanding of modernity.


Barnes, S. und M. Case, Hrsg. 1979.Political Action: Mass Participation in Five Western Democracies. London: Sage.

Cramer, J., R. Eyerman and A. Jamison. 1987. The knowledge interests of the environmental movement and ways to influence the development of science. At theSociology of Science Yearbook, 1987, editors S. Blume, J. Bunders, L. Leydesdorff, and R. Whitley, 89–115. Dordrecht, Holland: Reidel.

Etzioni, A. society. Nova York: Free Press.


Eyerman, R. 1981.False consciousness and ideology in Marxist theory. Estocolmo: Almqvist und Wiksell y Humanities Press.

Eyerman, R. e A. Jamison. 1991Social Movements: A Cognitive Approach. Oxford: Polity Press.

Gitlin T. 1980.The Whole World Is Watching: The Rise of the Media and the Destruction of the New Left. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Habermas, J. 1981.the theory of communicative action. Vol. 2. Frankfurt: Suhrkamp.

Hobsbawm, E. 1959.primitive rebels. Manchester: Manchester University Press.

Jenkins, JCraig. 1981. Sociopolitical movements. At thepolitical conduct manual4:81-153. New York and London: Plenum Press.

Tenta, Walter 1979The working class in welfare capitalism. Londres: Routledge und Kegan Paul.

Lowe, P. Morrison. 1984. Bad news or good news: environmental policy and the media.The sociological review32:75–90.

Melucci, A. 1980. The New Social Movements: A Theoretical Approach. Part science information19:199–226.

Melucci, A. 1981. Ten hypotheses for the analysis of new movements. At thecontemporary Italian sociology,edition D. Pinto, 173–94. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Merton, R. 1949.Social theory and social structure. Nova York: Free Press.

Michels, R. 1959Political parties. New York: Dover.

Offe, C. 1985. New Social Movements: Changing the Limits of Institutional investigation52:817–68.

Peterson, A. 1984. The gender dimension in Swedish politics.sociological act27:3–18.

Touraine, A. 1977.Company's own production.. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Touraine, A. 1981.The voice and the eye: an analysis of social movements. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


Two interpretations of contemporary social change

Alain Touraine

1. Decline or transformation of social movements?

Social movements cannot be identified with institutional reform campaigns. But they can be understood as countercultural or “alternative” forms of collective action, or as protest movements directed more against forms of social organization than against cultural values. These two types of collective action, more "cultural" or more "social", are present in the 1970s and 1980s. Both the future and the nature of what I called "new social movements" some ten years ago seem uncertain. Those who study social movements have two views about the future of this movement. The first view sees the end of social movements in the sense that they are defined as organized collective action aimed at changing the social order. According to these observers, our time is characterized by movements that focus on expanding individual freedom and resisting state power. The social and political space, in English the “public”, becomes a no man's land between an increasingly individualistic private life, which expects freedom of movement from society, and international relations marked by the confrontation of the two nuclear superpowers and by the resistance of Islam and other community movements against Westernization. Social movements, especially the most important one, the labor movement, are dissolving because our democratic regimes are able to respond to social demands with institutional reforms and because these social movements have too often become instruments of power and oppression rather than protest.

The second view holds that we live in a transition phase between the decline of the labor movement and the formation of new social movements belonging to the post-industrial society. in this society,


Industrialized production and the dissemination of symbolic and cultural goods occupy the central role of the "productive forces" in industrial society. This transition period is in many ways similar to that of the first half of the 19th century, when social problems such as poverty and proletarianization were more visible than social movements that were still fragmented and repressed.

These two interpretations seem to be completely opposed to each other; however, they are not mutually exclusive. Here, too, a comparison with the 19th century makes sense. For liberals, reason and interest would replace tradition and privilege. They believed that an open economy and a liberal society would allow for better use of material and human resources and would increase freedom of expression and the spread of ideas. Such views were not rejected by those who identified industrialization with the development of a new economic regime and class struggle. Marx spoke of the revolutionary action of the bourgeoisie, and most socialist thinkers believed in both progress and class struggle; they expected the development of the productive forces to overcome the dominance of private interests both naturally and through deliberate action.

Both social movement analyzes are challenged by the liberal-conservative vision of a wide-open, ever-changing society that no longer has substance, essence, or center, a society that is nothing more than a series of loosely connected changes. However, critical sociologists discover conflict not just in production but in all aspects of social life and see new social movements that challenge social organization as a whole and propose alternative forms of social, economic and cultural life.

These two images seem so opposite as to be mutually exclusive. The social sciences are faced with the contrast between these two interpretations of contemporary social changes. The optimistic liberal interpretation seems to be dominant today, or at least more relevant in a time of new technological developments, milder economic difficulties and the absence of a major crisis between the two superpowers. This is why I consider the optimistic view first before examining the idea of ​​new social movements, because the existence of such movements has always depended on a minority and has been attacked on the one hand by liberals and on the other by Marxist structuralists, who see no more than than the logic of domination and reproduction of social inequalities in social processes.

2. The end of society

The main impact of the idea of ​​modernization, both in its positivist and liberal versions, came from its assumption that all social structures and systems of social control were crumbling. Modern societies can no longer be


defined by principles, values ​​and norms, but by change, the triumph of instrumental rationality and the destruction of all absolute principles. Positivists believed that these evolutionary changes would result in a scientific society governed by political engineers. Liberals predicted that society would become a market where all goods and services would be priced according to their utility.

But this confidence in reason and change could not dispel a deep-seated fear: how would it be possible to bring order to change, that is, the unity of society, the continuity of law and the possibility of education in a welcoming society? ? What would a brook be like whose waters you cannot tread twice?

In addition to the diversity of its thinkers and schools, sociology is a general interpretation of modern society: its central purpose is to understand the interdependence between order and movement. We must be clear about what classical sociological thinking was if we want to understand the importance and novelty of neomodern thinking, which challenges the solutions elaborated by classical sociology during the period of Western industrialization. What we call classical sociology was actually a finite moment in the history of social thought, a moment we are probably moving away from, built around the central notion of society.

Modernity can be defined as a process of increasing differentiation of economic, political and cultural subsystems. However, the concept of society acquired a central importance in the long period that corresponded to a limited development of modernity, when economy, politics and culture were still closely intertwined. In commercial societies, the state intervened in economic life to protect roads and ports, control weights and measures, and ensure the reliability of currencies. European nation-states removed the power of feudal lords, private warfare, and all obstacles to the movement of people and goods. They imposed the sphere of law on their territories. Of course, the state was not just legislators and judges. He was an absolute power and also a creator of wars. But the idea of ​​the nation-state and a direct correspondence between nation and state gained ground, first in England and France, then in Sweden. It finally triumphed with the American and French revolutions and the Rousseauian ideal of popular sovereignty.

Before the Renaissance, social thought was the comparative history of civilizations, that is, of religions. From the 16th to the 19th century, it became political philosophy. Society meant community for Hobbes, Locke, Montesquieu and Rousseau. Tocqueville was the last of these great political philosophers, not the first sociologist. These political philosophers opposed the social to the non-social like order to chaos.

The idea of ​​the nation-state as a unifying principle was then in


Stage of modernization replaced by the idea of ​​capitalism because the central actor of social change was no longer the nation-state, but the bourgeoisie. The concept of capitalism is not purely economic because it identifies the economic structure with the process of global change. This identification presupposes strong connections between "civil society" and the state, between business and politics. The idea of ​​society came about as a combination of the nation-state and capitalism. Thus, the idea of ​​society, like the earlier idea of ​​the nation-state, is an attempt to connect what the modernization process tends to separate: economic activity, political and military power, and cultural values.

Of the great classical sociologists, Durkheim is most acutely aware of the disintegration of the social order and the need to give the idea of ​​society a central role both in sociological analysis and in the reconstruction of social order. Parsons, on the other hand, was more optimistic and gave us a triumphant picture of society. He identified society with rationality without sharing Weber and Durkeim's concern with the consequences of modernization.

The idea of ​​society is largely a myth. He tries to overcome the growing separation of the main elements of social life by introducing a central principle of social organization. This sociologism is criticized by those who observe that modern societies are built on power and exploitation. and it was as much as rationality, law, and science. However, these well-known points of criticism do not directly interest me. My central concern is the consequences of contemporary hypermodernization, a development that seems to shatter all the unifying myths that attempt to fuse individualistic culture, ever-changing economic activity, and a state increasingly directly defined by its political, military, and political activities. economic competition with other states. The importance of the idea of ​​society is that contemporary hypermodernization seems to be destroying it, and is doing so as fast as industrialization destroyed the idea of ​​the nation-state and gave way to the notion of society.

The main feature of contemporary modern society is the extreme separation between the state and social life, a separation that can no longer be bridged by any other unifying myth. This separation is felt very strongly in Europe, the continent where the first nation states were created. The economies and cultures of European nations have become transnational; its citizens use a growing proportion of foreign products and, more importantly, they are subservient to the nuclear superpowers. The separation between state and community life was less felt in the United States in the years immediately after World War II, which explains the wide influence of Parsons' sociology. But starting in the 1960s, American citizens realized this.


the separation of state and society. But unlike European countries, its own state acquired imperial influence, became a nuclear superpower, and could no longer be reduced to a political institution like congress or municipal bodies.

As military power and international strategy become increasingly separate from domestic politics, mass consumption is breaking down the barriers of social and economic stratification. Although some sociologists cling to outdated notions in this area, socioeconomic status clearly has diminishing predictive power to explain consumption patterns and policy decisions. It is often more useful to consider ascending or descending groups or ethnic subcultures than socioeconomic classes to explain social behavior.

These observations are sufficient to describe the analysis of those who believe in the decline of social movements. Its central idea is that social movements only exist to the extent that they are also political movements. They believe that only the repression of state power gives unity and centrality to protest movements that are otherwise quite diverse and limited. Peasant movements in 17th-century France became important only because they opposed state taxation as well as the rule of large landowners. Had it not been unified by political action, particularly by socialist parties, whose main objective was not to change working conditions but to seize political power, what we call a labor movement would have been a limited series of protest movements. The predominant role of political action in labor movements is evidenced by the fact that socialist parties played their most important role in countries where trade unions were relatively weak and where purely political issues were more central than social issues, for example in Austria. Empire of Hungary and France. The idea of ​​socialism as a global social movement developed more actively in these countries than in Great Britain or the United States. This observation leads many to conclude that a social movement is actually a hybrid of social protest and political action. This mixing often leads to contradictions, as was demonstrated in the Soviet Union in the first years after the revolution.

Following the logic of this analysis, social movements must disappear if political action and social protest tend to separate more and more. When liberals go beyond a superficial excuse for technological advancement and abundance, they defend an idea as powerful as the ideas of progress and rationalization introduced by their predecessors. This idea is the triumph of individualism, that is, the separation between individual needs and goals and the problems of the state. Individualism destroys not only the public space, from institutions to instances of socialization, but also the possibility of social movements. On the one hand, liberals


let's say we see the presence of individuals with their sexuality and violence and their need for security and their desire for social mobility. On the other hand, there is the State, which is above all a military power and often capable of absorbing and manipulating social life, as in communist countries, or of identifying itself with nationalist and religious forces, as in many third world countries. Protest movements against the state appear. They range from dissidents and strongholds in the Soviet Union to the massive anti-Vietnam movement in the United States, and include movements that oppose the constant threat of nuclear war. But these anti-state movements cannot be identified as social movements.

This hyperliberal vision is very original and creative. It was reinforced by the need to find a way out of structuralist pessimism. When social domination is complete, when all social organization functions as a system of social control that perpetuates inequality, privilege and power, when social movements are impossible and social actors illusory, and when there is nothing but integration, manipulation, displacement and stigmatization, then there is Individualism, it is the only possible way out. That was the response of Barthe and Foucault towards the end of their lives, and it is also the response of "California". It is an aesthetic, the pursuit of pleasure, friendship and voluntary groups, and is directly inspired by ancient Greece. According to this view, the real aim of the new social movements is to end society, not change it. The new social movements are far removed from the social movements that fought for political freedom and social justice, that is, from the social ideas that correspond to the unifying myth of the past. The new social movements recognize the autonomy of individuals and groups as their core value. They try to express this autonomy through withdrawal, sectarian behavior or terrorism. Social movements no longer seek to control key cultural resources and models of society through conflict, in which enemies are defined through a process of social domination. This liberal critique of the so-called new social movements is much more interesting than the vague analysis that brings together different currents of opinion, revolts, social demands, innovations and anti-state campaigns under this name.

The hyperliberal view is far removed from both nineteenth-century optimism and the ideology of classical sociology. These believed in the progressive triumph of civil society over the state and the churches and in the parallel development of social and economic integration with social and political movements. This ideology was particularly strong in the United States, where it is another version of the American dream: an effort to build a society that is simultaneously economically dynamic, politically democratic, and socially open to protest and organizing demands. This is why classical sociology was more


Influence in the United States, in Europe, mainly between the two world wars and during the 1950s.

As a partial conclusion, before addressing the question of the existence of new social movements, we must recognize that the image of a civil society in which opposing and complementary social movements collide, with equal faith in the idea of ​​progress, is an illusion . However, this illusion lives on. It was directly present in Italian trade unionism between 1969 and 1975 and in the ideology of self-government that culminated in the LIP strike in France in the same period. These unionists sought to free their movement from the control of political parties and create a society dominated by direct conflict and negotiation between management and workers. But today we know -and we must never forget- that the State can never be reduced to the political expression of civil society and cultural demands cannot be identified with programs of social transformation.

Culture, society and state authority are increasingly separated from each other. The consequence is that no social movement can contain a model of an ideal society. Your actions are limited. Either the cultural and political unity of the national society is strong, limiting conflicts and social movements, as has generally happened in the past, or this unity is weak or absent, and nothing can integrate increasingly individual cultural demands. . The story of modernization is not the victory of the market and economic actors over the state and the church, but the disintegration of the community, the increasing separation of economic activity from the state, and personality problems. At the end of the decomposition of "society", defined as economic, cultural and political systems interrelated and integrated through institutions and socialization processes, it seems logical to announce the end of social movements destroyed by the double triumph of individualism and power. can no longer change a defunct company.

If we look not only at the most industrialized countries, but also at the rest of the world, the most important collective movements today are not social movements such as socialism, communism or trade unionism, which to a large extent have become the ideological bases of state power. , but the Islamic movement and, more generally, movements that claim identity, specificity and community, that combine cultural demands and state power and, for the most part, violently repress public space and social movements. The world seems to be divided in two: Western countries, dynamic, individualistic, anomic and disadvantaged or exempt from collective action, and Third World countries, dominated by cultural or even religious nationalism. Between these two parties, the communist world crushes individual and collective demands


Action; its use of labor movement vocabulary only emphasizes the destruction of communism.

In such a situation, is it not logical to consider that social movements only occur in historical environments where principles of social integration and open social conflicts coexist? Without a principle of social integration based on a legitimate state, a core social movement cannot be created; Without open social conflict and a recognized plurality of interests, social movements turn into rebellions. Social movements, according to this view, were directly linked to societies integrated by unifying myths – of the nation-state or society – and to autonomous economic relations. Now we are witnessing its disintegration in countries where an absolute State does not tolerate diversity and imposes its rule in the name of a common destiny.

3. Post-social movements?

The decline of modern societies, together with the consequent decline of that particular level of social thinking we call sociology, leads us to a description of social life as a flux of continual change. It means the triumph of modernization, but also the end of the idea of ​​society. Much of what we call sociology, if that field of study can be redefined as the study of social life rather than the study of society, fits into this purely dynamic view of social life. Modern organizational theory, dominated by H. Simon's concept of bounded rationality, is the most elaborate form of this neo-rationalism. According to this theory, actors do not behave according to their status in the system, but according to their position in the change process. With this approach, a long-irrelevant word in sociology suddenly takes on central meaning: the word "strategy." Individual and collective actors do not act according to values ​​and norms. Rather, like the state, they act strategically, trying to achieve the best possible results in a given process of change that is never fully controlled by a central authority. Likewise, Goffman or ethnomethodologists portray social actors as states that employ diplomacy and warfare in dealing with other actors, and these other actors are outsiders rather than partners in a system of roles and role expectations. Social movements cannot arise in a “Cold War” environment. The strategy does not require emotional mobilization or collective consciousness. It only demands the rational search for optimal solutions and, mainly, the minimization of risks and uncertainties.

The importance of strategy is not reminiscent of the 19th century, when political life was dominated by mass movements, but of the 18th century.


Century, because not ordinary people, but powerful elites develop strategies. Members of these elites are highly individualistic and value their own pleasure. Such individualism can go as far when it comes to criticizing the established order, social conventions and moral rules, as much as the Marquis de Sade, the legendary figure of Don Juan. In our time, as in the 18th century, love affairs and the prospect of war seem to be more important than social problems and collective protests, which are still poorly organized and pose no significant threat to the institutional order. The social stage seems empty compared to the crowded theater of the 19th century, agitated by democratic campaigns, labor movements and national movements. The present criticizes principles and methods of social integration and mechanisms of social control more actively than the organization of social conflicts and social movements. Traditions are attacked more directly than domination, and confidence in the future and its opportunities is stronger than criticism of power elites. The idea of ​​postmodernism correctly describes this situation.

We live in an era characterized by rapid social changes, a deep crisis of established values ​​and the initiatives of elite groups capable of complex strategies. Our times are also marked by international problems: the constant threat of a major crisis between the two nuclear superpowers and the difficult birth of new nation-states, particularly in the Middle East. There is only empty space between Freud and Khomeini. This space was formerly occupied by Marx and the social and political thinkers who spoke for the labor movement and other social movements, both reformist and revolutionary. Social life seems to have lost all principle of unity. Is it still possible to define democracy in such a social situation? It seems more appropriate to speak, on the one hand, of the freedom of movement of mass society and, on the other, of the constant mobilization of the State in dangerous international crises. The State is no longer at the center of society, but at its borders. The unit of social life is limited to mass consumption. It deprives him of any ability to impose obligations or sanctions, but leaves the individual room for isolation, withdrawal, or voluntary exclusion. These images correspond particularly well to the European present, because in Europe the deep crisis of nation states binds nations to the role of members of a more or less common market and to an economic and cultural space in which extreme individualism and mass culture are gift. as easily as possible and work together to eliminate all forms of active social and political participation. Intermediate instances - parties, unions, churches - are weakened. In the gap between planetary and individual problems, it seems impossible to organize collective action. The concept of a good or just society cannot be defined because the very idea of ​​society is disappearing. We rarely refer to social systems, institutions,


and power structures, but often we refer to the processes of change, their risks and their positive aspects.

Let us once again accept the conclusion drawn from the decline of the idea of ​​society and its immediate consequence: the decomposition of collective action aimed at transforming social, economic, and political organization. But can we conclude from this disappearance of a long period of direct correspondence between the nation-state, socio-economic organization and cultural demands that there can no longer be a central principle of social organization and that no social, that is, collective, movement can exist? action, can there be any more that aim to control the resources and can the main cultural models be organized? This is the core problem. The term social movement is not relevant when it is used to designate a heterogeneous set of protest actions and conflicts that try to change certain aspects of social and political organization. However, the term occupies a central place in sociological analysis when it introduces the hypothesis that there is a central conflict in a given society -for example, about political freedoms or labor rights- and that this conflict is related to the defense of social cores and rights cultural. values, for example, inner peace or economic development. For these reasons, the analysis of social movements cannot be separated from the question of the unity of the social situation in which they appear. In the past, we defined this unit as a culture, then as a civilization, then as a political regime, then as social relations of production, and finally as a socioeconomic system. Does this unity take a new form in today's industrial societies, or, as I just mentioned, does it disappear to be replaced by limitless and loosely connected change? And what could this principle of unity be if it is no longer the rules of exchange of the community, the collective creeds of a civilization, the modern nation-state or the capitalist system? In the past, modern societies have always answered this question by introducing a new principle of unity and at the same time destroying an old one. But perhaps the time has come when there is only one nihilistic answer to these questions. Is not current sociology suffocated by the ruins of the idea of ​​society and its concrete form, the functionalist school?

The answer cannot be new; it must come from the bosom of the western cultural tradition, because it arose necessarily along with the modernization process itself. I have already noted above that, with the decline of religion and political principles of social integration, the concept of the individual subject, that is, the production of individualization, has become increasingly important. The subject, also called conscience in the western tradition, is not an expression of an absolute, transcendent or individual existence. It is the awareness of the human capacity to create and change its environment and its culture. In the sixteenth century, modernization not only produced a new rationalism


and a rapid development of the natural sciences; the Reformation also creates a new moral individualism. With the development of civil society, personal feelings, morality and privacy are emphasized. Today, the subject is defined by his capacity and right to oppose political or cultural processes and to defend his freedom. As we move away from religion and what Comte called the metaphysical age, the subject ceases to be transcendent and becomes a principle of protest against the social and political order.

The idea of ​​the subject is related to and opposes the idea of ​​the individual. It is connected because it implies letting go of community ties and even social roles; is rejected because utilitarianism leads to a deterministic view of human behavior that is said to be guided by self-interest. On the contrary, the defense of personal freedom and, in particular, the capacity of each individual to choose and control their individual life, creates a constant tension between the logic of social inclusion and the reference to human rights.

The individual subject can be the principle of collective action only when two conditions are met. First, the defense of the subject must not be just an appeal to identity; On the contrary, it must be a force of resistance to the dominance of the person's language, tastes, values ​​and projects. This advocacy is becoming much more important today than it used to be, because the industrialized production and distribution of cultural goods is becoming increasingly important. The second condition is that the individual cannot present himself as a subject unless he recognizes other individuals as subjects. This idea has become increasingly central to our culture; we call it "love". The individual becomes a subject through love and ceases to be one when, as Levinas repeatedly emphasized, it denies other individuals the right or opportunity to be subjects.

The contrast with industrial society is striking. The liberation of individuals and societies was identified with the development of "productive forces" and freedom with modernization. In a post-industrial society - defined by the central role of "cultural" industries - the freedom of the individual subject must be defended against mass production and consumption. The picture of our society is dominated by this bipolar view, rationalization on the one hand, "subjectivization, that is, recognition of the rights of individuals and groups" on the other, rather than the uniform "progressive" view of modernity that is so visible in theories of modernization. This transformation is probably felt more in Europe than in North America because of memories of totalitarian regimes that shattered nineteenth-century European optimism. Social movements no longer intend to control and redirect the modernization process; they oppose moral principles with "full" force. It is


New movements not only assert principles and goals; they are also defined by their opposition to the social and cultural forces that govern the production of symbolic goods. These movements see this conflict as central to the new post-industrial society, organized around the production of symbolic or cultural services, such as the mass media that shape our worldview, health care that shapes our perception of life, birth, reproduction, disease and death, and, to some extent, science and education.

Let us again compare the two contrasting pictures of social life. What we describe, on the one hand, is the picture of a diverse and continuous change that suppresses all principles of unity and integration of the social system and completely separates the individual actors from each other. These actors pursue utilitarian strategies in states that are increasingly legislators and less legislators. On the other hand, there is an image of a social system organized around the production and diffusion of cultural goods and structured by conflicts between those who dominate this production and those who resist domination, who are neither citizens nor workers, but who are exercised as people about them. .

These two images are not contradictory: they are complementary and opposite. Democracy cannot exist if there is no way out of a central social conflict and if there is no external element that can mediate between conflicting interests. The liberal reference to social change and the creation of new opportunities is the classic way of finding compromises between conflicting class interests. An open geographic, technological, and economic frontier allows a society to negotiate the outcomes of growth, rather than being stifled by crippling conflicts. But if social conflicts are to be complemented by an open political system, that system, to be representative and democratic, must be based on social conflicts.

Although these two images complement each other in some ways, they are in opposition. The strategic approach to social life is more in line with the interests of powerful categories, the conflict-oriented approach appeals to those who feel dominated, and the idea of ​​the subject appeals more directly to intellectuals. But this apparent resistance is limited. First, in a society where the main social conflicts are organized around it, the idea of ​​the subject is not a purely abstract idea. Second, utilitarianism is not exclusive to the rich and powerful in a consumer society. Finally, social conflicts and the subject are inseparable concepts: the central social conflicts refer to contradictory points of view on the formation of the subject. Liberal utilitarianism, social movements and the idea of ​​the subject are intertwined, as are the opposing teams and the field on which they compete.

It's most helpful to realize that each of these three main themes can do this.


they take on a relatively different meaning depending on the historical situation. Here we can use the Greek distinction between periods and epochs, that is, between types of society and transitional processes. Periods are historical sets organized around specific cultural orientations and social conflicts. Times are moments of awakening and transformation. In times of transition such as the Renaissance, individualism, the departure from traditional rules, increased competition and the threat of war spread. Are we living today in a new historical period, or are we still in a time of upheaval and transition? I think we're getting out of that time. What came to be known as the new social movements in the 1970s and early 1980s expressed in many cases this crisis of industrial values, a push towards a more liberal society and a deep concern about the risks of war. During the last decade, the desocialization of society has been evident. This situation is reminiscent of the late nineteenth century, when Durkheim was sensitive to the decline of traditional forms of social control and Weber, in addition to his concerns about the effects of modernization, was fascinated by the value orientations of a modernized society.

There is another way of contrasting historical situations. Sometimes, through achievements and "compromises", the subject becomes self-aware. In other cases, however, the subject becomes self-conscious by fighting against reification, that is, detaching and freeing himself from the world of objects. Thus, an epic image of the subject is criticized for a romantic image of his self-production process. The subject is never placed in the middle of social life, like the image of the prince or the symbols of national unity; It is the common reference of contradictory social actors, both in their positive projects and in their attacks on what they see as dangerous for the subject. No particular actor can identify with the problem.

I conclude that the hypermodernity of our society, by destroying the possibility of a lasting order and the very idea of ​​society, makes the formation of “right” social movements unfeasible. But collective movements were not always social; often they were religious before they developed into a political or economic field. Conflicting social interests and cultural innovations were expressed in religious forms from the time of ancient societies to 16th century Europe. Likewise, so-called social movements are less and less specifically social. Its main objective is no longer the creation of an ideal society, but the defense of the subject's freedom and creativity in a universe that seems to be dominated by money and pleasure, technology and war. Perhaps we are already living in a new historical period, in a post-industrial society. One of the arguments for this hypothesis


it is the need to distinguish two types of collective action, different from the social movements characteristic of industrial society: on the one hand, there is a new advance of individualism and a new fear of war and catastrophe; On the other hand, there are the new social movements that challenge the control over cultural goods.

4. Social movements and historical movements

In the previous section, I concluded that social movements did not succeed in a fully bourgeois society, as nineteenth- and twentieth-century progressives had hoped, nor did they disappear. Instead, we see a growing disconnect between the two axes of collective action on which social actors can reside: synchronic and diachronic. The synchronic axis locates actors according to their roles in a social system defined by the level of "historicity" (ie, the ability to produce themselves). The diachronic axis orders the actors according to their involvement in the change process and according to the strategies that align this process. When we speak of social movements, we refer almost exclusively to dominated and powerless actors. Earlier I noted that strategies for change or development are easier for powerful elite groups to devise. However, it is a mistake to identify each of these main orientations of collective behavior with a particular social category. Instead, we need to offer a more complete view of the actors in social life and the historical process, defining both dominant and dominated actors in structural conflicts and processes of historical change. The term social movement should not be used to characterize only oppositional forces or low status groups. Rather, the term identifies the main actors, both dominant and dominated, of central social conflicts through which key cultural resources and values ​​are transformed into forms of political and social organization. Social movements are those movements that deal with structural problems in a given society. Historical movements are those intended to control the process of historical development. The division between the two categories of problems and actors is more extreme in our societies, which have reached a high degree of historicity, than in the industrial age. While British and American social thought was more influenced by liberalism and emphasized processes of change, German and French social thinkers, especially Marxists, emphasized structural conflicts.

Having recognized the strength and influence of hyperliberal ideas that identify social problems with the processes of social change and modernization, we will try to provide a more comprehensive view of the collective actors in our society, considering the historical movements that resist the process of change. the elite that controls this process.


The anti-nuclear and environmental movements are opposed to a hyper-industrialization that destroys natural balances and strengthens militarism. They attack not only the social elite, but also beliefs in economic growth and new technologies, which they consider illusory, dangerous and self-destructive, creating unbearable tensions and conflicts in the world that could lead to an apocalyptic war. This criticism is usually aimed at technocrats, but it often has an anti-capitalist component that maintains some continuity with the labor movement. The continuity of revolutionary socialism for the new social movements was reinforced by the central role of the radical left in the protest campaigns that gained strength from 1968 onwards. This radicalism expressed itself through a post-Marxist structuralism that denounced all aspects of social life as representative logic of domination, manipulation and exclusion in favor of dominant groups. This radical critique is directed against what Althusser called the ideological state apparatuses. This expression makes it clear that the enemy is no longer a social class or even a power elite, but the State itself as a system of total control. This is clear evidence that this radicalism is not a social movement but a historical movement and that it is anti-modern or anti-state rather than anti-capitalist. Its main concern is the fight against the identification of the totalitarian state with modernization and growth.

This unconcern in defining relevant social actors and the globality of their attacks distinguish these "critical" intellectuals from social movements, always organized around a social conflict between well-defined actors. Historical movements constantly oscillate from a global countercultural critique to a series of loosely connected campaigns because the lack of a clear definition of the parties to a social conflict deprives it of any stabilizing principle. However, historical movements like political ecology are not just countercultural; combine criticism of the economic process of change with attacks on a power that defines itself more politically than socially. When this conflictual dimension disappears, a historical movement can become a sect, marginalized by the rejection of cultural orientations and forms of social organization.

If we define a social movement as the confrontation of groups that face each other for the control and use of the most important resources and cultural values, anti-nuclear and ecological actions are not social movements, both in terms of knowledge and in terms of ethics and economic life. Rather, they are "alternative" movements that attempt to transform cultural orientations, social organization, and political power globally. Its anti-militarist and anti-modernist actions are in direct contrast to the individualism and policies of the ruling group, which values ​​any social change it can exploit for its own interests. The historic optimism of the ruling group values ​​utility and pleasure;


The pessimism of alternative movements resists policies and programs that they see as driven by impulses of power and death.

These two movements have one thing in common: both are more political than social, that is, they question processes of change more than forms of social organization. Their common strength is to define themselves at the state level and to intervene directly in the midst of public life.

The new social movements that protest against the power that controls the production of cultural goods are different from and in many ways opposed to these historical "alternative" movements. Debates and conflicts over the impact of media or biological and medical technologies are not political discussions. Rather, they challenge the sociocultural domain while accepting positive judgments about modern technology in general. Today, as at the dawn of industrial society, social movements and historical movements blend and separate, but there is always a great distance between social movements that attack civil powers and historical movements that oppose the state. That gap is even greater today than the gulf that separated trade unions from communist or socialist groups in the early 19th century.

Feminist movements are more complex. It is necessary to distinguish in them at least two different orientations. On the one hand, there is feminist liberalism, which is an emancipatory movement in the tradition of the British and American reform movements of the 19th century. This movement rejects the identification of women with private life and fights for women's equal participation in all aspects of public life and especially in all professions, law and politics. Simone de Beauvoir was the central figure of this progressive liberalism, which occasionally becomes radicalized by aligning itself with socialist ideas, but is most influential among women entering the social and professional elites. The women's liberation movement is very different from this liberal or radical feminism. It emphasizes the peculiarities of female sexuality and directly combats male domination. This movement was particularly active in the United States, and its links to psychoanalysis were emphasized both by American writers and by A. Fouque, leader of the most militant group in France. The liberal wing of the women's liberation movement is a historic movement, and its optimism parallels the orientations of dominant groups. The radical wing of the women's liberation movement is a social opposition movement. It is fragile because it emphasizes female sexuality and differences between men and women. The difficulty of establishing egalitarian heterosexual relationships runs the risk of isolating combative women in a homosexual split that can lead to the creation of a marginal culture that ceases to be a social movement. This fragility, which contrasts with the effectiveness of liberal feminism, should not prevent us from


not seeing the deep and lasting impact of a movement that is transforming the relationship between men and women.

The experience of industrial society clearly shows the two main obstacles that impede the development of social movements. On the one hand, since such movements are not political but purely social, they are likely to dissolve into a large number of campaigns and protest movements. On the other hand, when it is closely linked to political action —as was the trade union movement, generally subordinated to socialist parties—, this action imposes its rules on social movements and can even lay the foundations of a new “popular” political power. social movements and public liberties.

Today's anti-nuclear movements are far from serving an authoritarian state, but their main strength lies in an anti-state orientation. This orientation is particularly evident in Germany, a country still scarred by the horrors of the Nazi regime. Like nationalism, this anti-nationalism represents a predominance of political over social orientations.

The idea of ​​a growing divide between social and historical movements will not be easily accepted. On the contrary, many think that the gap between these two types of collective action is narrowing or even disappearing. This idea was one of the main assumptions of theLinkand I consider it one of the main obstacles to the formation of social movements in western countries. If we look at Soviet society, it is true that, at least during the Brezhnev era, the global, national and cultural protest of Solzhenitsyn or Bukovsky was stronger than the social critique elaborated by Pliocht or Sakharov. But if we look at Western countries, it is wrong and almost absurd to say that all aspects of social life are subservient to the interventions of repressive and military state power.

It is too early to say how new social movements will grow, but it seems reasonable to expect that social movements that challenge cultural domination will be further removed from political action than the labor movement in industrial society and even further removed will be peasant movements. and artisans that characterized pre-industrial societies. In many countries, especially Germany and France, we see the separation of two types of protest. In France, from May 1968, two opposing movements emerged: one attacked the state and used a vocabulary drawn from the revolutionary tradition; the other revived grassroots movements, particularly women's liberation and campaigns for migrant workers. In other countries the same duality is visible. For example, in the United States of the 1960s, the student movement at Berkeley was very different from the radical political orientation of student protests at universities like Columbia or Cornell.


Like their predecessors, these new social movements have both a defensive and an offensive face. The defensive face is the most visible: defending the identity and, sometimes, the community against the dominance of new technologies and new powers. The stronger this defensive action is, the more likely it is that the social movement or historical movement will fight against the State, because when a social actor feels incapable, he rejects society, power and modernity globally. Offensive action tends to identify optimistically with new cultural orientations that seek to control and dismiss their enemies as obstacles to progress. Here, social movements run the risk of fitting too quickly and easily into the institutional system and being absorbed by political forces. Offensive action brings to light more clearly the problems and orientations of a post-industrial society. In particular, he replaces the old idea of ​​evolution with the idea of ​​systems, acting in the name of a cultural rather than an economic cause.

Liberal criticism of social movements has rightly shown that, strictly speaking, new social movements must leave the political field because they defend individuals who feel threatened -but at the same time moved- by ​​new cultural productions. Private life does not replace public life, as is often claimed; on the contrary, it becomes the core of public life. Culture becomes political just as economics became political in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, when workers and artisans struggled as producers and agents of practical reason against the irrationality of profit.

Today individuals are dominated in their perceptions and emotions. They cannot resist this domination, but they oppose it with all their personality, imagination, primary groups and personal projects. This view of the individual corresponds to the new global definition of the social field, which is no longer a collective activity that changes nature, but a system whose elements are interdependent and whose modernity is characterized by its level of complexity and capacity for interdependence. External communication is defined. A communication society replaces a production society in the same way that a Cartesian "soul" is replaced by an existentialist image of the subject.

To complete this definition of the main social and historical actors of our time, let us not forget the social movement created by those who control the production and dissemination of cultural goods. The leaders of these industries, like all dominant groups, are not just looking for more profit or more power; they strive to create social movements that organize our society's key cultural resources and models in ways that serve their interests. This new elite speaks of creativity, complexity and freedom of choice. Combine these values ​​with the development of a centralized system of cultural production and with the diffusion of new


Needs and new values ​​of success and seduction. In particular, it favors the pursuit of pleasure, commercial eroticism and the discovery of cultures historically or geographically different from our own. These are important elements of elite ideology. Social opposition movements have criticized the emphasis on greed and status symbols and the commercialization of interpersonal and cultural experiences.

5. From old to new social movements

The protest movements, opinion campaigns and social conflicts grouped under the vague name of social movements, which attracted the interest of an extraordinarily large number of sociologists in the 1970s, constitute a very heterogeneous set of collective actions. Here I try to unravel the phenomena that merged in a situation of economic and cultural crisis. Let's summarize the results of our analysis. Three main types of collective behavior can be distinguished.

The first type includes those that manifest the crisis and decay of industrial society. After a long period of growth and dominance of the ideology of modernization, protest movements reject the idea of ​​development. The Clud of Rome was one of the first groups to criticize the myth of endless growth and recognize the limits of growth.

Many people today are convinced that we must stop evolving and enter a new balance. They defend the idea of ​​self-sustaining equilibrium against the idea of ​​self-sustaining growth. From this idea is born the fascination for oriental cultures. Although only superficially known, these cultures are used as expressions of opposition to aggressive rationalism.

The second type of collective behavior centers on hypermodern ideas in which systems and structures are replaced by processes of change. The more optimistic groups developed strategic visions of these changes to use in their own interests. The most pessimistic groups are concerned with a possible loss of individual cultural identity and the uprooting of a society that increasingly resembles a market in which nothing prevents the strongest from dominating the weakest.

The convergence of criticism of industrial society, sometimes inherited from socialist ideas, and the anti-developmentalist movement led to the success of aLinkwhich took on new forms in the struggle against cultural and economic domination. But thatLinkit was far from being a class-conscious movement like the labor movement. It wasn't even specifically anti-capitalist. Instead, he rejected all aspects of the process of modernization and cultural change. He did not believe in the existence of collective actors or the possibility of new liberation movements. She limited herself to one


complete and closed system of government. His pessimism stemmed in part from his tendency to stay within the confines of industrial capitalism, Marxism and the labor movement, and in part from an awareness of the failures and crimes of the professed regimes of the future US labor movement. . and be socialists. . . This explains his vision of society as a coherent system of signs and instruments of domination. His image of social life can be described as semiological because he considers all social phenomena as signs of an omnipresent logic of domination and exclusion. This extreme view gained mainstream influence in sociology in the 1970s after the optimistic view of social development shared by functionalists and Marxists collapsed. It entered sociological thought later in the United States than in Europe, but it established itself later in the United States than in France, where it almost completely disappeared in the late 1970s. Only in Germany did it draw on a strong spiritual tradition.

The third type of collective behavior involves the control and use of key cultural resources. On the one hand, a dominant ideology emphasizes consumer individualism, proudly creating a society increasingly rich in information and communication opportunities. Opposition movements, on the other hand, defend identity and community while imagining a society more conducive to initiative, personal development, and interpersonal communication.

The sociological analysis that separates the different meanings of collective behavior can never be identified with historical analysis, because historical analysis gives a synthetic view of the different analytical meanings that intertwine in complex phenomena. What sociological analysis considers most important is usually not what has the most profound and lasting effects from the point of view of historical analysis. Protest movements depend even more on external factors for their historical successes or failures than on their intrinsic importance. The relative historical importance of crisis behavior, responses to change, and social movements depends primarily on a collective's ability to transition from one form of society to another. Where dynamism and creativity are at a low level, crisis behavior and criticism of modernization are strong. When the construction of a new form of society and culture is active, positive and negative reactions to social changes gain space. Finally, when a new type of society has already been built and when the break with the interests and values ​​of the old society is complete, the new social movements gain a central place and define new problems and values.

Schematically, crisis behavior is even more pronounced in Europe, especially in older industrialized countries, and in the United States positive and negative reactions to social changes predominate. In this way, new social movements are emerging on both sides in different contexts.


of the Atlantic. In some European countries, especially Germany, socially critical thinking is stronger because it is more directly based on anti-state attitudes. In the United States, the creation of new cultural orientations is more active because new social movements are associated with anti-state attitudes, as in Germany, but unlike Germany, attacks are directed more against an "imperialist" state than against destruction . of society by the power of the state. For this reason, new social movements are more influential in the United States, while critical action and radical ideas are more important in Germany. France is the unexpected case of a country where a period of active cultural and social innovation (around 1968) was followed by a successful attempt to revive old models of social and political action and a strong distrust of all movements social, fruit of a long -permanent influence of the communist party in the French intelligentsia. These factors reinforce in France the traditional subordination of social movements to political forces, expressing the growing political influence of the new middle classes, republicans in the 19th century and socialists in the 20th century.

But overall more optimism can be achieved. Western countries have just emerged from a long period of crisis. Initially, he dominated a pessimistic version of social ideas corresponding to industrial society and a structural Marxism that excluded actors and social movements from his analysis. Then, in the late 1970s, there was a brief period when private affairs completely dominated public life. Soon, new economic and technological developments and the success of liberal ideas favored conservative nationalism or, more profoundly, the interpretation of a new cultural situation by dominant groups. New opposition movements are organizing against this dominant ideology. As at the dawn of industrialization in the 19th century, these movements are now passing through a phase of utopian communism and infantilism. Their new demands are institutionalized very early and very easily in our open political system. Both factors make it difficult to form new social movements, but it would be a mistake not to recognize that the social landscape has already changed. The first observers who spoke of a post-industrial society fifteen years ago were accused, not without reason, of not having made a sufficiently clear distinction between post-industrial society and industrial society. Today it is easier to see that technological change is nothing more than a new stage of industrialization and that new cultural and social demands – in the cultural field – are emerging far from the economic and professional field and are the main basis of post-industrial society.

These transformations of social practices demand a new representation of social life. We need new sociological models or a new type of society


I thought. This thinking must be as different from classical sociology as this line of thinking is from sixteenth- or eighteenth-century politics. The central question of the new way of analyzing society is: when all absolute principles of social organization have disappeared and a more complex civil society has completely separated itself from the State and no longer derives from it a unitary principle, should we abandon the mere idea? of the social system? In other words, should we understand social life only as a flow of changes in which social actors elaborate rational strategies, or resist a flow dominated by a State that ceases to be a political institution and increasingly wages war?

While developing a critique of the idea of ​​society, my analysis asserts that social life has unity. It is a system defined and constituted by the contradictory relationship between dominant and dominated groups to control what I call historicity, that is, the main cultural models through which a community shapes its relationship with its environment. Our "society" no longer has institutional or moral unity, sovereignty or central principle of legitimation. However, it has the unity of a drama.

Many thought that the decline of all forms of transcendence would lead to the triumph of the rational pursuit of interests and the transformation of society into a market. This is the dominant assumption of contemporary historical movements, both those that support such a development and those that oppose it. But the best social thinkers have always recognized that beliefs exist along with interests. When the secularization process triumphs, the world of religious and political passions does not disappear; it becomes social. the gods were replaced by reason and reason by history; now the story is replaced by the subject. Social life can never be reduced to rationality and conflicts of interest. On the contrary, economic behaviors are part of social movements that fight for social control of cultural values, that is, for the transformation of beliefs into forms of social organization.

From industrial to post-industrial society, collective action is no longer explained by the social or economic situation. Classes, defined by a situation, are replaced by social movements and by the action of social categories, defined both by relations of domination and by cultural orientations. This removes notions of human nature and natural law, but it also removes notions of the laws of historical evolution and economic structure. All aspects of social organization result from the conflictual process of self-production of social life.

In the current intellectual situation, the most pressing task is to reintroduce the notions of modernity and development that were so strong


attacked in the last twenty years. The analysis of social movements is associated with the idea that the level of self-production of social life tends to increase, creating new opportunities and new conflicts. The idea of ​​postmodernism, so in vogue today, is only useful if it frees us from the jaded industrial image of modernity. Post-modernity corresponds to a moment when awareness of historicity is lost, when "mannerism" triumphs in art and when intellectuals no longer seem capable of expressing and representing collective and personal experiences. Postmodernism corresponds to a decline in creativity and a crisis of collective action.

It is urgent to analyze new forms of cultural creation, social domination and social movements. It is also urgent to overcome the strange pessimism that foresees the decline of our democracy, even when we are witnessing a rapid expansion and diversification of public opinion and public space, an evolution at least as important as the new threats to our freedoms. For a long time, social thought was dominated by the crises of industrial society, the labor movement and associated optimistic or pessimistic ideologies. Today we lack a general analysis of social changes and the new forms of cultural and social life that are rapidly spreading around us. Sociological analysis cannot fly as late as Minerva's bird. At dawn, when a new day begins and new images and new people appear on the social stage, sociologists need to understand the new drama that is being enacted.


Dialectics of the Modern:
Reenchantment and dedifferentiation as counterprocesses

Edward A. Tiryakian

A generation ago, the sociology of development was a vast body of literature with modernization as its leitmotif. Due to a number of factors, some intellectual and some ideological, adherents of modernization analysis (with a few notable exceptions such as Inkeles [1983]) have abandoned a macrosociological focus. It is not the purpose of this chapter to recall them for a late addition, nor to drive unnecessary nails into the coffin of an outdated theory. However, I would like to reflect a little more deeply on the basic social status that the term "modernization" necessarily implies: namely, "modernity" itself. The concept of modernity never really received its theoretical meaning at the height of modernization analysis. but as fate would have it, it is at the moment of the global socioeconomic crisis (Amin 1982; Brandt Commission 1983; Tiryakian 1984) that the theme of modernity became a fertile heuristic vein of sociological analysis. However, the concept was freed from the optimistic and evolutionary biases of the modernization paradigm, biases that implicitly equated the endpoint of modernization with Camelot-style America and expansion with Pax Americana.

If American sociologists have made the most important contributions to the comparative analysis of modernization (Black 1976), recent major writings on modernism have had as many contributions from one side of the Atlantic as the other (eg, Balandier 1985; Bell 1985; Berger 1973 , 1977; Bernstein 1985; Eisenstadt 1973; Featherstone 1985; Habermas 1981, [1981] 1984; Nelson 1981; Tiryakian 1985a; Touraine 1984). Modernity is therefore a privileged theme for an exchange of theoretical perspectives such as the one in this volume. Having surveyed the burgeoning modernist literature, I propose that the single main background figure is the common denominator for the various approaches to modernism.


The problem of modernity is Max Weber. Weber left us an important legacy by showing us the complexity of the broad socio-historical process that underlies the development of modern Western society. He saw social, even civilizational, changes as real (that is, with objective social consequences) but not as teleological. And it is precisely the ambiguity of the modern situation that Weber so accurately and aptly described that gives him great appeal today.[1]I propose to take two important facets of modernity, derived from Weber and which seem to be accepted as 'given' by many authors, and argue that a comprehensive analysis of large-scale change requires that these two facets be addressed. of change are related.

Weber's legacy is multifaceted and multifaceted, but there are two central and interrelated Weberian themes that are commonly recognized by scholars of different ideological leanings (e.g. differentiation and rationalization. If these are the processes of social change that underpin social order Western modern industrial capitalist (including its bureaucratic forms of social organization), for Weber, the West's competitive advantages in terms of civilization also require a socio-psychological accompanying process not least in the development of Western modernity, a process that includes the emptying gives the magical world (disenchantment), a process that results from the cognitive change associated with this world as a locus of salvific activities (hence a devaluation of the sacraments as access to salvation in the afterlife),ythe replacement of magic by rational calculation. This process is exemplified by the way the scientific method became the accepted method of world domination.

The core of Weber's perspective is expressed in two passages from his famous speech "Science as a Profession." In the first, Weber links contemporary scientific developments to a broader Western process of "intellectualization" or "intellectualist rationalization."

it means that, in principle, mysterious and unpredictable forces do not come into play, but that one can, in principle, master all things mathematically.It means that the world is disenchanted.. It is no longer necessary to resort to magical means to control or implore the spirits.

[1] The ambiguity of our modern condition is this: on the one hand, scientific and technological advances have been rationalized and institutionalized as an integral part of the modern order. On the other hand, the importance of this order for its actors, which is also an essential part of people's motivational disposition to seek and pursue socially recognized goals, is no longer ensured by scientific knowledge. At best, the scientist replaces John Bunyan's "Christian" (inpilgrim's progress) as a modern pilgrim. At worst, the scientist constantly destroys the meaning of the world in the relentless search for empirical certainty as a substitute for the certainty of belief.


The technical and calculation means provide the service. This is above all intellectualization. (Weber 1985, 138, emphasis mine)

The second passage is Weber's concise summary of the present:

The destiny of our time is marked by rationalization and intellectualization and, above all, by the "disenchantment of the world". The ultimate and highest values ​​withdrew from public life into the transcendental realm of the mystical life or into the brotherhood of direct and personal human relationships. (Weber 1958, 155)

The eminent contemporary social theorist Habermas recognizes the heritage of Weber's interpretation. He watches:

Weber's research supports the view that all paths of rationalization that branch out through civilizations... lead in the same direction, that of a disillusioned understanding of the world purged of magical ideas. ([1981] 1985, 196)

Weber judges the rationalization of worldviews by the extent to which magical thinking has been superseded. In the dimension of ethical rationalization, disenchantment is observed, especially in the believer's interaction with God... In the cognitive dimension, the disenchantment of manipulating things and events goes hand in hand with a demystification of knowledge about what it is. In this way, fixation on the surface of concrete phenomena anchored in myth can be replaced by a disinterested orientation to the general laws underlying the phenomena. ([1981] 1985, 212-13)

Although Weber's famous thesis on the religious underpinnings of Western modernity remains controversial (Marshall 1982), including his interpretation of the Puritan doctrine of predestination (Roth 1986), his claims about rationalization, differentiation, and disenchantment as key factors of Western modernity have become become an integral part of converted sociological canons. Indeed, some features of late twentieth-century society can be seen as further accentuating key aspects of modernity that Weber presented so many years ago.

For the sake of brevity, let me select just a few illustrations. In four decades, the computer revolution brought changes as sweeping as the industrial revolution two hundred years ago. Of course, this ongoing revolution is a radical extension of the process of rationalization and world domination through precise calculations. Computer technology allows us to systematically explore microscopic and macroscopic worlds, from cells and genes to planets and galaxies, rapidly changing the boundaries of the living world. Also the continued advancement of life sciences and biotechnology.


Advances are redrawing the frontiers of knowledge about the biochemical bases of life and death. In doing so, the world's disenchantment took a new turn as people increased their empirical knowledge and ability to control reproductive processes. The ability to control and restrict reproduction, leading to changes in morality, and the ability to obtain early information about the fetus contribute to further disenchanting the world by revealing the allure, mystery and fascination of sexuality and gender taking over. This was perhaps the last domain of enchantment. It was also a primitive domain because religious cults universally used fertility rites to harness magical powers.

Finally, we can suggest another area that has become increasingly disillusioned in this century: the area of ​​authority. The disenchantment of authority is part of the secularization process, and as the beginning of this development we can point to the Reformation and the disenchantment of papal authority. The disenchantment of monarchical authority began in England in the 17th century with the regicide of Charles I. This event ended with the view of the monarch as a divine representative who was the personification of magical powers. The Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution further weakened the sacred aura of the monarch, leading to republican regimes or constitutional monarchies as typical underpinnings of Western politics in the 19th century. Monarchical and imperial authority was further distorted during World War I in Europe (the decline of Austria-Hungary and Wilhelmina Germany) and elsewhere (Ottoman Empire, China, etc.). World War II and its aftermath witnessed not only the decline of some residual monarchies (eg in the Balkans) but, more importantly, the decline of colonial authority and the utter disenchantment of the colonial premise of 'assimilation'. In our recent past, political authority in Western democracies has been further disenchanted, both by Watergate and by the broader aspects of political delegitimization associated with this "twilight of authority" (Nisbet 1975).[2]

Weber's fundamental perspective on modernity can be characterized as a post-Enlightenment view of the essential underlying processes of Western social change: it lacks the optimism and some of the assumptions ofphilosophersbut it still contains the core belief that human efforts (scientific, political and economic) can lead, in the not too distant future, to the renewal of human existence without recourse to the transcendent. Weber's thought therefore shares the general liberal orientation

[2] I am not referring here simply to political institutions, but to a number of other institutions in which political authority has lost its pervasive aura, including the nuclear family and educational institutions.


from modern social sciences to modernity (Seidman 1983; Ezrahi 1990).

It is clear that the turbulent events of the last twenty years, plus the global wars and totalitarian regimes that have hit the West hard, have seriously shaken and transformed the liberal outlook. Countercultural youth movements (Yinger 1982; Leventman 1982), anti-nation-state autonomist movements (Tiryakian and Rogowski 1985), and religious fundamentalist movements have suggested to various scholars that the "revolt against modernity" (an identical title used by Lipset [1980] ] in the context of political movements and by Bell [1985] in relation to cultural movements) has deep roots and deserves attention, although secular trends still point to the fulfillment of the promises of the Enlightenment. Again, let me cite Habermas as an example of the heirs of the late-twentieth-century Enlightenment-Weberian perspective. Quoting Bernstein:

Habermas' whole project and intellectual attitude can be described as writing something new.Dialectic of Enlightenment– one that does full justice to the dark side of the legacy of the Enlightenment…but redeems and justifies the hope of freedom, justice and happiness. The project of modernity, the hope of the Enlightenment, is not a bitter illusion... but an unfulfilled practical task that can guide our actions. (1985, p. 31)

Perhaps we should speak better of the current sociological assessment of modernity as pluralistic.[3]The public arena is not so bereft or disillusioned with magic or mysticism (or, more generally,irrational) currents and movements, as the Weberian image of modernity seemed to suggest. Those movements and orientations that could be considered a subclass of Weberrationality of values(Weber 1978, 1:24-26), are seen by some not only as aberrations of modernity, but also as new bearers of meaning for modernity in a time characterized by disenchantment with progress, but also by scientific and technological progress ( Swatos 1983; Balandier 1985, 149-52). In other words, the values ​​of liberalism and their institutionalization in the public and cultural institutions of modern Western societies are no longer recognized as sufficient to define the modern situation; at the same time, the countervalues ​​and counterprocesses that have emerged over the last twenty years are not taken as parameters for a reorganization of modernity.

The recent rethinking of modernity has made an important, if perhaps painful, corrective assessment of our current situation and the

[3] Benjamin Nelson reacted very sensitively to this heterogeneity. His sensitivity is aptly expressed in the title of his posthumous volume:About itstreetsto modernity(1981) (emphasis mine).


Processes of social change that shaped it in the immediate past. However, I believe it necessary to expand the theoretical refinement of the main processes of change in the West and to challenge the assumption that the fate of modernity and the fate of the West are, for all practical purposes, so inextricably linked. . it's the same. My theoretical position is that Western sociology – and here we include the Marxist and liberal traditions together as a general macro-family – is correct when it sees Western civilization as dynamic and powerfully influencing other regions of the world for two years or more. centuries. But the dynamics of change in Western modernity include not only processes of differentiation and disenchantment, but also processes of de-differentiation and re-enchantment. These last two processes should not be seen as deviations in the great evolutionary trajectory of modernity, nor as bland and epiphenomenal, but rather as fundamental to the dialectic of change. They might be called the “counterprocesses” of modernity, similar to Boulding's notion of “antitropical processes” that compensate for the depletion of a system's potential in the process of production (Boulding 1985, 16).

1. Reenchantment

The intellectual view that magic and enchantment have been expelled from the dominant sphere of Western culture has two major periods of modernity in mind. The first is that of the Reformation in Europe, when Protestantism (particularly among the Puritans and radical sects) deprived the world of the magical mystification associated with the Catholic Church (the sacramental system, the cult of saints, belief in miracles, and other characteristics of the Catholic Church). ). popular religion). The second period that can be considered the 'cleansing' of secularization is the 19th century, when empirical science replaced religious versions of world reality with its own accounts.

I argue here that this view oversimplifies the relationship between glamor and Western modernity, arguing that glamor and modernity are essentially incompatible and that advances in modernity necessarily require cognitive and cultural disenchantment. Indeed, since the Enlightenment, the cultural sphere has created a variety of new ways of seeing the world as magical and enchanted. That's what I mean by "reenchantment". Furthermore, I argue that modernist advances in the West have components of re-enchantment, particularly, but not exclusively, in the cultural domain.

An overlooked feature of the "secularization of the European spirit," to use Chadwick's (1979) term, is the "consciousness shift" in Western mentality. I will outline the main aspects of this process and


its manifestations in recent modernity and to postpone a more detailed treatment with documentation on another occasion.

Weber's decisive conclusion about shifting the focus of salvific action to this world is very concise, but requires further theoretical analysis. Change brings with it secularization, but only if we understand by this term that what was previously considered “secular” has come to be seen (not immediately, of course, but over time) with religious significance in itself. The Protestant suppression of church sacraments and holy images, all of which referred to the wonders of the "other world," went hand in hand with the sacralization of the formerly "mundane" human spheres: work (to which Weber naturally paid most attention ). , preaching (the renewed emphasis on the "word" of God rather than the images of God), and, especially in the 19th century, though starting with Luther, the domesticity and sanctity of unity.

This shift in sanctity from the transcendental or supernatural realm, where human action has very little effect or power, to this world where human action has far more control, is one of the most important features of Western modernity. It implies a rejection of the fatalistic attitude that what happens in this world is predetermined, inherent, or follows inexorable laws.[4]Ironically, when the Western mind realized that human action in this world was crucial and free from supernatural oversight, it also became free to see again what this world was somewhere between the wonderful, enchanted, and magical and what it wasn't. In this transformation, beings from another world, space, etc. they were seen in relation to this world. This secularization of magical consciousness has several ramifications that are essential to an appreciation of the process of reenchantment as an important aspect of Western modernity.

Perhaps the most important Western cultural movement of modern times was the Romantic movement. It began somewhere in the second half of the 18th century, and depending on what we consider its central features, we can conservatively say that it ended in the mid-19th century, or take a bolder stance and strike before the novel. I was left

[4] Paulo Freire often refers to this orientation as the "magical level of consciousness" (Freire 1973, 44). The term is suggestive, but in connection with this analysis it is better to think of a "pre-modern" and "modern" magical consciousness. Premodern magical consciousness imagines that the forces that alter the operations of the world are beyond human control, although they can sometimes be invoked by special human agents or through some ritual. Modern magical consciousness denies a transcendent reality, but accepts that the world can be changed (even radically, as in the case of millennial and revolutionary movements) from its natural appearances and operations only by human means.


a strong cultural current since its beginnings. From this latter point of view, romanticism manifested itself for the last time in the counterculture and youth movements of the late 1960s, in which the dominant themes were the emancipation of the self from an oppressive society, the return to nature, and the rejection of industrial society. , the primacy of one's own feelings, attracting bohemia and at the same time seeking a new harmony between people. An earlier major revival of Romanticism was the Surrealist movement, which was the most widespread cultural movement of this century, certainly in painting, poetry, and film (from Buñuel to Monty Python), and which had significant political reach (German 1969). ; Benjamin 1978). ). Regardless of its specific time period, Romanticism had a major impact not only on the arts but also on other cultural fields such as philosophy, religion, and, as Shalin (1986) has convincingly argued, sociology itself.

I have suggested that a basic orientation of Romanticism in its various forms is the rejection of an important facet of modernity: the seemingly cold, dull, impersonal, anonymous, standardized, rationalized, lifeless, and technocratic industrial order. But it's more than a rejection; it is also an orientation that often seeks and finds in the imagination the creative center of human energy, the potential to alter or evoke a different order than the industrial one in question. Romanticism typically places a strong emphasis on emotion, violence and humor, the occult and esoteric as opposed to the obvious and exoteric. The properties of space and time, as well as the properties of objects.noSpace and time can be seen as distinct from the objective space-time matrix of the scientific-industrial order. Romanticism assumes that the scientific-industrial order can be transformed, for example by merging past and future into a new present. Of course, these observations are understood as suggestive characteristics and, given the wide variety of manifestations, they are not a specification of this generality.World visionit is possible in few lines. I would like to point out that romanticism is one of the strongest examples of re-enchantment as a characteristic of modernity.

A reflection of this re-enchantment is the infusion and profusion of fantastic, imaginary, grotesque, mythical themes and a particular fascination with the demonic and 'dark' throughout the 19th century and up to the present. As much of this cultural elaboration has been attributed to earlier times (particularly the Middle Ages), we tend to see premodern Westerners and Western society as permeated by magical consciousness, and modern consciousness emancipated from this cognitive, mythic, and illusory representation of reality. . . However, a brief observation suffices to illustrate the extent to which modern culture is shaped by the fascination with the magical and enchanting. In classical music, from the last Mozart (the operasThe magic flute, Mr.


Juan) by Wagner (Lohengrin, Tristan and IsoldeaRingcycle) and Mahler (The Magic Horn of Youth), including the great ballet classics (Or Lake two Swans, Les Sylphides), there are a huge number of enchanted and magical themes - and even satanic themes (Faustus,"Mephisto Waltz") - which form the human framework for artistic creation. The same goes for poetry and novels, from Blake and Walter Scott to Lautreamont. Alongside this artistic stimulus of the enchanted, the 19th century also witnessed the study of the fabulous and the enchanted, conceived by "people" who lived on the margins of the industrial urban scene. Founded by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm in the first half of the century and modernized by William J. Thoms and later by Paul Sebillot, the collection of folklore and fairy tales became a major effort with widespread appeal that continues today and persists in the development of cultural anthropology and the study of popular culture (Dorson 1978).

Re-enchantment in the form of witchcraft, incidentally, still clings to the same capitalist society that produced such a cultural opposite as romanticism. I refer here to several aspects of cultural nationalism in nineteenth-century Europe that evoked mythical periods of national identity. But I also draw attention to the example of socialism, including that of Marx,[5]current romantic metaphors are not only used in theManifestoThe opening drama "A specter haunts Europe... All the powers of old Europe have entered into a holy alliance to exorcise the specter", but also in the lastfloor plantsis onCapitalin his discussion of the reification of commodity production: “This enchanted and perverted world…. It is an enchanted, perverted, upside-down world... The gross materialism of the economists... mystifies social relations” (Bottomore 1983, 411-12). And the American stock market, the center of capitalism and the industrial order, has been plagued by a phenomenon known as the "triple witching hour" in recent months!

This does not exhaust the theme of re-enchantment as a great counter-process to modernity. Related but different from romance is another important topic I would mention.exoticism. If by exoticism we strictly mean the allure or fascination of the unknown, perhaps even to the point of trying to travel into the unknown or bring the unknown home, exoticism has a very long history in the West. It is closely intertwined with many of the myths, legends and epics of Western culture. However, exoticism retains, as Weber (or Goethe before him) would say, an "elective affinity" with Western modernity. Modern

[5] Seillière's (1907, 1908, 1911, 1918) long-neglected studies of mystical and neo-romantic currents in the ideologies of imperialism, pan-Germanism, and Marxist socialism deserve to be revisited in contemporary context.


Exoticism, beginning with the Romantic fascination with "primitive" nature and its indigenous peoples living in a state of goodness, has played crucial psychological and political roles in the dynamics of change in Western society.

Psychologically, the magic of the exotic has at least two important consequences for the Western mind. First, it provided an important balance to the landscape, which was turned into a vast sea of ​​gray and black by the industrial revolution as a result of industrial exhaust gases. Industrialization led to an objective "aging" of the West, particularly in the heart of northern Europe. A key feature of exoticism is the emphasis on bright colors, "colorful" scenes and "local colors". Southern Europe, on the periphery of industrial Europe, was an early favorite setting for representations of the exotic (as was North America and its Native Americans). The background of the exotic quickly crossed the Mediterranean, leaving it at the beginning of the 19th century. North Africa and the Islamic world became important vehicles for western exotic representation. From there, the exotic fantasy spread to other places: sub-Saharan Africa, the Pacific islands and the Asian continent. In particular, nineteenth-century exoticism found the »tropics« (that is, the area between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn) as its setting par excellence. The more industrialization rationalized space and nature in the West, the more exoticism offered Westerners a complementary environment: nature and people "in its raw state".

Second, the exoticism of the Western mind also provided an important psychological outlet for effective living, which was increasingly sublimated and inhibited with the rise of the "Victorian ethos": an ethos of sobriety and sober dress that referred to bodily functions. in particular , and sexuality, taboo. Exotic places and their native peoples, seen as living by very different rules of the game (as well as lower social classes, especially those of different ethnicity from the elite and new middle class), became vehicles outside the horizon of civilization through which the erotic could be displayed. The marriage of the exotic and the erotic is vividly evident in depictions (paintings, novels, operas) of "native women" whose naked bodies and passionate natures can be reliably (or not) enjoyed vicariously. Another example of this connection are colonial-era postage stamps (for example, those issued from the Third Republic through World War II) that depicted the "Black Eve" with bare breasts.

Exoticism not only had these two psychological functions; it also had economic and political functions. Economically, Europe developed a desire for exotic products in the mid-19th century, which contributed to the formation of a consumer society. Baudelaire drew attention in 1848 when he described "pepper, English gunpowder and saffron,


Colonial stuff, exotic asparagus, anything they liked, even musk and incense", and in 1850 Ferdinand Hediard brought the Parisian bourgeoisie home with exotic fruits.Spice and Cologne Counters:

Hediard was the first to bring tropical fruits and vegetables with strange names like guavas, mangoes, loquats and papayas... Oranges, tangerines and grapefruits, then a luxury, gradually appeared on the tables of the French middle class. French expansion into Tunisia, Congo and Indochina helped Hediard. In 1889, exoticism was all the rage in Paris. (Dorsey 1986)

Taking the exotic west is one side of the business coin; taking westerners to the exotic is the other. I am thinking here of the development of the tourism industry. It first started in the European periphery (Scotland, Spain, Italy, even the south of France) in the 19th century and later spread to all parts of the world, especially those subject to exotic themes that opposed the industrial environment. , themes such as "colorful natives", "burdened sky" and "untouched nature". However, "tourismization" has often been about adapting an environment to meet expectations of the exotic by staging events (dances, parties, even sexual activity) that ostensibly embody that environment for the benefit of tourists. Tourists are thus more protected from the real daily life of the indigenous population.

Equally significant is the political dimension of exoticism. The allure and allure of exotic lands was central to the exploration and subsequent colonization of overseas territories from the early 19th century until the First World War. Even after World War I, colonial empires were given significant legitimacy and justification due to their exotic appeal, which was regularly showcased to Western audiences through "colonial expositions". Exotic images not only emphasized the attraction of foreign, strange and "colorful" countries and peoples, but also tacitly emphasized the need to connect them with close-knit Western societies (read in the appendix, give eternal trust, etc.). for a civilization of progress. Such images occasionally suggested the need to seek out and rescue "lost" Westerners, such as the mythical Prester John or the not-so-mythical David Livingstone in the case of Africa, and as the searches progressed, the area to be explored fell under the political sphere. .Western influence. Once under Western sovereignty, the exotic aura that hung over colonies, or more generally non-Westerns, served to legitimize Western dominance and prevent "exotic" non-Westerns from being taken seriously. Said's (1978) important study documents in detail the pervasive functions of "Orientalism" as Western categorization and cultural dominator.


from the Middle East and Asia. Curtin's earlier study (1964) provides supplementary material on sub-Saharan Africa.

If re-enchantment is, as I claim, a dialectical aspect of western modernity, are there manifestations of the exotic today, after the decolonization of previous empires? I would suggest that this is certainly the case, but that the exotic scene has changed. Instead of alien continents inhabited by strange creatures (considered a mix of goodness and barbarism), outer space and alien beings are now the focus of the exotic. While decolonization implied a certain “disenchantment” of the world (in the sense that the veils that the West imposed on the colonies were removed), reenchantment was renewed in popular science fiction culture, which had great appeal to the public. era. stretched from Jules Verne and H.G. Wells to "Star Trek",ET,it's the same. (For a sociological account of science fiction, see Bainbridge 1986.) As I noted in an earlier wave of exoticism, spatial exoticism not only has psychological and economic functions (e.g., the production of important consumer goods in a consumer society). . , but it also has similar political functions to legitimize huge spending on space exploration, colonization and military defense (as in the case of the Strategic Defense Initiative, where the fiction of an impenetrable defensive shield has cost billions of dollars). In any case, modern science fiction illustrates that advances in science and technology, such an important part of the rationalization process,yAdvances in the realm of the imaginary are dialectically linked.

Though this does not complete the description of forms of reenchantment in modern society (a fuller treatment would consider, for example, the economic and political consequences of cultural nostalgia, especially when past enchantments hold up for successive decades). it is time for the second great counter-process of modernity.

2. De-differentiation

Discussion of the counterprocess of dedifferentiation is shorter than that of disenchantment, not because of its relative importance, but because I have recently dealt with the former in more detail (1985b). Since de-differentiation has been treated fully or negatively, I illustrate the importance of this process considering Western modernity in general.

Obviously, the legal-rational power structures of modernity and its industrial-technological order are characterized by a high degree of functional differentiation. As the implicit normative standard of modernity,


this was contained in one of Parsons' "standard variables", namely "specificity versus diffusivity" (specificity being the pole of modernity). More generally, dedifferentiation has been seen as a pathological aspect of social evolution rather than as a regressive process that results in the reversal of rationalization and differentiation. This, for example, was the tenor of Parsons' discussion of social movements committed to aethical attitude,movements as diverse as the radical religious movements of the Reformation or the student movements of the 1960s (Tiryakian 1985b).

For a more balanced perspective on the relationship between de-differentiation and modernity, it is crucial to take into account, as Rueschemeyer (1986) has pointed out, that any division of labor implies a distribution of power. Ideally, the evolution of the structural differentiation of a social system allows for greater adaptation to its environment and greater efficiency as its components work interactively. But social systems do not function in a power vacuum. Therefore, unless Plato's concept of meritocracy, as described inin the republic,Implemented in the form of a universal testing system to rationally assign individuals to differentiated spaces, the differentiation process will tend to assume an increasingly hierarchical character, with more differentiated subunits having less responsibility and less control. This means that unit members at lower levels are less self-identified and less committed to the system's goals, and there can be greater passivity and apathy even as system officials resort to Platonic myths and rituals. Thus, the process of differentiation can produce pathologies (which Durkheim analyzed in partThe division of labor in society) and by itself is not a guarantee of integration.

Indeed, a hierarchical and differentiated social system can exhibit growth, integration, and economic efficiency that can serve as measures of success. However, if large groups of actors are de facto or de jure excluded from responsible action, the system will tend not to function optimally. Furthermore, a change of environment may pose a challenge to the social system in question, which it is unable to respond to due to its current mode of stratification and differentiation.

Dedifferentiation as a counterprocess involves restoring an entity's potentiality to an earlier stage of development that was characterized by greater homogeneity among member entities. It is a process of regeneration and rejuvenation of structures; It is also a process whereby member units renew their commitment and participation in the system as a whole. This process tends to be more condensed and intense than differentiation.

Rueschemeyer (1986, pp. 141-69) has pointed out that several features of dedifferentiation in modern societies are notable: their bundle of


The rights and duties that underlie moral individualism, its tension with the fragmentation and routinization of roles, its contribution to the integration of complex institutional patterns, etc. The point is not that de-differentiation is an atavism of modernity, but rather that it is a necessary complement to differentiation, in part because it provides for the social mobilization of actors. To the extent that the democratic impulse is one of the main directions of Western modernity, the struggle for autonomy and betterment for all people within and between societies will periodically find expression in forms of de-differentiation that are dialectically opposed to the trends of differentiation.

Historically, I would point to the great social revolutions of modern times, from the French Revolution to the Sexual Revolution, which exemplify dedifferentiation. The same applies to the great nationalist movements of the 19th and 20th centuries. In these and other cases, actors and groups of actors who want to emancipate themselves from a differentiated system invoke modern values ​​of egalitarianism, freedom and autonomy. As differentiation is often based on ethnic segmentation, those in power and sharing the work are seen as either too odd or too distant. De-differentiation implies a de-differentiation of social roles and social space, while differentiation tends to assign specific roles to some individuals and to locate and keep them within a specific boundary of social space. This general constraint (which, from the point of view of the elites of a differentiated system, is a rational allocation of resources) is in sharp tension with modern values ​​that emphasize people's freedom of movement and self-expression (whether as individuals or as individuals). ). as groups).

3. Conclusion

In this chapter, modernity has been discussed in terms of two main processes that manifested themselves in various ways throughout Western social change. Reenchantment and dedifferentiation run counter to rationalization as the master process of Western modernity, but are analytically and empirically necessary to understand modernity “in all its states,” to borrow an expression from Balandier (1985). I argue that modernity must be approached dialectically, not unidimensionally, and that a focus on counterprocesses is necessary to arrive at a more adequate theoretical understanding of the dynamics of modernity.[6]

Consideration of counter-processes is also necessary for further

[6] Referring to Parsonian systems analysis (Parsons 1978, 352–433), I would suggest that the process of de-differentiation is one that emphasizes or draws attention toyou(integration) andeuCells (dormant), with foreground differentiationAN(adaptation) andGRAMSCells (goal-directed) action systems.


general interpretation of the modern "human condition" (Parsons 1978). If rationalization, differentiation, and secularization are interrelated features of the dynamics of change, they are not simply features that produced many of the benefits embodied in the "promise of the Enlightenment," i. h the promise of the general emancipation of man through human practice. They also gave rise to new forms of hierarchical control, depersonalization and homogenization of the physical and social environment. These characteristics could, without counterweight, lead modernity to the stasis envisioned by Weber's apt metaphor of the "iron cage" or, even more drastically, to that envisioned by Orwell. In fact, re-enchantment and de-differentiation, in their multiple forms, have served to renew and regenerate the Western social system, either through social movements that challenge existing patterns of structural differentiation, or through imaginative movements that challenge the finitude of reality. material and have thus contributed to the ongoing reconstruction.


Amin, Samir, Giovanni Arrighi, André Gunder Frank and Immanuel Wallerstein. one thousand nine hundred and eighty-twoDynamics of the global crisis. Nova York: Monthly Review Press.

Bainbridge, Willian Sims. fiction dimensions. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

BALANDER, Georges. 1985.The deviation: power and modernity. Paris: Fayard.

Bel, Daniel. 1985. The Revolt Against Modernity.the public interest81 (Herbst): 42–63.

Benjamin, Walter. 1978. On review left108 (March-April): 47-56.

Berger, Peter L. 1973.The homeless spirit: modernization and awareness. Nova York: Random House

Berger, Peter L. 1977.face modernity. New York: Essential Books.

Bernstein, Richard J., editor 1985.Habermas and the modern age. Cambridge: MIT Press.

Schwarz, Cyril E., editor 1976.comparative modernization. Nova York: Free Press.

Bottomore, Tom, Hrsg. 1983.A dictionary of Marxist thought. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Boulder, Kenneth. 1985The world as a total system.. London: Sage.

Brandt Commission. 1983.Common crisis: North-South cooperation to rebuild the world.

Chadwick, Owen. 1979.The secularization of the European spirit in the 19th century. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Curtin, Felipe D. 1964. See MoreThe image of Africa: British thought and action, 1780-1850. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press.

Dorsey, Hebe. 1986. In the heart of Paris, sanctuaries of good food.New York Times,Travel Section, 8/3/19.

Dorson, Richard M., Hrsg. 1978.Folklore not modern world. . . . The Hague: Sheep.

Eisenstadt, S.N. 1973.Tradition, change and modernity. Nova York: Willey.


Ezrahi, the child. nineteen ninetyThe Descent of Icarus: Science and the Transformation of Contemporary Democracy. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Featherstone, Mike, Hrsg. 1985.Culture and society theory2, no. 3 (special edition,The Fate of Modernity).

Freire, Paul. 1973.Critical awareness education.. Nova York: Seabury.

Deutschmann, Herbert S. 1969.The Surrealist Revolution in France. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.

Habermas, Jurgen. 1981. "Modern vs. Postmodern."new german review22 (Winter): 3–14.

Habermas, Jurgen. [1981] 1985.the theory of communicative action. vol. 1,Reason and rationalization of society. Boston: Beacon Press.

Inkeles, Alex. 1983.Exploring individual modernity. Nova York: Columbia University Press.

Leventman, Seymour, Hrsg. one thousand nine hundred and eighty-two.Counterculture and social transformation. Springfield, Illinois: Charles C. Thomas.

Lipstick, Seymour Martin. 1980. The Revolt Against Modernity. Paper presented at the Modernization vs. Traditional Values, June 22nd to 24th. Oct., Carnegie Center for Transnational Studies, Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y. Revised version published as "The New Fundamentalism".society20 (Nov-Dec 1982): 40-58.

Luhmann, Niklas. one thousand nine hundred and eighty-two.The differentiation of society.. Nova York: Columbia University Press.

Marshall, Gordon. one thousand nine hundred and eighty-twoIn search of the spirit of capitalism. Nova York: Columbia University Press.

Nelson, Benjamin. 1981.Towards Modernity: Consciousness, Science and Civilizations. ed. Toby E. Huff. Totowa, Nova Jersey: Rowman e Littlefield.

It jumped, Robert. 1975.dawn of authority. Nova York: Oxford.

Parsons, Talcott. 1978.Action theory and the human condition. Nova York: Free Press.

ROTH, Gunther. 1986. Review ofThe Heavenly Contract: Ideology and Organization in Pre-Revolutionary Puritanism,by David Zaret.contemporary sociology15 (July): 550–53.

Rueschemeyer, Dietrich. 1986power and division of labor. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

Disse, Edward W. 1978.Orientalism. Nova York: Pantheon.

Seidman, Steven. 1983. "Modernism, Meaning and Cultural Pessimism in Max Weber."Sociological Analysis44 (Winter): 267–78.

SEILLIER, Ernest. 1907democratic imperialism. Paris: Plon.

SEILLIER, Ernest. 1908Romantic Evil: An Essay on Irrational Imperialism. Paris: Plon.

SEILLIER, Ernest. 1911The Mystics of Neo-Romanticism. Paris: Plon.

SEILLIER, Ernest. 1918The mystical danger in the inspiration of contemporary democracies. Paris: Die Renaissance des Buches.

Shalin, Dmitri N. 1986. Romanticism and the rise of sociological investigation53 (primavera): 77–123.

Swatos, William H., Jr. 1983. Enchantment and Disenchantment in Modernity: The Meaning of "Religion" as a Sociological Category.Sociological Analysis44 (Winter): 321–38.


Tilly, Karl. 1984.Big structures, big processes, big comparisons. New York: Russell-Sage Foundation.

Tiryakian, Edward A., Hrsg. 1984.The global crisis: sociological analyzes and responses. Leiden: EJ Brill.

Tiryakian, Edward A., editor 1985a. "The Changing Centers of Modernity". At theComparative Social Dynamics: Essays in Honor of S. N. Eisenstadt,edited by E. Cohen, M. Lissak, and U. Almagor, 131–147. Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press.

Tiryakian, Edward A., editor 1985b. "On the meaning of dedifferentiation". At theMacrosociological Theory: Perspectives on Sociological Theory,Ed. S.N. Eisenstadt and H.J. Helle, 1:118-34. Beverly Hills, California: Sabio.

Tiryakian, Edward A. and Ronald Rogowski, eds.New nationalisms of the developed West. Londres: Allen e Unwin.

Turena, Alain. 1984.the actor's return. Paris: Fayard.

Weber, Max 1958. "Science as a Vocation." At theFrom Max Weber: Essays on Sociology,Ed. Hans Gerth e C. W. Mills, 129–56. Nova York: Oxford University Press, Galaxy Books.

Weber, max. 1978.economy and society. Ed. 2 vols. Gunther Roth e Claus Wittich. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Yinger, J. Milton. one thousand nine hundred and eighty-two.Countercultures: the promise and danger of a world turned inside out. Nova York: Free Press.



Modernity and attribution

Hans Haferkamp

1. Patterns of development in the modern era

Reflecting on the character of modern society suggests that there are two starting points that are not particularly viable. The first is Weber's description of Western rationalism (Weber 1920); the second is Parson's "relatively optimistic" description of modern society ([1971] 1972, 179), in which he predicts that society would prosper for another century or two. Modern societies in northwest Europe, the United States, Canada and Japan are not only characterized by processes of maturation; they also bear witness to counter-developments (foreseen by Marx) and superseded developments, which obscure the picture of a continuing upward trend.

These observations are not new. Antinomies and cases of hypertrophy have always occupied a central place among the great themes of sociology. However, the insistence on the special structural characteristics of "advanced industrial societies"—characteristics that include the rise of capitalism, democracy, the market economy, and prosperity—tends to endure (cf. Zapf 1983, 294). An example of this tendency is Dieter Senghaas (1982), who addresses neither the autumn of modernism nor the beginning of postmodernism; on the contrary, his analysis is characteristic of European optimism.big bourgeoisieat the turn of the century, the United States at mid-century, and Japan today.

Why has this affirmative view of modern social change persisted? As modern theory has moved away from philosophy and taken on a more empirical character, theorists have tended to stick to positive "data," concluding that a comparison of past and present data indicates continuing progress. This type of analysis reinforces the optimistic diagnosis. But this approach is somewhat strange, because a comparison of the past and


it should also show notable cases of hypertrophy and counterdevelopment. Indeed, the determination of counterdevelopments and transgressions was left to social scientists of a philosophical bent (von Marx and Engels [1848] 1964), novelists such as Baudelaire (1925), and occasionally sociologists such as Weber, who praised the rational but also saw counter developments. Today, some theorists, especially representatives of the Frankfurt School and social thinkers such as Arnold Gehlen, see decay and decay everywhere and emphasize the decline of civilization in modern societies. But these negative characterizations can also hurt your sense of proportion.

Bendix (1971) elaborated the problems of Western European rationalism from a realist perspective. He describes the loss of decades of the West's sense of superiority. He also states that "the use of nuclear energy marks the beginning of a scientific and technical development which for the first time in the consciousness of many people calls into question the 350-year-old equation between knowledge and progress" (179, 13). . Following Bendix's approach, we find that development, overdevelopment, and counterdevelopment unfold as follows:

1. The development of diverse resources to guarantee survival and a better life has an opposite side, which manifests itself particularly in the profound environmental damage it entails. Furthermore, contrary developments are observed in the underutilization of potential resources (eg youth, women, elderly, foreign labor force). One of the questions that arises in relation to the use of resources is the pattern of social distribution of resources and rewards. Evidence in modern societies suggests that these resources and rewards balance each other out. For example, educational resources are more concentrated in the lower social classes.

2. All modern societies have an increasing level of production of goods and services. At the same time, however, counter-developments are also noticeable. The continued application of technology creates new threats to health and new forms of oppression. Such developments raised questions about the meaning and purpose of social development.

3. Modern societies also show an increase in power and authority relations. Both an increasing number of decision makers and increasing political participation are evident (Baudelaire, 1925). Middle and lower class participation in Western European societies ranges from a strong interest in politics to a high turnout in elections.


Citizens protest elections. Such moves often result in the abandonment of government proposals, and there has been a form of power diffusion around decisions about the use of nuclear energy and destructive weapons.

4. Wages have risen, as the terms "abundance" and "affluent society" suggest. Rewards are distributed in such a way as to provide a high level of well-being for almost all actors, and there are minimum standards of economic provision for all stages of the life cycle. Although measures of well-being also tend to redistribute wealth downwards, a residue of poverty remains in all modern societies (Lockwood 1985).

5. Knowledge of society itself has expanded, often at the expense of traditional religious interpretations. However, it is often impossible to apply this knowledge to the planning process, as national planning efforts are hampered by international events over which planners have little or no control.

6. Another characteristic of modern societies is the high individualism and desire for self-realization of its citizens. Citizens reject control from above or from any other part of the political spectrum. However, heightened individualism can spill over into the legitimacy of deviance and delinquency, leading to increased suicide rates and creating fears about future life prospects. Individualism goes hand in hand with the loss of community spirit and the loneliness of the masses.

Some of the developments, overdevelopments, and counterdevelopments mentioned here happen very quickly, others very slowly. Modernity is synonymous with the constant flow of new elements that, at different speeds, contradict established arrangements.

Significant distinctions can be made between modern and other societies based on six dimensions: (1) greater resource mobilization, (2) greater levels of positive effort, (3) power relations, (4) greater levels of social welfare. consumer, (5) increased prevalence of self-reflection, and (6) increased individualism. The increasing downward distribution of each of these dimensions also distinguishes modern societies from others. And, of course, there are also differences between modern societies on these six dimensions. But let's limit our comparison to the United States and West Germany. We can make the following observations:

1. Resource mobilization is well advanced in both societies. However, important resources are idle, both in terms of manpower potential and in the area of ​​education and training. Although West Germany has a high level of achievement and education


The proportion of willing actors who cannot exert themselves is currently higher than in the United States, according to statistics on unemployment and failing students. The social underclass in West Germany is still underrepresented in universities and other colleges compared to the US.

2. The level of positive effort is high in both societies, but its downward distribution is more pronounced in West Germany, typified by the "working German" image, than in the United States. A particularly advanced phenomenon in West Germany is that performance problems are identified at the highest level. More and more West German actors are rejecting the old equation "level of performance equals level of well-being" (cf. Ronge 1975; Kitschelt 1985).

3. Power is increasingly diffused in both societies. However, the downward distribution of power is most pronounced in West Germany. There, a greater degree of political participation was achieved and each time the Workers' Party won a government mandate, there were changes in power. In the United States, established governing authority has most effectively resisted influences from below.

4. In West Germany, wages are more evenly distributed and the distribution of assets is less skewed than in the United States.

5. The capacity for self-reflection and self-management of relationships is distributed more downwards in the United States than in West Germany.

6. Likewise, in the United States, individualization is stronger and the trend is accelerating. American freedom of movement is not yet recognizable in West Germany.

This mixed picture shows that it is impossible to identify any one of these nations so positively.amore modernized.

2. Change through action

How can developments in modern society be explained? Why is change so fast and intense on the one hand and so slow on the other? How can events of different magnitudes be related to each other?

To answer these questions correctly, it is necessary to have some kind of conceptualization of permanent change and not simply try to explain current arrangements as extensions of past trends. Everything is in constant flux.


The conceptualization of social change must also take into account that different structures do not simply influence independently; They also influenceeEach other. Thus, inequality in the distribution of resources and power in the economic sphere is neutralized by political institutions such as universal suffrage, social guarantee systems and public services, so that civil society and capitalism promote each other (Marshall [ 1949] 1977) .

Furthermore, learning effects also occur in the process of social change. Rapid developments in one society serve as models for changes in other societies. This statement applies both to positive developments and pathologies such as refusal to work and protest movements.

Change, then, means that modified or even new actions or behaviors create a whole series of ramifications, not just repetitions of the past.

Microsocial and macrosocial changes occur. Microsocial change is the modification of actions or the initiation of new actions by a small number of actors who know each other. Macrosocial change implies changing actions or the emergence of new sets of actions that involve many actors who do not know each other. Changes at the macrosocial level are often traced back to changes at the microsocial level: a new or modified action or behavior is always generated or discovered in elemental action contexts and develops as a habit by individual actors in small groups (relation 1 of model 1). Actors try to transfer the action or behavior to other groups, or do the same (relation 2 of model 1).

For example, a new attitude toward family size, a new sexual behavior, or a new medical discovery may be adopted first by a small number of actors before being modeled for others or gradually appreciated by others and then consciously imitated. Social change can also be stimulated when new personalities take on key stakeholder roles, for example, new party leaders and presidents, innovative entrepreneurs and enterprising union leaders, religious leaders delivering a 'message', prolific scientists or imaginative legislators. Innovation-oriented individuals and elites tend to rise up and initiate social change, especially in times of crisis (Nisbet and Perrin 1970, 320).

Changes are initiated by personalities, significant actors or very small groups who exploit elements of the current social and material situation. If key stakeholders are to implement change, many others need to buy into it and embed it into everyday actions and behaviors. It must be transferable and must allow


Social change and modernity (7)

model 1
Actors and social change

opportunity for others to get used to. Therefore, the following distinctions can be made between actors:

1. Micro-actors that introduce changes, but act or behave in isolation and are unable to transmit the changes to others or do not initiate adaptation processes.

2. Micro-actors that interact with others in the crowd and generate change or adaptation.

3. Macro actors who address large crowds or whose behavior is relevant to them, but whose actions are not accepted or whose behavior has no effect.

4. Macro actors who assert themselves in transfer and adaptation processes.

The massive action or behavior -or its rejection- (relation 3 of model 1) affects the position of micro and macro actors that produce innovations (relation 4 of model 1). Mass acceptance of new actions and behaviors initially strengthens the position of innovators. The first effect is building prestige. Soon, however, the actors thus selected become relatively weaker as the accepting masses improve their living conditions by adopting the new action or behavior. Not much has changed for the original innovators. They have already put these actions and behaviors into practice and cannot continue to enjoy the gratitude of the welcoming masses. These relationships are shown in Model 1.

Parsons' distinction between changeinsidesystem and changeVonthe system (1951, 480) is nothing more than a relative distinction. The mass of micro-actors within an action context can change as much as the successful macro-actors outside: in the end, a new action context emerges anyway. The


The classic example of the first case is the American Revolution. At first, none of the big players and not even a small group had any idea of ​​the course of action that would later emerge in North America. But gradually the actors and groups moved away from British colony status: "I never heard of a conversation by anyone, drunk or sober, the slightest expression of a desire to part or indication that something was wrong." for the benefit of the United States." would" (Benjamin Franklin, quoted in Rossiter 1956, 41).

In modern societies, as anywhere, the main concern is a safe and better life, which means first surviving and then living well. However, this can only be achieved if a new level of resource mobilization is achieved in each case. Those who want to survive or improve their standard of living need the help and cooperation of other actors. These other actors can be activated as resource bearers (relationships 1 and 2 in Model 2) to provide additional positive performance when rewards are promised or punishments are threatened. As rewards are more motivating than punishments to achieve desired positive performance, elites substitute rewards for punishments as the production of goods and services increases (Haferkamp 1983).

Referring to Model 2, increasing resource potential (Relation 3) has the unintended consequence that owners of new resources become more important than owners of old ones (Relation 4). This means that new resource holders can generate more positive effort compared to other large micro and macro actors (ratios 5-7) and that the relative weights of positive effort change (ratios 8-9). But now new entrepreneurs must be given some power so that power is eventually shared with them. This shared power refers to the distribution of rewards (relationships 15-19) and the possibility of self-direction (relationships 20-24) and individualization (relationships 25-29).

Growth trends and downward distribution are unintended consequences of the resource mobilization that occurs in all stratified societies. If this path is not followed and the resources of the lower social classes are not used, societies will be below their potential. If no effort is made to raise the power level of the masses, less power will be produced than is possible. And when power is not shared and contexts are controlled not by raising rewards but by using punishment, those at the top undermine the very contexts they seek to profit from. In this context, we think of historical examples of the fall of pharaonic empires (cf. Wittfogel 1938) and the main problems of socialist societies today (cf. Senghaas 1982, 277).


Social change and modernity (8)

model 2
Players, growth and distribution down


The arguments formulated so far serve to explain many different developments. Resources are exploited much more in modern societies than anywhere else. This had many consequences, the most immediate being the increased role played by employers. It is possible to continue along these lines and explain many differences between modern and non-modern societies. But let's move on to the end of the chain of influence, extreme individualization. It is particularly advanced in the United States and less developed in Japan; Western Europe, including West Germany, is in the middle. Obviously, the degree of individualization does not correlate with resource mobilization, as there are no significant differences between the United States and the Federal Republic of Germany in this respect, and Japan is characterized by a particularly high degree of mobilization.

Even among the intermediate links in Model 2's causal chains, the combination does not persist as expected. For example, could it be said that in the United States, with so many subcultures, we also find the highest level of political participation anywhere? Or that in West Germany, with its sharp leveling of skills, we find job performance at the lowest level that would be appropriate under such conditions? And how to explain the appearance of counterevolutions and pathologies? Do we think that the production of toxins and pollution is greater where more resources have been mobilized? Do minorities have particularly strong blocking power where performance orientation diffusion is particularly advanced? Why aren't performance features being used? Why are there power monopolies that are not based on adequate performance? To understand and interpret the development of modernity, it is necessary to add something more than simple resource mobilization and its consequences to our model of actors and interaction efforts. I believe two additional factors are essential:

1. Contractual action that makes everything, including attribution, subject to negotiation.

2. Values ​​of radical equality.

Both factors are typical of modern societies, although different from one society to another, and they are the most important elements of action in these societies. Model 3 shows the influence of these two factors on the shift to a modern individualistic society. This model shows the complex relationship between the fundamental processes of change and the characteristics of modernity. Macro-actors, together with micro-actors endowed with initiative, assign others a place in the status hierarchy (relation 3 in model 3), and their attribution is either accepted or rejected (relation 31). with great players


Social change and modernity (9)

model 3
Actors, growth, top-down distribution, assignment negotiations, and equality values


interacting with the accepting masses, recognized attributions arise (relations 32-33). These assignments then affect the various types of distributions (relations 34-39). Actors also create new values ​​(relation 40) that are either internalized or rejected by the crowd (relation 41). This interaction, in turn, leads to a recognized value system (relationships 42-43), which also influences all distributions (relationships 44-49).

In the following section, I focus on contractual action in relation to the attribution of positive effort, how this trend has spread, and how it affects processes of social change that lead to modern societies (Relations 30-39).

3. Execution of the contract and assignment

The two most important processes in the "transition from a simple/primitive social organization to a complex/differentiated [organization] are... (1) the increasing differentiation and specialization of social functions and (2) the replacement of principles of attribution by principles of of performance for social organizations" (Strasser and Randall 1981, 74). I assume in Model 3 that the first process exists, as evidenced by the chain of relationships leading from resource mobilization to individualism, but I have not established that the second process actually occurs and so I leave that to my models.

In a shift from attribution to achievement principles, sociologists generally hold that there are few characteristics that are ascribed only to particular actors. In particular, status is no longer simply assigned to a person or group, but is acquired through skill and measurable success in specific activities. An important implication is that status in the family system, or any other assigned status, plays a diminishing role compared to status acquired through objective achievement, usually based on occupation.

I challenge this dichotomy and make the following alternative claim. Modernizing societies emphasize greater achievement and indeed more positive efforts are being made. So performance is really an important part of modern societies. But even in modern societies there are more assignments. The paradoxical result is that both work betterymore attributions arise, and this achievement is attributed in a significant measure.

Achievement or positive effort means solving life's problems, whether one's own or others', or at least contributing to solving them. This achievement or effort is not just attributed, but can usually be measured. To avoid building a wrong one-sided attribution theory, the following observations can be made. The actions performed by the actors can then be distinguished


whether these actions contribute to solving life's fundamental problems, such as whether people are alive or dead, healthy or sick, hungry or well-fed, trapped or free. These direct differentiations are fundamental life problems that constantly cry out for a solution, even in modern societies (cf. Haferkamp 1991, 311). Although more life problems can be defined and needs shaped and manipulated (Hondrich 1973, 60), these activities cannot be undertaken until the basic problems are resolved. Even those in power are unable to define all of life's problems or needs in a way that gives them a greater advantage in labeling life's basic problems as other people's problems that they can solve for themselves.

Interactions, groups and contexts of action in modern societies can not only persist or evolve, but also decay or self-destruct. Therefore, giving or generating a positive effort has the opposite of causing harm, which occurs whenever the solution of life's problems is impeded or impaired. Like performance, damage is objectively measurable and subjectively attributable. Even in modern societies, achievements or harm done by actors in everyday life can be identified through observation. Analysts are able to understand such processes that, if successful, can affect the success of an entrepreneur in the market, the performance of an employee, the good handling of administrative procedures or the discovery of new knowledge by an academic ( Bolte 1979, 22). These are all achievements that can be measured objectively.

When outputs are generated by multiple actors, measuring production levels becomes more complicated. But even in these cases it is possible to make objective observations. Insurers are constantly improving their systems for assessing the risks of the actions of organizations and companies. Banks develop lending guidelines and assess borrowers' ability to perform and grow in broad action contexts. These examples include estimates of likely performance. And at a higher level, analysts measure the economic growth and progress of entire societies (Senghaas 1982, 136-37). To complete the picture, it is also possible to determine the extent of damage and destruction. Measurements can range from assessments of bodily harm by medical experts to measurements of the decline and demise of entire societies (cf. Wittfogel 1938).

These observations do not exclude changes in measured values. These changes are particularly evident in the changing perception of nuclear power in modern societies in the mid-1980s. What was long considered a remarkable achievement is now at risk.


they become lighter, correspondingly reduced. Furthermore, objective measurement and evaluation is not impossible due to the fact that actors sometimes take a long time to realize that something is sustaining or destroying life.

These clarifications about the possibility of identifying benefits are necessary in order not to give the impression in the argument that follows that the development of benefits or claims is based only on attributions.

Fulfillment and harm can be measured objectively and attributed subjectively at the same time, because actors treat fulfillment and harm in the same way as other elements of their lifeworld. These elements are not just enacted by actors within their consciousness -with more or less success- but are defined from the outset, as each actor's situation is defined.

Attribution means that an actor assigns certain properties to other actors, regardless of whether those other actors actually have those properties. In other words, actors put labels on other actors. A vivid example of this is the attributed ability to practice sorcery or perform divine action. These are extreme cases where, in the absence of objective evidence, individuals are credited with harm leading to illness or death or achievements leading to healing. However, attributions can be examined to determine whether or not the attribution is based on performance.

Of course, false allegations - a false accusation of murder (see Becker 1963, 20) or a false accusation of paternity - can occur, but they are the exception, not the rule. It is a mistake to elevate everyday exceptions or sophisms raised by analysts to the level of general rules. Since its inception, science has been driven by the desire to be able to describe and explain reality more fully and correctly than the actors in their living environments. To deny this to science is to fall behind Comte, let alone the sociologists who followed him. Durkheim, Weber, Simmel and Mead have little understanding of the skepticism widespread in sociology today about the possibility of making claims that go beyond knowledge of the lifeworld.

Of course, it must be admitted that in many cases there are as clear reference points as life and death, health and illness. On the contrary, social relations are complex and it is absolutely impossible to give a completely correct and true picture of this complexity. However, it is possible to objectively measure individual or partial performance. However, adding these measures is a difficult and sometimes extraordinarily complex process. Furthermore, the levels of


rapidly reaching a complexity that no human consciousness can imagine, even in aggregate terms. Actors get around this difficulty by reducing complexity through attributions. Next, problems are selected and simplified. Some aspects deserve special attention. others are generalized, and this mixture is understood as a judgment about reality (cf. Schutz 1964-67). But even these attributions retain a reference to reality, because the aspects subject to representation, selection, overemphasis or generalization are, in fact, initially characteristics of reality.

In most cases, attributions are unintentional. But a distorted attribution can also be presented consciously. Actors consciously exaggerated their earnings and deliberately underestimated those of their opponents. Attributions in this sense have always existed. Justifying its existence is a sociological banality. The more difficult questions, however, concern the changes implied by processes of attribution and their impact on both social change and developments for and within modernity.

Reducing complexity is the usual rationale for assignments. With the advent of large production organizations, expanded bureaucracies, economies organized around the division of labor, and stratified authority groups, power generators have become complex in themselves. The achievements of many workers on the payroll, and even the achievements of a single businessman or politician with a large support team at his disposal, are attributed primarily to one group, and especially to a large group such as the working class, a member of of a match. , administration, or government (Office 1970). Such attributions occur even when objective measures and aggregations of performance are possible. The "agent's structuring practices" can be seen in action and the "summary reports" can be stated by the analyst. The best example of this is econometrics (Knorr-Cetina 1981, 34). Another example is the "State of the Union" presentation.

Below this level, in modern societies, achievements are attributed in terms of actions and results of actions in different occupations and related offices. Within each occupation, assignments are based both on the assigned quality of typical occupations and on the quantitative aspects of work performed. In other words, we found attributions of important and less important positions. Furthermore, attribution of harm in modern societies is also linked to large groupings of nations and professional and related groups. These observations become clear when discussions occur between management and the striking workers. Both sides assign damage causes


action to the other. Similarly, harmful acts are blamed on terrorists, career criminals, military leaders of a foreign power, and cult leaders.

Increased complexity leads to greater differentiation. The result is that there is no guarantee that the assignments of an ever-increasing variety of actors will become uniform. In principle, it would be expected that each actor would develop his own attributions based on his individual social and biographical situation. Empirically, however, the actor is often faced with a closed and rigid attribution system. These systems arise in closed and homogeneous societies as well as in traditional societies, and are always present in conditions of repressive authority. This is natural, as consistent attributions ensure that interactions are predictable, which is typical of this type of society. Once the public has judged an action or an actor to be worthwhile, it also becomes clear what that actor can claim for himself. This process takes place in a context of violence in societies with strong powers of authority. In these cases, attribution power is monopolized, making what is produced at higher levels recognized as an achievement. Therefore, those in power generally have easier and more direct access to imputable power.

Wherever societies have become more complex and internally differentiated (due to professional groups, political groups, including minorities, immigration) and where there has been much external contact, existing attributions become problematic and arguments, conflicts and struggles end. in assignments. Such arguments and conflicts are typical of the modern age. The attributions of the majority are opposed to those of the minority. Arguments and conflicts over attribution also arise when the balance of power is relaxed, particularly due to the differentiation of roles and functional systems (Luhmann 1984, 186). These discussions focus on the following questions: What defines performance? Who did it? Which services are more important than others? Whose actions cause harm? What does more harm than good?

Attribution conflicts intensify when ideas of equality prevail, but inequality persists. Equality brings with it a touch of attribution: everyone achieves the same thing. Therefore, existing inequalities must be justified. It is also considered that disadvantages and burdens are equally distributed among the population. This raises the problem that certain strata, particularly minorities, are disproportionately held responsible for such acts (eg criminal acts). But it doesn't have to be equality anymore


justified or justified because it is accepted as a state of nature. Inequalities of power, reward, and negative sanctions are best explained and justified in terms of differences in performance and the cause of harm. For this reason, attribution conflicts center on such inequalities.

To gain external recognition of their own positions, new groups or inferior actors build self-definitions and attributions not only on their own accomplishments, but also on their share of power and resources in society. In addition, they formulate images of society that explain the existing reality, which they consider unfair. They build images of a future society and assign themselves a more important position. Your social self-awareness, your sense of social identity, develops and provides a foundation upon which actions can be carried out more easily. For this self-assessment to be sustained, an internal organization that encourages self-attribution is needed.

But self-attributions do not remain stable. In service relationships, the various actors try to impose their own and others' definitions of resources and services. Resources and achievements and a new, fairer distribution of power and privileges are negotiated. Concepts such as "status management" and "policy stratification" reflect these processes. Negotiation means that actors, groups or parties try to reach agreements about attributions and the recognition of attributions in their future relationships.

Negotiations promote the trend towards greater equality, because negotiations always involve communication between the parties involved, and the willingness to communicate gives the other a sense of legitimacy. Thus, each party can reject a given proposal or impose certain conditions. This bargaining process can go so far that the elites themselves accept ideas of equality and claim only equal achievements, as was the case for members of the nobility in many bourgeois and proletarian revolutions.

Fundamentally, modern attributions are not necessarily correct just because they arose from a bargaining process. There is some evidence that situational definitions are more appropriate when a large number of actors from different positions participate in your project, but there is no guarantee that mass assignments are correct. The persecutions of witches and Jews, each supported by large majorities, make that clear.

Finally, attributions in the modern age are of a less permanent character. A permanent state of change can be observed. Time and again, groups with new demands come into play, which always leads to attribution battles.


4. An explanation of the different rates of profit in two modern societies

There are many development processes that can be explained using the framework described above and in which negotiations over the allocation of benefits and harms play a central role. Similarly, negotiations take place over resources and power, rewards, entitlements, self-directing abilities and individualization. The path to modernity is also a trend away from the monopolization of defining power by elites towards a downward distribution of that power. I show this trend by examining changes in profit rates in the United States and West Germany. This empirical analysis also contains references to Great Britain and France, as these societies strongly influenced developments in the United States and Germany.

The decisive factor for the development of modern societies is initially the mobilization of increasing resources. The most important stages of this process for modern societies were the modernization of agriculture, the industrial revolution, the modernization of commerce and transport, and the educational revolution. These resource mobilization phases cause changes in performance and other factor relationships. Europe in general and Britain in particular have long played a leading role in constantly mobilizing new resources. Today, resource mobilization in the United States and Western Europe is very similar. Looking at the differences in the downward distribution of benefits in the United States and West Germany, it is clear that the observable differences in the mobilization of labor and power and in education are not sufficient to explain differences in performance. There is also no significant difference between the United States and West Germany when it comes to assigning importance to resources. Therefore, factors other than resource mobilization and allocation must explain the differences in the distribution of benefits in these two societies.

Likewise, there are no significant differences in overall levels of performance in the United States and West Germany. Thus performance in both societies - as measured by per capita gross national product growth - is moderate in both cases (World Bank 1985, 175). An examination of who has achieved achievement according to objective criteria shows strong increases in the level of achievement among the lower classes in both societies. These increases date back more than a hundred years.

The industrial revolution, in particular, brought with it a significant shift in yield potential. Entrepreneurs, namely from the urban center


Classes in general could offer your new approach to economic and other activities. They gave many micro-actors the opportunity to make things happen. With new machines, industrial workers produced a whole new range of goods. For this, they had to demonstrate order, discipline, willingness to work and physical effort, anything but natural. Large groups of highly skilled workers were sought after from the beginning (Geiger 1949, 87-88). The biggest leap in performance, however, was given by the dependent masses and no longer by the bourgeoisie, as happened before and after the French Revolution. The bourgeoisie had already reached a high level of performance at the time of the great political revolutions and could no longer improve on that level. However, it was only with the industrial revolution that the masses emerged from the shadow of economic development.

From about 1860 to the present, the increase in productivity of the masses is impressive. This increase was particularly evident in Sweden and other Scandinavian countries, but productivity gains were also significant in Germany and the United States (Kuznets 1966, 66-65, 73). Economic growth in both Europe and the United States during this period can be attributed in large part to increased efficiency of the workforce (Kuznets 1966, 72-81, 494). In recent times, large increases in the productivity of the labor production factor have still been achieved. Annual increases in this statistic in the Federal Republic of Germany ranged between 1.5 and 11.3 percent over the period 1960-1984 (Statistisches Taschenbuch 1985, Table 3.3). Productivity per hour worked increased at annual rates between 1.3 and 6.5% during the period 1960-84 (Statistics Pocketbook 1985, Table 1.7). More recent studies confirm the growing importance of human work (Kern and Schumann 1984). Angelika Schade concludes that all the data “support the claim that there was a steady long-term increase in crowd performance” (Schade 1986, 75).

At the same time that mass productivity has increased, evidence in many areas points to a decline in elite performance. First, economic growth in both the United States and Germany is due less to the expansion and application of capital than to increased labor productivity (Kuznets 1966, 72-81). Second, the elite in Germany has repeatedly shown that it is a political failure. Examples of this are the lack of moderation in Kaiser Wilhelm II's policies, the lack of identification with the Weimar Republic, and the lack of resistance to National Socialism (Mayer 1980, 167). In contrast to these failures, the German elite has achieved many significant successes in the years since World War II, including securing authority and commitment.


democratic, economic and socio-political reconstruction. However, compared to earlier historical periods, the tasks undertaken and performed were more limited (Baier, 1977). In the economic field, entrepreneurs have fared poorly in modern times, particularly since the mid-1960s. They are very short-term oriented (Vondran 1985, 42) and emphasize technical developments (Mayer 1980). Thus, bankruptcies, crises and mismanagement in well-known companies are not uncommon (Wurm 1978, 184). This situation is not very different from that of the United States, where the elites have failed, the racial problem being an example of this. The American leadership in particular has had to live with major political and military defeats in recent decades; and the speeds of economic development do not differ significantly from those of West Germany.

The lack of differences between the United States and West Germany in the objective achievements of upper and lower strata of society does not explain the performance relationships discussed in the introduction to this chapter: namely, that German elites tend to be less capable and American elites . more capable elites, while German workers are more efficient than Americans. To explain this difference, it is necessary to consider an attributive effect that arose before the industrial revolution and that still influences the current situation.

Since the fifteenth century at the latest, economic interrelations have become evident in a differentiated way. Its performance or damage potential can be measured in terms of protection from external threats and opportunities for internal power for monarchs and nobles. From these interrelationships emerged what marks the beginning of modernity: the first significant conflict of attributions. A new group, the bourgeoisie, made important achievements and took credit for these achievements in a process of self-definition. This process culminated in the description of society as a whole as "civil society", a definition first successfully asserted with the proclaimed victory of the bourgeoisie in the United States. Before the American Revolution, Americans credited themselves with solving all of society's fundamental problems. From this perspective, the British sovereign was only interested in collecting taxes. The First Congress appealed to the people of England: Have we not added all the strength of this great country to that which drove out our common enemy? And do we not leave our homeland and brave disease and death to promote the fortunes of the British Crown in distant lands? Won't you reward us for our diligence? (Adams and Adams 1976, 105-6). The small number of representatives


The British crown had nothing comparable to counter these self-attributions of the great American players.

The situation in Germany was very different. There the bourgeoisie tried to import the result of the French Revolution. The attributive victory achieved by the French bourgeoisie is explained by the greater weight of its conquest. Even before the revolution, the bourgeoisie, through its successes in crafts, technology, industry and trade, had achieved far greater importance than the king with his absolute power and the nobility, who shared his sovereignty (Classens 1968, 132). . At the same time, the Third Estate had the most skilled agitators within its own ranks. Since the orator of Louis XVI. When confronted by the lawyers Saint Just and Robespierre, they invariably brought out the worst (Jonas 1982). Other important, like-minded players who got involved in the attribution battles were radical philosophers and apostate priests who could do nothing but attribute. Abbé Sieyès asked the famous rhetorical question "What is the third estate?" posed and immediately replied, "Everything." A pamphlet that circulated at the time shows a character from the Third Estate carrying the king, the nobility and the clergy on his shoulders. Despite the efficiency of the bourgeoisie, this image was exaggerated; yet this incredible arrogance was common throughout the Third Estate (Jonas 1982).

Third Estate agitators even managed to force the self-attribution of the bourgeoisie to other groups: the nobility itself represented ideas of equality, and the priests who remained in office were no longer convinced of their special position (Jonas 1982). This situation laid the foundations for the forced dissemination of ideas of equality. Thus, the attribution battle between those above and those below was decided before the French Revolution: "Whoever heard the theories, [in the late eighteenth century avoided coming to the conclusion that France, as it then existed, . . . was already the most democratic nation in Europe" (Tocqueville 1967, 130). The conflict culminated in the French Revolution and a convincing and attributable bourgeois victory. This victory ensured that the superior performance of this layer was recognized and recorded for posterity.

Once established, assignments can last for a long time. Even today, the French elite, the bourgeoisie, can claim a particularly large share of national income (World Bank 1985, 229).

In Germany the situation was different. In 1848, the Prussian bourgeoisie had neither the achievements nor the self-confidence of its empire.


French and American colleagues. The main state offices in Germany were occupied by high-performance actors who successfully asserted their right to carry out important tasks and described themselves as the first servants of the state. Even taking into account the effects of the ideology of equality and the attribution activities of the bourgeoisie, the bourgeoisie could not hope to win attribution conflicts with the ruling class. So the course of events in Prussia, after a brief period of uncertainty among rulers as to the role they should play, provoked a reaction.

To this day, the bourgeoisie of the Federal Republic of Germany does not have the obligatory recognition of the conquests that the bourgeois layers of France and the United States have. Therefore, the different levels of achievement attributed to economic citizenship in Germany and the United States play an important role in determining the differences in recognized achievement rates. Recognized elite achievement is lower in West Germany than in the United States. The West German masses, however, proved particularly capable of claiming special achievements for themselves.

Although workers in Britain, Switzerland and Belgium (the three European societies then more industrialized than Germany) were aware that they occupied an important but contested position in society, they were unable to share this awareness to connect enough actors who could organize themselves. . themselves, go on the offensive and assert this self-attribution. The first attempts to assert this self-image were the founding of umbrella trade union organizations in 1868 in Germany (about twenty years after the start of industrialization) and in Great Britain (about a hundred years after the start of the period). Other nations followed much later. The formation of workers' parties was more important than the founding of trade union organizations. These parties not only implement worker self-allocations in labor disputes and negotiations, but also involve workers in all aspects of the public bargaining process in which political parties typically voice their positions. It was only after 1885 that workers' parties emerged in Great Britain, Switzerland and Belgium, while actors in Germany founded workers' parties.General Association of German Workers(General German Workers' Party) as early as 1863 under Lassalle in Leipzig, followed in 1869 by theSocial Democratic Labor Party(Social Democratic Workers' Party) or SDAP under Liebknecht and Bebel in Eisenach. The macro-actors Lassalle, Liebknecht and Bebel formulated self-attributions for industrial workers that could not be clearer. The self-attributions are not surprising, given that two of Marx's major works were published in 1848 and 1867. The fact that Marx's first works were published in German was undoubtedly one of the main reasons why the worker's self-attribution was proposed for the first time by German industrialists. workers and their


Leader. This newfound self-confidence is reflected in theGeneral Association of German WorkersLeague anthems:

worker, woke up
And recognize your power!
all wheels stop
If your strong arm will!

Worker, get up now!
What power you have when you have eyes.
All wheels grounded on a stand
If it's your strong hand's desire.

Like the French bourgeoisie, the self-image of German workers tended to exaggerate their own importance. But Marx and the leaders of the labor movement managed to give industrial workers and their organizers strong self-confidence in a situation that was basically hopeless, given the prevailing perception of the role and importance of employers.

As we know, the United States not only does not have a workers' party to this day, but the level of unionization is one of the lowest in the world. Moderation has prevailed since the early days of unionization in the United States. Faced with this situation, the leader of the American Federation of Labor (AFL), Samuel Gompers, considered it prudent to remain immune to attack. After the turn of the century, he proclaimed that the AFL's demands had nothing in common with those of foreign revolutionaries and ideologies advocating system change. He claimed that American workers just wanted more money and shorter hours (Merkl and Rahab 1977, 17). Under the circumstances, lower-level players in Western Europe have achieved far more impressive results than in the United States.

If we compare the successes or failures attributed to the bourgeoisie in political revolutions, d weaker in the United States, then the answer to the question why the recognized ratio of return is more favorable to the masses in Germany than in the United States is obvious. The great turning point in the decline of the German elite in the early modern era and the specific "performance advantage" of the dependent masses in West Germany cannot be attributed solely to an objective increase in the value of strata services. bourgeois. in the Federal Republic - in the first case in the United States and France, in the second case later in the strata of the proletarian classes in Germany. because besides


actual performance values, there were also changes in the subjective evaluation of these values. These changes were a result, on the one hand, of the success of the macro-actors who emerged on the scene and interacted with the many micro-actors below, and, on the other hand, of the influence of egalitarian norms and norms and democratic values.


Adams, Willi Paul and Angela Meurer Adams, editors 1976.The American Revolution in Eyewitness Accounts. Munich: German paperback publisher.

Baier, Horst. 1977. Domination in the Welfare State.Cologne Journal of Sociology and Social Policy.19 (special edition,sociology and social politics): 128–42.

BAUDELARE, Carlos. 1925.selected works. vol. 3,Critical and posthumous writings. Munich: Müller.

Becker, Howard S. 1963.Outsiders: studies on the sociology of deviance. Nova York: Free Press.

Bendix, Reinhard. 1971. Sociology and the Mistrust of Reason. At theScience and Partisanship: Essays on Max Weber, von Reinhard Bendix e Günther Roth, 84–105. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Bolte, Karl Martin. 1979.principle of performance and performance. Opladen, W. Ger.: Leske y Budrich.

Claessens, Dieter. 1968.role and power. Munich: Juventus.

Ferguson, Adam. [1767] 1969.Essays on the history of civil society. Farnborough, inglês: Gregg.

GEIGER, Teodoro. 1949.Class society in the cauldron. Cologne: Kiepenheuer.

Häferkamp, ​​Hans. 1983.Sociology of domination. Analysis of the structure, development and status of power contexts. Opladen, W. Gen.: West German Publishers.

Häferkamp, ​​Hans. 1991.Social action: theory of social behavior and meaningful action, contexts of planned action and social structures. Opladen: West German Publishers.

Hondrich, Karl Otto. 1973dominance theory. Frankfurt: Suhrkamp.

Jonas Frederick. one thousand nine hundred and eighty-two.Sociological Reflections on the French Revolution. ed. Manfred Hennen and Walter G. Rödel. Estugarda: Enke.

Kern, Horst and Michael Schummann. 1984The end of the division of labor? Rationalization in industrial production: inventory, determination of trends. Munique: Beck.

Kitschel, Herbert. 1985. Material Politicization of Production. Social challenge and institutional innovations in advanced capitalist democracies.Sociology Magazine14:188–208.

Knorr-Cetina, Karin D. 1981. The microsociological challenge of macrosociology: Towards a reconstruction of social theory and methodology. At theAdvances in social theory and methodology: Towards an integration of micro and


macrossociologias, ed. Knorr-Cetina KD and Cicourel AV, 1–47. Boston: Routledge and Kegan Paul.

Kuznets, Simon. 1966.Modern Economic Growth: Pace, Structure and Dispersion. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Levy, Marion J. 1967. Social patterns and problems of modernization. At theReadings on Social Change, Hrsg. Wilbert E. Moore e R. Cook, 189–208. Englewood Cliffs, Nova Jersey: Prentice-Hall.

Lockwood, David. 1985. Civic stratification, 1985. Paper presented at the Sociological Theories and Inequality conference. Organized by the Section for Sociological Theory of the German Sociological Society, 10.–11. October, Bremen, 1985.

Luhmann, Niklas. 1984.Social systems: sketches of a general theory. Frankfurt: Suhrkamp.

Marshall, Thomas Humphrey. [1949] 1977. Citizenship and social class. At theClass, Citizenship and Social Development, por T. H. Marshall, 71-134. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Marx, Karl e Friedrich Engels. [1848] 1964.Manifesto of the Communist Party. NoKarl Marx, Early Writings, ed. Siegfried Landshut, 525–60. Stugard: crowns.

MAYER, Karl Ulrich. 1980. Structure and Change in Political Elites. At theGermany-France: module for systems comparison, editor Robert Bosch Stiftung Gmbh, 1:165-95. Gerlingen, W. Ger.: Bleicher.

Merkl, Peter H. and Dieter Raabe. 1977.american political sociology. Wiesbaden: academic press.

Nisbet, Robert A. e Robert G. Perrin. 1970The social bond: an introduction to the study of society. . . . 2nd edition New York: Button.

Sai Klaus. 1970Principle of performance and industrial work. Mechanisms of status distribution in the work organizations of the industrial workers' society. Frankfurt: editorial europea.

Pr. Talcott. 1951.the social system. Glencoe, Illinois: Free Press.

Pr. Talcott. [1971] 1972.The system of modern societies.. Munich: Juventus. (First published in English: 1971.The system of modern societies.. Englewood Cliffs, Nova Jersey: Prentice Hall.

Ronge, Volker. 1975. Depoliticization of Research Policy.Leviathan3:307–37.

Rossiter, Clinton. 1956.the first american revolution. Nova York: Harbrace.

Well done Angelica. 1986Alignment processes: theoretical approaches and empirical tests. Master's thesis, Institute of Sociology, University of Bremen.

Protection, Alfred. 1964-67.collected papers. volumes 1-3 Haia: Nijhoff.

No, Dieter. one thousand nine hundred and eighty-twoLearn from Europe. development considerations. Frankfurt: Suhrkamp. (See English translation: 1985.the european experience. Leamington Spa, Ing.: Berg.)

Simmel, Jorge. [1908] 1968.Sociology: Studies on the form of socialization. Berlin: Duncker and Humblot.

Statistical Yearbook of the Federal Republic of Germany. Weisbaden: Wiesbaden Federal Statistical Office.


Statistical pocketbook. Labor and social statistics. 1985 Bonn: Federal Minister for Labor and Social Affairs.

Strasser, Hermann e Susan C. Randall. 1981An introduction to theories of social change.. Londres: Routledge und Kegan Paul.

Strauss, Anselmo. 1978Negotiations, variants, contexts. processes and social order. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Tocqueville, Alexis de. 1967.Social and political conditions in France before and after 1789. NoAlexis de Tocqueville. 2nd Edition, Siegfried Landshut Edition, 117–140. Cologne: West German Publisher.

UNESCO.statistical yearbook. Paris: United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

Vondran, Ruprecht. 1985. Similarities and Differences in Management. At theThe world of work in Japan and the Federal Republic of Germany: a comparison, ed., Peter Hanau, Saburo Kimoto, Heinz Markmann e Kazuaki Tezuka, 9–46. Neuwied: Luchterhand.

Weber, max. 1920.Collected essays on the sociology of religion.. Vol. 1. Tubinga: J.C.B. Mohr (Siebeck).

Wiswede, Günter and Thomas Kutsch. 1978social change. Darmstadt: Society for Scientific Books.

Wittfogel, Karl A. 1938. The Theory of Oriental Society.Social Research Magazine7:90–122.

World Bank. 1985Global development report. Washington DC.

Wurm, Franz F. 1978.performance and society. Opladen, W. Ger.: Leske y Budrich.

Zapf, Wolfgang. 1983. Development dilemmas and innovation potential in modern societies. At theCrisis of working-class society? Negotiations at the XXI German Sociological Conference in Bamberg, 1982, edited by Joachim Matthes, 293–308. Frankfurt: campus.


Employment, class and mobility:
A critique of liberal and Marxist theories of long-term change

John H Goldthorpe

1. Theories of change in class stratification

In this chapter I am concerned with theories of long-term changes in class stratification in advanced Western societies. These theories fall into two main types, on which I will dwell: (i) those that form part of more general liberal theories about the development of industrialism or "post-industrialism"; and (ii) those that form part of more general Marxist theories about the development of capitalism or "late capitalism". In this first section of the chapter, I discuss these theories in sufficient detail to highlight the main differences between them. In the next section, I examine their performance in light of recent research. I am focusing my attention here, without apology, on the results of the investigation.quantitativelyresults, since, as we shall see, most of the problems that arise in comparing the two types of theory are inevitably quantitative.[1]

[1] It will also be apparent that, contrary to the sentiment ('argument' would be too strong a word) in much of the recent 'methodological' writing in sociology, I agree with the -essentially Popperian- view that if theories are available to anyone If they have informative and therefore explanatory value, they must be open, either directly or through the claims that may be derived from them, to criticism and possible refutation in the light of empirical studies. I am aware of the philosophical difficulties that arise from a naive - or even sophisticated - "falsificationist" position, particularly the possibility that empirical results that seem to refute a proposition can be contested by the concepts and theories directed and conditioned in their production. It seems to me, however, that such difficulties can be largely circumvented in the actual practice of any kind of scientific endeavor, for example, by the willingness of proponents of a theory to state which empirical results, produced in what way, would be produced. . make your theory invalid. I believe that most of the authors whose works I analyze in this article have, at least in practice, a view of the relationship between theory and research that is broadly compatible with mine, and none

He expressly takes a position that makes his theoretical arguments immune to empirically based criticism.


The main conclusion I have reached is that neither liberal nor Marxist theory withstands empirical scrutiny and, indeed, the claims of both must now be considered invalid in essential respects. Consequently, in the final section of the chapter, I wonder if anything general can be said about why these theories have proved so unsuccessful, and if so, what lessons can be drawn from their failure.

The changing trends proposed by the theories I wish to examine can usefully be treated as occurring (i) in the division of labor or, more precisely, in the structure of employment; (ii) in the class structure; and (iii) rates and patterns of social mobility within the class structure. There is, of course, some variation between liberal and Marxist theory, and I cannot claim to do full justice to that here. Instead, I will focus on the characteristics of liberal theories, on the one hand, and Marxist theories, on the other, that seem central to the genre. On the liberal side, I trust Kerr et al. ([1960]) 1973), as well as Kerr (1983), Bell (1967, 1973) and Blue and Duncan (1967); on the Marxist side, I turn to Braverman (1974), Carchedi (1977), Wright (1978, 1985) and Wright and Singelmann (1982). These sources will no longer be cited unless you are citing them directly.

1.1. Changes in the structure of employment

It is a central claim of liberal theories that, in the course of the development of industrial and post-industrial societies, the structure of employment becomes increasingly "improved" on the balance sheet. The proportion of the total workforce employed in jobs that require minimal skills and experience (and therefore minimal education and training) tends to decline steadily, while there is a corresponding increase in job types that require a range of new skills. in theoretical and practical knowledge. it may also involve the exercise of authority and responsibility. Two main sources of this appreciation are identified. First, continuous technological advances in all forms of production tend to eliminate merely “labor” or highly routine jobs, creating others that require technically and scientifically qualified personnel to fill them. Second, the tendency discussed by economists such as Clark (1957), Kuznets (1966) and Fuchs (1968) for labor to shift sectors in a growing economy, first from agriculture and extractive industries to manufacturing, but after manufacturing to services. Sector: It also generates a greater demand for highly qualified skills, both technical and 'soft'. also the organization


of services, public and private, tends to multiply administrative, managerial and professional positions.

In direct contrast, even in more or less explicit contradiction, with this thesis of progressive employment improvement, Marxist authors claim that the long-term trend of change in Western societies is in fact leading to a systematic reduction in employment. In the context of prevailing industrial organization methods, characterized by modern "scientific management", technological advances mean that one type of work after another, in all sectors of the economy, is effectively "skilled" and therefore, although the trend far exceed any increase in specialist or managerial positions. Thus, Marxists argue that much of the growth in wage employment that has so impressed liberal writers consists of jobs that have since been downgraded and that, in terms of skill levels and autonomy, wages and conditions, are the manual jobs they replaced. nothing superior.

This systematic degradation (or emotional 'degradation') of work ultimately derives, from a Marxist perspective, from the fact that capitalist production involves the exploitation of workers by their employers. This means that the labor process under capitalism must be organized in such a way that it satisfies not only the requirements of productive efficiency, but also the requirements of social control of work. And in this last sense, the possibility of using new technologies and management methods to remove skills –and therefore autonomy and discretion– from the mass of workers and concentrate them in the hands of management is a possibility that employers will always seek to realize. In short, while liberals see changing employment patterns as an essentially adaptive response to technological and economic advances, Marxists would tend to see them as a result of ongoing class struggle.

1.2. Change in class structure

With regard to changes in the class structures of Western societies, liberal theorists emphasize two main developments, both of which they would see as direct consequences of the net appreciation of employment. On the one hand, they point to the reduction of the working class in the sense of working class and, on the other hand, to the rise of what is often called the "new middle class" of white-collar workers, in contrast to the "old class". average" of owners and "self-employed", whose social meaning is losing importance due to the growing dominance of large companies. The class structure of industrial societies increasingly mirrors the social hierarchy of modern corporations, although at the same time there is a clearer reduction across all classes.


Inequalities, for example, of income and levels and lifestyles. Indeed, for some authors (eg Duncan 1968) the very concept of a graded complexity class structure of advanced industrialism is inadequate and should be better replaced by that of a "socio-economic" status continuum.

Once again, the position taken by Marxist theorists is quite the opposite, and stems from their emphasis on lowering rather than raising occupational structure. Rather than a decrease in the size of the working class, they see an expanding process of “proletarianization” under way that will keep the working class in a position of superiority, at least numerically, if not sociopolitically.[2]In classical Marxism, the idea of ​​proletarianization was specifically applied to the "closure" of petty-bourgeois elements in the ranks of wage workers; but in more recent analyses, its meaning has been magnified to such an extent that, in effect, it has become synonymous with the changes in work content and working conditions that the "degradation of work" thesis asserts and, in particular, when this thesis is applied to work. Marxist writers would then reject the view that the class structures of Western late capitalist societies show gradually increasing complexity over the long term. While it can be recognized that the growth of professional, administrative and managerial wages has created some problems both in theory and in practice (the problems of "middle strata", "dual roles", "conflicting class locations", etc.), as z Problems tend to be seen as temporary problems that actually find their solution while the simplistic logic of proletarianization continues. As Braverman says:

The problem of the so-called clerk or clerk, which so worried previous generations of Marxists and which was hailed by anti-Marxists as proof of the falsity of the "proletarianization" thesis, is thus found at the pole of an immense mass through the polarization of office employment and the growthsalaried workers. The apparent tendency towards a large non-proletarian "middle class" resolved itself into the creation of a large proletariat in a new form. (1974, 355, emphasis in original)

[2] Poulantzas (1974) takes what must be considered a dissenting Marxist view in this regard. His conceptualization of modern class structures would obviously require that he, along with liberal theorists, recognize a numerically reduced working class alongside what he would see as an expanding "new petty bourgeoisie". It is hard to resist the conclusion that other Marxists' criticisms of the position taken by Poulantzas were inspired as much by the unsympathetic nature of its political implications as by pre-existing theoretical disagreements. For example, Wright (1976, 23) complains: "It is difficult to imagine a viable socialist movement developing in an advanced capitalist society in which fewer than one in five people are workers." Structure and Action. see Lockwood (1981).


1.3. Changes in social mobility

For liberal theorists, industrial societies are highly mobile societies. The general assumption is that economic development and social mobility are positively related: the greater the economic development of a society, the higher the rates of social mobility it will exhibit. Explanations of how this association occurs take somewhat different forms (Goldthorpe 1985a), but two processes clearly stand out (Treiman 1970). First, it appears that the very change in the structure of employment, which, as described above, is seen as a consequence of technological and economic progress, generates a high degree of occupational and class mobility. Given that there is also a net increase in employment, the mobility pattern again shows a net upward trend. In particular, the expansion of technical, administrative, and managerial occupations of the new middle class is too great to be tackled only by self-recruitment and mobility of the old middle class, and it even greatly expands opportunities for individuals to climb the social ladder. .of the working class.

Second, it is argued that, in addition to the effects of this structural change, mobility also increases due to changing criteria and processes of social selection. The operation of a modern industrial society implies a progressive shift from "attribution" to "merit" as the guiding principle of selection, and this principle is embodied in the practices of educational and employment organizations. In turn, carrying out this “meritocratic” selection promotes greater openness and equity in the sense that the educational and occupational levels of individuals are less correlated with the characteristics of their families or communities of origin. Due to the prevailing high mobility, the potential for class formation and class conflict in modern societies is considered to be steadily decreasing. The more easily class boundaries are crossed, the less likely it is that class will provide the foundation upon which collective identities and collective action develop. Mobility fulfills important legitimizing and stabilizing functions. Quoting Blau and Duncan (1967, 440): "To the extent that high mobility opportunities make men less dissatisfied with the system of social differentiation in their society and less likely to organize against it, they help to perpetuate that system of social differentiation. stratification and, at the same time, help to perpetuate this system of stratification. at the same time, they stabilize the political institutions that sustain them”.

In the case of mobility trends, Marxist theorists do not provide adequate counterarguments to those presented by liberal authors. Instead, there is great disagreement about the importance of mobility itself. So when Marxists don't completely ignore the issue of mobility, they try to dismiss it as a more ideologically motivated issue.


that due to social science concerns (cf. e.g. Poulantzas 1974, 37) or do not give it much importance, because mobility between different classroom locations is really very limited. For example, Carchedi (1977, 173) argues that 'in general, a member of the working class remains a member of the working class' and that 'the same is true of both the middle class and the capitalist class'. The only way of any real significance that individuals can have to change their class position is collectively and "through changes in the intrinsic nature" of the positions they occupy. That is, individuals do not move as muchin betweenclasses likeswindlerclasses And the most important example of mobility in this sense that emerges within contemporary capitalism is the one that implies a clear downward movement, namely, "the case of the proletarianization of the new middle class" through the "devaluation" of its workforce. For Marxist writers, then, there is nothing in the dynamics of class stratification in modern societies that can undermine the very possibilities for class action, even if that action may be constrained by other “ideological” or “conjunctural” factors. On the contrary, as the deterioration of work and the proletarianization of workers inexorably advance, class differences widen and class interests increasingly come into conflict.

2. Review of evidence

Now, in assessing the claims of liberal and Marxist theory in the light of research, I proceed under the same headings as in the previous section. As well as being convenient to traverse the same sequence of issues - from the evolution of the structure of employment to changes in class structure and trends in class mobility - it should help to evoke some coherence in the empirical results they support.

2.1. Changes in the structure of employment

The Marxist thesis of the degradation of work developed as an explicit critique of liberal demands for the progressive improvement of employment. However, it seems fair to say that, in this respect, Marxists, more than liberals, became defensive when the issue between them was treated empirically. The main difficulty for the Marxist position arises from the trends shown in the official employment statistics of the more advanced industrialized countries. These show, with considerable regularity, that the greatest increases in white-collar employment in recent decades have not occurred in the relatively lower echelons of clerical, sales, and personnel, but in technical, administrative, and managerial occupations. Furthermore,


The biggest decline in manual employment was recorded in the lowest-skilled rather than the highest-skilled categories. Such statistics in themselves constitute strong prima facie evidence against the degrading thesis, and therefore forced Marxists to try to counter-argue. These took two main lines.

First, some Marxists point out (see in particular Wright and Singelmann 1982) that the discrepancy between the claims of the devaluation thesis and discernible trends in employment statistics may arise from changes in occupational distribution at the social level that are independent of changes in the world of work. work Organization of production in certain companies. Such changes could simply arise from changes in the distribution of total employment among different branches and sectors which, in turn, have different occupational structures. In other words, it is possible that the proliferation of professionals, administrators and managers is largely, or wholly, a result of the growth of the service sector, where such occupations have always been more prominent than, say, heavy industry, which they are now. typically in decline. But then it can be argued that the effect of humiliation is only masked by compensatory tendencies which cannot continue indefinitely; And as the 'service economy' reaches its full potential and the effects of attrition on the job structure disappear, the reality of degradation will become increasingly apparent.

Of course, while this reasoning is analytically sound, it does not follow that it is empirically valid, and indeed, there has recently been significant evidence to the contrary. Although Wright and Singelmann (1982) provided some supportive results for the United States in the 1960s (Singelmann and Browning 1980), later analyzes for the United States in the 1970s reported by Singelmann and Tienda (1985) and analyzes for several Studies of European nations (Gershuny 1983) have produced results that clearly point in the opposite direction. What is shown here is that the main trends perceptible in national employment statistics persist even when all changes across sectors are taken into account. That is, net improvement trends must be seen not only as a result of such changes, but also of technological, organizational and other types of changes that determine the actual occupational mix at the production unit level.

The second way that proponents of the humiliating thesis have tried to overcome the problem posed by occupational distribution data is to claim that the thesis relates not only to the movement of workers between occupations, but also to changes that occur within occupations. It is. , changes in its specific technical and social content. These arguments are difficult to directly confirm or refute. Detailed study of work tasks and roles of the type they are


it is hardly feasible at an industry-wide level and, in fact, has been limited to case studies whose results, perhaps unsurprisingly, have turned out to be quite inconclusive.[3]However, a single set of data provided an indirect test of the thesis of devaluation understood as such and in the context of a national society. In each of the three 'rounds' of the Swedish Living Standards Survey, carried out in 1968, 1974 and 1981, a sample of the Swedish population answered a series of questions about their jobs and working conditions. These results have recently been analyzed in light of expectations derived from the degrading thesis (Åberg 1984a, 1984b). There is little or no support for the idea that the Swedish workforce deteriorated during the period under review. For example, overall levels of work-related education and training increased, fewer workers reported a boring routine or severe lack of autonomy in their work, and more found their work mentally (but not physically) exhausting.

Efforts to reconcile the degrading thesis with prevailing trends in employment statistics are therefore not convincing, and it is noteworthy that some early proponents of the thesis now seem ready to abandon it (see Singelmann and Tienda 1985). Of course, there is no doubt that at any given moment in a technologically and economically dynamic society, some kinds of work are, in some sense, in the process of being downgraded or degraded (though not necessarily for the reasons that Marxists would argue). . But there also doesn't seem to be any reason to question the thesis that, as old skills, autonomy and responsibilities disappear, they are replaced - and indeed more than replaced - by new ones, as liberal theorists would claim.

Does it follow from this that, in rejecting the degrading thesis, the empirical evidence simultaneously leads us to accept the liberal argument for a progressive improvement of the workforce? a lot depends on it

[3] This point could hardly be better demonstrated than by the voluminous literature produced by the British industrial sociologist who suffered from "Bravermania". Just to illustrate the generally prevailing inconsistency between theory and evidence, see the recent contributions by Crompton and Jones (1984) and Penn and Scattergood (1985) and the earlier discussions to which these authors refer. Furthermore, as argued elsewhere, it must be recognized that

even pretty undeniable evidence of humiliationderived from specific case studiesmay be of little value in defending the humiliating thesis against the edifying thesisregarding class structures. Defenders of this last thesis do not try to deny the occurrence of disqualification or other forms of degradation (although they may want to see them as an integral part of the development of industrial societies, and not specifically capitalist ones); but they still claim that theredResult of technological and organizational changein the economy as a wholeis a capacity increaseand in the proportion of salaried or bureaucratic workers. In other words, macrosociological arguments can only be properly argued on the basis of macrosociological data. (Goldthorpe and Payne 1986, 23)


what exactly this argument should imply. The decline of workers and the expansion of professional, administrative, and managerial wages could plausibly be seen as generic processes of advanced industrial societies. But recently, other developments are evident in such societies that do not fit in with the more optimistic liberal scenarios that played out in the postwar "long boom" years, which saw upgrading at all levels of the professional structure as effective and effective. eventual “professionalization of all”. The most obvious is the return of massive, long-term unemployment in most (though not all) Western societies since the mid-1970s. This means that job loss has now become a fundamental economic reality for many communities, families and individuals, although the balance of change may be in favor of valuing existing jobs.[4]The fact that unemployment is still heavily concentrated among ex-wage earners illustrates the continuing differentiation of economic life opportunities for this group compared to those employees who normally enjoy significantly greater security through the "conditions of service" of bureaucratic staff. (Goldthorpe 1985b). ; Goldthorpe and Payne 1986).

Furthermore, alongside unemployment in most Western societies, there have been trends, albeit in very different shapes and magnitudes, towards what is aptly described by a term drawn from the French experience:the precariousness of work(see Michon 1981). There has been an increase in various forms of employment of an "atypical" nature - part-time, temporary, domestic, contract, etc. - creating a "secondary" workforce that is highly exposed to both market volatility and managerial skills. It can be said that it is a highly flexible and very flexible workforce.accessible, mainly because its members lack the protections accorded to "primary" workers, whether through organization, legislation, or mere custom (Berger and Piore 1980; Goldthorpe 1984). The recognition of an emerging dualism in this sense does not necessarily imply the acceptance of current theories, Marxist or not, of dual labor markets or systematically segmented and differentiated by level of qualification, salary or mobility. But it underscores the error of assuming that upgrading at the stage of advanced industrialism occurs equally in all aspects of employment.

2.2. Class structure changes

As shown above, there is a close connection between the course of long-term structural changes for both liberal and Marxist theorists.

[4] It should be noted that in BellThe advent of post-industrial society- SubtitledA bet on social forecastingand published in 1973, the index contains only three indicators of unemployment, and each of them turns out to be quite trivial.


of employment in Western societies and the development of their class structure. It is to be expected, therefore, that to the extent that explanations given for changes in the structure of employment are questioned, analyzes at the level of class structure will also be undermined. However, although the structure of labor relations – along with the structure of property relations – can be seen as the matrix of the class structure, so to speak, the actual derivation of the class structure is much less straightforward.

To begin with the Marxist case, it has already been established that to deny the idea of ​​a comprehensive and progressive degradation of work required by the logic of capitalism is not to deny that the degradation of specific types of work for specific periods of time through a is characteristic of modern economies. Thus, there seems to be enough evidence to support the arguments advanced by Marxists (and others) that a wide range of white-collar occupations, particularly clerical, sales, and personal service occupations, are now hardly distinguishable in their relationships and conditions. work Different profession - Handbook of professions. So, what must be questioned in the Marxist position is the additional assertion, or simply the assumption, that this degradation of manual work can be equated with a process of proletarianization that preserves, if not increases, the numerical strength of the working class of today. .

What is obviously neglected here is the question of the proper unity of class structure, and therefore of class analysis. In the tradition of such Marxist and non-Marxist analysis, the family has been seen as the proper unit rather than the individual (see Goldthorpe 1983). And it should be noted that, as long as this view is held, the impact on the class structure of recent changes in the character of white-collar employment cannot be considered as dramatic as Marxist theorists suggest. In all modern societies, the expansion of menial white-collar occupations has come about largely through increased employment of women, and women now predominate in these occupations. But when concerned authors considered the importance of these changes in class structure, they focused on the fact that an increasing number of women in white-collar occupations are married to workers, and took this as further evidence of working-class consolidation. , as the distinction between white-collar and manual employment is steadily blurring. As Braverman (1974, 353) puts it, office and factory workers are not only increasingly recruited from similar sources, but increasingly 'are being merged into the same living family'. However, what is overlooked is the importance of


the additional fact that, although many women in lower white-collar positions are married to workers, more generally seem to be married to men in higher white-collar positions, and that it is the latter women who create major difficulties for labor claims. proletarianization.[5]Why, it may be asked, should women who do unskilled white-collar work, but who are married to professionals, administrators or managers, and therefore share a substantial part of their standard and lifestyle, be considered proletarians of any kind? any type? women in similar occupations? Who is married to the workers?[6]

Of course, it might be objected that in societies where the majority of married women are somewhere in the labor force, the family should no longer be considered the unit of class analysis, but rather the class position of women. infer that of their husbands, as a result of their own paid work. This argument has been very strong among radical feminists concerned with demonstrating the sexism inherent in the conventional view (eg, Delphy 1981; Stanworth 1984). However, what its exponents have so far failed to show is that an analytical or explanatory advantage can be drawn from this, namely, when married women are systematically given class positions with reference to their own paid employment, their own work becomes more intelligible. class identifications or, say, their way of life and standards of sociability or their political commitment. Indeed, if the question of married women's class identity were taken seriously, the results would suggest that wives themselves (and not just "sexist" sociologists) derive their class position from their husbands' jobs, not their own (Jackman and Jackman 1983, 140). -52; Hernes and Knudsen 1985). Rather than the expansion of degraded and largely feminized white-collar work, leading to mass proletarianization and therefore presumably greater potential for radical socio-political action, the performance of such work by many married people, who nevertheless still lead

[5] For example, data on married women aged 20 to 64 living in England and Wales (samples from the 1983 UK General Election Survey) show that of all women whose current or most recent employment was usually a side job (N = 301), 45% were married to men in professional, administrative and managerial positions, against only 27% who were married to blue-collar workers. The husbands of the remaining 28% worked in common trades or were small business owners, self-employed artisans, foremen and supervisors or technicians.

[6] Braverman (1974, 130) seems to sense the weakness of his argument here, citing Crozier's (1971) observation that "the proletarianization of employees does not have the same meaning when it comes to women and not heads of households, who most of the group do. But instead of offering a serious response, he simply launches a disturbing attack on Crozier for "enjoying to use women as that category of workforce for which any job is good enough."


their class identity as husbands in higher positions can be an important stabilizing influence within the modern class structure.[7]

Moreover, the simple equating of the degradation of non-manual work with proletarianization, even if the focus is on men, is once again disturbed by the neglect of another quite different problem: the differentiation of apparently similar activities according to the characteristics of the workers. .individuals who do occupy. While the distinction between "jobs" and "people" is crucial to class analysis, it should not impede recognition that employing organizations can and do direct different types of employees to essentially similar job functions and assignments, but in contexts of very different work. stories or previews. Studies of office work in particular have shown that although women are expected to remain in low-level jobs, men who are in office jobs at any given time can be divided into two categories: those who tend to work up to later, those from blue-collar jobs to occupations with few further prospects, and those, generally younger and better educated, who spend time in white-collar jobs early in their careers that they and their employers believe will eventually lead to them to managerial or managerial positions (Goldthorpe 1980; Stewart, Prandy, and Blackburn 1980). Even if men in both categories do routine unskilled work, it does not follow that both cases are examples of mass proletarianization: these men were formerly simply wage workers or worked mainly in jobs that are for them intermediate stages on the road to success. higher. levels of bureaucratic structures.

In short, claims of full proletarianization fail because workers in the growing range of degraded or low-skill white-collar occupations are not, as Braverman would say, a "great crowd." On the contrary, they form a labor force highly differentiated by sex, age and qualification, which clearly delineates the influence of the growth of this labor force in the shape of the class structure.

[7] This suggestion is supported by the finding of a recent UK study that the association between a married woman's political partisanship and her class position, as measured by her own employment, is weaker than that between her partisanship and His.Husbandclass position, and that once the latter variable is controlled for, introducing a woman's own class into the analysis does not add any significant additional contribution to explaining her partisanship (Marshall, et al. 1988, ch. 5). Of course, it is always possible that a larger sample size will show a significant, albeit small, effect, but such an effect can be eliminated if the woman's education is also taken into account. The results, reported by Jackman and Jackman and Hernes and Knudsen, suggest that education has a much greater impact on a woman's sociopolitical orientations than does employment.


Returning to the position of the liberal theorist, then, the awareness that employment structure is not directly "mapped" to class structure should lead one to question the seriousness of his understanding of class structure change, failure, widespread deterioration of labor market conditions in western capitalism after the end of the "long boom". It could even be argued that his contempt for rising unemployment figures matters little in this respect, since the unemployed do not form a class; or even that the growth of a secondary labor force of men and women in atypical occupations will have little impact on the class structure, insofar as women are at least themselves the second breadwinner in families and households, and have other sources of economic income and social income. support the identity - the one who offers his work. Such arguments are not without force, and it must be said that, whatever weaknesses there may be in the liberal account, the tendency towards working class contraction and wage expansion which it emphasizes is more consistent with the available evidence than with the liberal theory. , the opposing trends predicted by Marxist theories. However, radically changed circumstances in labor markets still reveal several ways in which liberal notions of the emerging class structure are seriously inadequate.

For example, although the unemployed do not represent a class, it is becoming increasingly clear that a significant increase in the number of long-term unemployed, as found in the UK, leads to a polarization of the working class in terms of income. , life opportunities and lifestyles.[8]Thus, contrary to liberal expectations, the scope of economic and social inequality has increased significantly, not decreased. While workers in atypical jobs are often second earners who are drawn into the labor market in part by the availability of such jobs (married women working part-time, young people working part-time or partially retired, etc.), this it's because that doesn't always mean the case. Most obviously, in weak labor markets, substandard jobs are accepted simply because nothing better is available. Therefore, to the extent that this job constitutes the main source of economic subsistence for the family, the formation of an “underclass” is even more encouraged.

Finally, it should be noted that the tougher economic conditions that followed the long boom may have been accompanied by an increase in the number of small and self-employed entrepreneurs. The work processes here are varied and complex: self-employment can be an attempt to escape unemployment, some atypical jobs

[8] The issue of working-class polarization in several British studies in recent years. See, for example, Hamnett 1984; Pahl 1984; Halfpenny, Laite and Noble 1985; Goldthorpe and Payne 1986.


in fact, for those who adopt them, who impose self-employment, small employers often play a fundamental role in the organization of secondary work, such as subcontracting, etc. What is clear, however, is that liberal – and indeed Marxist – expectations that the importance of such “independents” would steadily diminish in modern economies have not been confirmed, and the notion that the petty bourgeoisie is a society in decline or transitional class now seems anachronistic in many Western societies (Berger and Piore 1980; Bechhofer and Elliot 1981; Scase 1982).[9]

23. Changes in social mobility

With regard to class mobility, it has already been noted that liberal and Marxist theorists differ fundamentally in nature and extent. For liberals, the mobility of individuals between different class positions is a central process of the "social metabolism" of industrialized nations; For Marxists, mobility occurs on an insignificant scale, except in the form of collective – and downward – movement associated with the degradation of work and proletarianization. From this perspective, the issue is not difficult to decide: there is an overwhelming body of evidence that agrees with the liberal point of view, but makes the Marxist position untenable.

For example, Carchedi's assertion that "in general, a member of the working class remains a member of the working class" is clearly contradicted by research findings on mobility, which show that within the population of advanced Western industrial societies, between 20 and 30 per cent of which the children of workers are regularly in entirely different class positions (ie clerical, commercial, managerial or self-employed) - and that this proportion is constantly increasing. Mobility research also shows that around 20% of men with this background who started their working lives as workers are likely to leave that job later.[10]Furthermore, one can see that the idea of ​​mass proletarianization of lower-level officials is also undermined by the tendency

[9] As Berger and Piore's work makes clear, the Italian case is particularly important in this regard. See also, for example, Brusco 1982; Bagnasco and Trigilia 1984.

[10] Here I draw on the results of work currently being carried out in collaboration with Robert Erikson as part of the CASMIN project (Comparative Analysis of Social Mobility in Industrial Nations) at the Institute of Social Sciences at the University of Mannheim, funded by the Volkswagenwerk Foundation. Data from national surveys carried out in the early to mid-1970s were systematically recoded to generate generally highly comparable information on rates and patterns of class mobility across different industrial societies. This document mainly refers to results from France, West Germany, Great Britain, Sweden and the United States. (For more detailed reports, see Erikson and Goldthorpe, 1985a, 1985b, 1987.)


as already mentioned, for younger men who will be promoted as part of a more or less planned career of routine office work and sales. In addition, there is also considerable upward mobility in this type of work, of a more contingent nature, for example linked to a change of employer. It can be estimated that in Western societies today, men who start their working lives in routine office and sales jobs have more than a one in three chance of being promoted to technical, administrative or managerial positions; and this probability increases to approximately one in two for males from non-manual classes. The relevance of a point I made elsewhere is clear: "That's allit worksthat degrades andindividualsthat they are proletarianized; and where high mobility prevails, the first process by no means implies the second” (Goldthorpe 1985b, 189 [my translation], emphasis in original; cf. Gagliani 1981).

While there is no lack of evidence to support the liberal claim that the degree of class mobility in industrial societies is considerable, this does not mean that liberal explanations of mobility patterns or trends -or the sources of change in them- should be accepted as they are. . In fact, based on the results of the mobility survey, these representations could turn out to be seriously wrong. The fundamental error is that liberal theorists took the clear evidence of increasing rates of upward mobility, which they themselves argued to be expected from expansion at the highest levels of the class structure, and then interpreted this evidence as pointing to greater openness or fluidity. social choice, which they believe is required by the logic of industrialism and which they believe arises through an emphasis on achievement rather than imputation of social choice. Furthermore, they felt supported in such an interpretation by additional evidence of a "firm link" between educational and professional achievement, or, in other words, by what could be seen as evidence of the growing importance of the principle of merit. What is overlooked here, however, is the possibility that increasing rates of social advancement are not only favored by change in the form of the class structure, but are due almost entirely to such structural changes and hence little or no change in the class structure. opening is required. . course or fluency. In fact, it is this last interpretation, and not the one presented by the liberal authors, that confirms the research findings. Contrary to liberal expectations that the advance of industrialism should lead to a steady weakening of the association between individuals' class origins and their eventual class fate, this association has proven to be remarkably stable - once one takes into account the effects of structural changes - both over time and over time. countries. That is, although actual observed mobility rates vary greatly within the experiences of industrialized nations,


This variation is largely structural, and there seems to be much similarity in the underlying "mobility regimes" or "patterns of social fluidity" (Featherman, Lancaster Jones, and Hauser 1975; Grusky and Hauser 1984; Erikson and Goldthorpe 1985b). . , 1987). Some examples of fluidity that increased over time can be cited, but rather than illustrating an inherent trend in industrialism, it seems better to interpret them as episodes arising from the specific historical circumstances of particular nations (Simkus 1981; Goldthorpe and Portocarero 1981; Erikson 1983). ; Erikson, Goldthorpe and Portocarero 1983).

Thus, as soon as the idea of ​​a general openness movement is rejected, other aspects of the liberal explanation of class mobility in industrial societies are also called into question. If the observed increases in mobility are predominantly the result of structural changes, there no longer seems to be any good reason to believe that societies have become more mobile in the past or in the future in parallel with their economic development. While economic development is naturally associated with structural changes that clearly affect class mobility, the historical record suggests that this relationship is complex, leading to fluctuations in mobility rates rather than unidirectional changes (Goldthorpe 1985a).

Again, it must follow that, in the absence of greater fluidity, the increase in upward intergenerational mobility towards the expanding upper levels of the class structure that liberals have emphasized will be accompanied by a decrease in downward mobility from these levels. And, indeed, empirical findings show that what I have elsewhere called the 'service class' of modern industrial societies, i.e., the class of servants, clerks and managers (Goldthorpe 1982; cf. also Renner 1953; Dahrendorf 1964) , is not only growing steadily, but also increasing the intergenerational stability of constituent families.[11]Furthermore, the decline in downward mobility also implies less diversity in the social backgrounds of those at the lower levels of the class structure, and this trend, along with decreasing emigration from the agricultural sector, has affected the composition of the working class of modern industry. Societies in ways that are neglected in liberal environments: namely, they are increasingly self-recruited.[12]Simultaneously

[11] Results from the CASMIN project suggest that men born into military-class families during the first two decades of the 20th century typically had a three in five chance of being "successful in the service". while that chance increased to about two in three for men born into such families over the next two decades.

[12] CASMIN results show that, in the mid-1970s, the proportion of the industrial working class - understood as salaried manual workers - belonging to at least the "second generation" was 75% in Great Britain, around 65 % in the Federal Republic. from Germany and 50 percent in West Germany percent in France, Sweden and the United States. However, it is in these last three countries that the proportion of second-generation workers has increased most in the recent past.


At the same time, the growing link between education and work – the supposed consequence of meritocracy – means that decisive mobility away from the working class is now more often achieved before entering the workforce than during the course of it. And if these two developments are considered together, then the collectivity that actually occupies positions in the working class at any given time might be expected to comprise a sizable and growing core of those that are really "hereditary" and "future." life members” (Goldthorpe 1980, 1985b).

Finally, the notion that the increased importance of education in determining employment opportunities indicates the prevalence of merit-based social selection is questioned even in the absence of evidence of a concomitant increase in fluidity. In this case, the alternative hypothesis is proposed that training simply replaces the previous determinants of mobility or immobility processes without producing a significant change in results, so that, as one commentator has said, these processes really are. in which attributed strengths find ways to express themselves as 'achievements'” (Halsey 1977, 184; see also Parkin 1974; Halsey, Heath, and Ridge 1980).

In summary, then, although trends in the rates and patterns of class mobility in modern industrial societies may well have had a stabilizing effect, as liberals have argued, their explanation of how this effect occurred has very limited acceptability. as it points to greater opportunities for promotion as a result of the change in class structure. There is no evidence that modern societies in general have become more fluid, whether through the application of more powerful social selection criteria or otherwise, or that these societies have experienced progressive class collapse. Recruitment to expand classes of service was necessarily broad, but these classes are now in the process of consolidation; and the working classes, though shrinking, become more and more homogeneous, at least as regards the social origin of their members.

Thus, even if a secular decline in the propensity to develop collective identities based on class and collective action can be identified (which may be debatable; see Bottomore 1982; Korpi 1983; Heath, Jowell, and Curtice 1985), there is little reason to recognize this decline in Based on Blau and Duncan, it can be attributed to the inhibition of class formation due to the increasing openness of western industrial societies. If an explanation is to be given in structural terms - and not primarily


in relation to the organization and strategies of labor movements (Esping-Andersen 1985; Przeworski 1985), it would be more plausible to refer to the divisions that have arisen within the contemporary working class through developments that, as already mentioned, liberal scenarios visibly overlook: the growth of atypical forms of employment, the dualization of labor markets and the return of mass unemployment.

3. Social theories, historicism and historiography

Why, then, do liberal and Marxist theories, when compared with the results of systematic empirical research, seem so inadequate as a basis for understanding long-term trends in class stratification in Western societies? The answer I would like to give at the most general level is the following: that these theories do not reach the social processes they deal with because a historical trait persists in their conception and application. They are theories that arise from the ultimate ambition to gain some cognitive understanding of the trajectory of historical development, which can then be used for normative and political purposes: that is, to show that certain political beliefs, values, and obligations have an "objective" superiority. in being favored by the movement of history, and that others can be "rightly" discarded as historically obsolete.

The serious logical—and also moral—deficiencies of such historicist efforts have become clear enough at least since Popper's (1944-45, 1945) devastating attacks on the claims of classical Marxism and the theory of social evolution. Since then, historicism has been driven underground, so to speak; but, as I have tried to show elsewhere (Goldthorpe 1971, 1979; see also Goldthorpe 1972), it has retained a powerful appeal to many social scientists, particularly those aspiring to the higher status of "intellectual" and beyond within the liberal field. as well as within the Marxist camp.

Not only does Carchedi (1977, 17) speak of a more or less orthodox Marxist form of "dialectical determination" as "the mechanism linking one stage of the development of capitalism to another", but also Kerr and his collaborators ([1960] 1973 , ch. 1 and 2), which expressly modeled itself on Marx's quest for the 'laws of motion' of capitalist society to establish a developmental logic of industrialism (see also Kerr 1983, chapter 1). Other theorists have been more cautious, but mainly, it seems, to try to gain the political advantages of a historicist position while guarding against the most obvious objections to it.


an attitude. Wright (1985, 114-18), for example, rejects the idea of ​​the “iron laws of history” and no longer sees the stages of class relations as a succession of “historical possibilities”, but would like to assert, however, : without trying to explain why it should be, that "the general course of historical development" is inherently "progressive". Or, Blau and Duncan, while pursuing purely descriptive and analytical goals, still base their definitive interpretation and assessment of long-term changes in the stratification process on the central tenet of Talcott Parsons' "neo-evolutionism", namely: that "a tendency fundamental to the spread of universalism characterizes industrial society" (Blau and Duncan 1967, 429; see also Parsons 1951, 480-535; Parsons 1964, 1966).

Following Popper, it can be argued that historicist theories always end up disappointing when compared to the historical record, being flawed by a fundamental misunderstanding: namely, their proponents fail to recognize that claims in any science can be either theoretical or historical. , but not both at the same time. Hence their hope of "theorizing" the movement of history is initially in vain. However, from today's perspective, it may still be instructive to consider the shortcomings that most directly undermine analyzes of social change carried out from essentially historicist positions.

First of all, it cannot be ignored that, in fact, there is a rather obvious illusion. Marxists clearly want progressive proletarianization, or liberals increasingly equal opportunities, to empower believers, confuse their political enemies, and defend their own beliefs and values. Logically, within a historicist program, political commitment must derive from a correct appreciation of the direction in which historical development fits; but psychologically, attachment often seems to dictate which view of history is to be presented as correct. So obviously such a view is inadequate to recognize, let alone look for, evidence that speaks against favored development scenarios. For it is much more than an intellectual construct: historicism makes it difficult to accept Popper's advice that we should be willing to let our ideas die for us.

In addition, however, there are also shortcomings that result directly from the structure of the historicist argument itself. What is more serious here is the insufficient attention given to the so-called microsociological bases, that is, the way in which the postulated trends of large-scale and long-term change must actually occur at the level of social action (Nisbet 1969 , 233). . It is characteristic of historicist theories of social change - and indeed


Essential to their author's project of historical theory is that they focus on identifying a central source of dynamics that is, as it were, "embedded" in the overall process of historical development and propels it from one stage to another. In Marxist theories, this dynamic is usually seen as a consequence of the contradictions that arise between the forces and relations of production; in liberal theories, this dynamic arises from the constantly renewed and reforming demands of technological change and economic rationality. In other words, the focus is on what are considered sequential "system needs" that must be followed by specific responses; and how these needs are then experienced and taken into account by social actors are only of secondary importance. For if a historicist theory is accepted as valid, then the patterns of social action involved in its realization are mere epiphenomena. If analysis reaches the level of social action, it need do so only for illustrative and perhaps political purposes. Thus, for Marxists, the progressive degradation of jobs by employers and their managers is a necessary response to technological advances that occur within the constraints of the capitalist mode of production and serves to reveal its inhuman character; For liberals, the emergence of meritocratic methods of social selection is dictated by the universalist logic of modern industrial society and shows how this offers ever-increasing opportunities for talent development.

However, of course, there is the difficulty here that, if the theory is invalid, there is no reason to emphasize patterns of action and the underlying values ​​and motivations that are their supposed carriers. They may not be the dominant ones in determining social change; If they do exist, they can be fought against, overshadowed or subdued by a variety of other factors that the theory fails to explain. While economic pressures may lead some employers to reduce the size of jobs, others may survive by linking technological innovation to downsizing or reskilling their workforce, or by opting for strategies focused on transforming work relationships rather than transforming them. the content of work, and which have very different implications for workforce composition and class structure. While there is pressure in modern societies for increasingly merit-based educational and professional decisions, this does not negate the interests and factors that favor attribution, and the emergence of a more open and fluid society is by no means guaranteed. In short, theorists who give in to historicist temptations have become prisoners of remarkably more limited and simplified perspectives in their search for the key dynamics inherent in the movement of history, which can be seen not only as evasive but illusory perspectives on the processes of history. social transformation. change. .


and, in turn, try to maintain, at best, one-sided and, at worst, misleading representations of their real standards.[13]

Therefore, if we are to move on to a more satisfactory theoretical treatment of social change, class stratification, or any other aspect of social structure or social process, I would say that a prerequisite is to accept this historically and theoretically once and for all. . all. make no mistake It would mean two things. First, as social scientists, we must treat the historical record with respect. We must recognize it as independent of our theories of social change and not assume that these theories can somehow transcend it. There is no empirical area to which they can relate beyond this record, and without having established them as best we can in an area of ​​interest to us, we do not know what our theories are intended to explain. As Nisbet argued, “Between the study ofchange... youHistoryThere is evidently an unbreakable relationship as we descend from the empirical heights of abstractions, totalities and universals... Whatever the requirements of a social theory may be, the first requirements to be met are those of social reality, which we find only in the historical record" (1969) , 303-4).

Second, however, we must recognize that we cannot explain anything simply by following the path taken by historical development; there is no theory inherent in the course of history that we can discover and then, as it were, go back in history. Either understood as a sequence of events or as empirical lawslong-term,the historical record is, from the social scientist's point of view, and ato explain– or rather, a great source ofbe explained- but notto explain(cf. Gellner 1964, 20). This means, therefore, that the theories through which we seek to understand social change will not be historical (or evolutionary or developmental) theories; more precisely, it can be said that they will not be theories that incorporate claims about historical as opposed to analytic time. In the end, I would suggest that, like theories that deal with questions of social order and stability, they should be those that deal with human action, individual and collective, and its intended and unintended consequences.[14]In others

[13] From this perspective, a welcome recent development is the growing interest in giving macrosociology a better "micro" basis through the revival of rational choice theory. Particularly encouraging is the fact that such an approach must proceed from an acceptance of methodological individualism, which is itself a strong prophylactic against the slide into historicism, and that this approach has been adopted both by theorists with overtly liberal commitments (e.g., 1977 ; Olson 1982; Hechter 1983) and by others who still seem to want to be seen as such.Marxistzumindest (com B. Elster 1982, 1985; Przeworski 1985).

[14] In this respect (as in others), sociologists interested in long-term problems of social change could, I think, find useful guidance in the work of the "new" economic historians, whom they seem to have largely neglected. measure.


In other words, we must learn to take seriously the idea that "men write their own history". Of course, that doesn't stop us from acknowledging that they don't "do it their way"; What is excluded, however, is any notion, overt or covert, that history is ultimately done "behind people's backs" according to some intrinsic plan or ultimate goal.


Aberg, Runa. 1984. Industrial Relations. At thewellness in transition,Ed. Robert Erickson and Rune Aberg, 102-15. Stockholm: Prism.

Aberg, Runa. 1984b. The theories of work commitment and labor market dualism: a tentative empirical test.sociological research2.

Bagnasco, Arnaldo and Carlo Trigilia. 1984.Society and politics in the middle class. Dorsoduro, Italy: Arsenale Editrice.

Bechhofer, Frank and Brian Elliot, editors 1981.the petty bourgeoisie. London: Macmillan.

Bel, Daniel. 1967. Notes on the Post-Industrial Society.the public interest6:24–35.

Bel, Daniel. 1973The advent of post-industrial society. New York: Essential Books.

Berger, Suzanne and Michael Piore. 1980Dualism and discontinuity in industrial societies. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Blue, PM and OD Duncan. 1967The American occupational structure. Nova York: Willey.

Bottomore, Tom. 1982. The Political Role of the Working Class in Western Europe. At thesocial class and division of laborEdited by Anthony Giddens and Gavin Mackenzie, 265–75. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Boudon, Raymond. 1977.Perverse effects and social order. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France.

Braverman, Harry. 1974.Labor and monopoly capitalism. Nova York: Monthly Review Press.

Rough, Sebastian. 1982. The Emilian Model: Productive Decentralization and Social Integration.Cambridge Economics Magazine6:167–84.

Carchedi, G. 1977.For the economic identification of classes. Londres: Rouledge.

Clark, Colin. 1957.The conditions of economic progress.. 3d ed Londres: Macmillan.

Crompton, Rosemary e Gareth Jones. 1984employed proletariat. London: Macmillan.

Michael staff. 1971.The office worker's world. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Dahrendorff, Ralph. 1964. Recent changes in the class structure of European societies.StubbornnessWinter: 225–70.

(Video) The Theory of Modernity (A Comparison of Anthony Giddens and Ulrich Beck)

Delphi, Christina. 1981. Women in stratification studies. At theconduct feminist researchHelen Roberts edition 114–28. London: Rouledge.

Duncan, OD 1968. Social Stratification and Mobility. PTindicators of social change,edited by Eleanor B. Sheldon and Wilbert E. Moore, 675–719. New York: Russell Sage.

Get it, Jon. 1982. Marxism, Functionalism, and Game Theory.theory and society11:453–82.


Elster, Jon. 1985.understand marx. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Ericsson, Robert. 1983. Changes in social mobility in industrialized nations: the case of Sweden.Research on stratification and social mobility2:165–95.

Erikson, Robert and John H. Goldthorpe. 1985th. Are US rates of social mobility exceptionally high?european sociological journal1:1–22.

Erikson, Robert and John H. Goldthorpe. 1985b. Common Elements and Variations in Social Fluidity in Developed Nations: Some Preliminary Findings. CASMIN Working Paper 4.1, University of Mannheim.

Erikson, Robert and John H. Goldthorpe. 1987. Similarity and Variation in Social Fluidity in Industrialized Nations.european sociological journal3:54–77, 145–66.

Erikson, Robert, John H. Goldthorpe and Lucienne Portocarero. 1983. Intergenerational class mobility and the convergence thesis.british sociology magazine34:303–43.

Esping-Andersen, Like. 1985.policy against markets. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Featherman, David L, F Lancaster Jones and Robert M Hauser. 1975. Research Assumptions of Social Mobility in the United States: The Case for Occupational Status.Research in Social Sciences4:329–60.

Fuck you, Victor. 1968.the service economy. Nova York: National Bureau of Economic Research.

Gagliani, Giorgio. 1981. How many working classes?american sociology magazine87:259–85.

Gellner, Ernesto. 1964thinking and changing. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson.

GERSHUNY, Jay. 1983.Social innovation and division of labor. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Giddens, Anthony and Gavin Mackenzie, editors class and division of labor. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Goldthorpe, John H. 1971. Theories of Industrial Society.European Archives of Sociology12:263–88.

Goldthorpe, John H. 1972. Class, Status, and Party in Modern Britain.European Archives of Sociology13:342–72.

Goldthorpe, John H. 1979. Intelectuals and the Working Class in Modern Britain. Fuller Bequest Lecture, Universidade de Essex.

Goldthorpe, John H. 1980.Social mobility and class structure in modern Britain. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Goldthorpe, John H. 1982. On the Service Class: Its Origin and Future. At thesocial class and division of laboredit Anthony Giddens and Gavin Mackenzie 162–85. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Goldthorpe, John H. 1983. Women and Class Analysis: In Defense of the Conventional View.sociology17:465–88.

Goldthorpe, John H. 1984. The End of Convergence: Corporate and Dualistic Tendencies in Modern Western Societies. At theOrder and Conflict in Contemporary Capitalism,edition John H. Goldthorpe, 315–43. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Goldthorpe, John H. 1985a. On economic development and social mobility.british sociology magazine36:549–73.

Goldthorpe, John H. 1985b. Social mobility and class formation: renewing a tradition of sociological research. At theThe analysis of social inequality,edition


Hermann Strasser and John H. Goldthorpe, 174-204. Opladen, W. Gen.: West German Publishers.

Goldthorpe, John H. and Clive Payne. 1986. Trends in intergenerational class mobility in England and Wales, 1972–1983.sociology20:1–24.

Goldthorpe, John H. and Lucienne Portocarero. 1981. Social mobility in France, 1953-1970: a new survey.french sociology journal22:151–66.

Grusky, David B. and Robert M. Hauser. 1984. Revised Comparative Social Mobility: Patterns of Convergence and Divergence in 16 Countries.American Sociological Journal49:19–38.

Halfpenny, P.J., A.J. Laite und I. Noble. 1985.Blackburn and Darwen's job market. Manchester: University of Manchester, Center for Applied Social Research.

Halsey, A. H. 1977. Rumor à meritocracy? The case of Great Britain. nopower and ideology in education,Ed. Jerome Karabel e AH Halsey, 173–86. Nova York: Oxford University Press.

Halsey, A.H., Anthony Heath e J.M. Ridge. and goals. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Hamnett, C. 1984. Housing the Two Nations: Sociotenural Polarization in England and Wales, 1961–81.urban research43:389–405.

Heath, Anthony, Roger Jowell e John Curtice. 1985.How Britain votes. Oxford: Pergamonpresse.

Hechter, Michael, editor 1983.The microfoundations of macrosociology. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.

Hernes, Gudmund and Knud Knudsen. 1985. Gender and class identification in Norway. Paper presented to the Social Stratification and Mobility Research Committee of the International Sociological Association, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.

Jackman, Mary R. e Robert W. Jackman. 1983Class Consciousness in the United States. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Kerr, Clark. 1983.The future of industrial societies. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Kerr, Clark, John T. Dunlop, Frederick H. Harbison e Charles A. Myers. [1960] 1973.industrialism and industrial man. Rev. Hrsg. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

body, Walter. 1983The democratic class struggle. Londres: Rouledge.

Kuznets, Simon. 1966.modern economic growth. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Lockwood, David. 1981. The weakest link in the chain? Some remarks on the Marxist theory of action.Research in Sociology of Work1:435–81.

Marshall, Gordon, Howard Newby, David Rose e Carolyn Vogler. 1988.Social class in modern Britain. London: Hutchinson.

Michon, Francois. 1981. Dualism and the French labor market: business strategy, atypical forms of employment and parallel employment. At theThe dynamics of labor market segmentation,Ed. Frank Wilkinson, 81-97. Londres: Academic Press.

It jumped, Robert. 1969.Social change and history.. Nova York: Oxford University Press.


Olson, source. one thousand nine hundred and eighty-twoRise and Fall of Nations. New Haven: Yale University Press.

PAHL, Ray. 1984.division of work. Oxford: Blackwells.

Parkin, Frank, Hrsg. 1974.The social analysis of class structure.. Londres: Tavistock.

Parsons, Talcott. 1951.the social system. Glencoe, Illinois: Free Press.

Parsons, Talcott. 1964. Evolutionary Universals in Society.American Sociological Journal29:339–57.

Parsons, Talcott. 1966.Societies: Evolutionary and Comparative Perspectives. Englewood Cliffs, Nova Jersey: Prentice-Hall.

Penn, Roger and Hilda Scattergood. 1985. Desilling or Empowerment: An Empirical Study of Recent Work Process Theories.british sociology magazine36:611–26.

Popper, Charles. 1944-45. The poverty of historicism.Economically11:86–103, 119–37, 12:69–89.

Poppers, Carlos. 1945.the open society and its enemies. Londres: Rouledge.

Poulantzas, Nicos. 1974.Social classes in current capitalism. Paris: Threshold.

Przeworsky, Adam. 1985.capitalism and social democracy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Renner, Carlos. 1953.Changes in Modern Society: Two Treatises on Post-War Problems. Vienna: People's Bookshop of Vienna.

Dry, Ricardo. 1982. The Petty Bourgeoisie and Modern Capitalism. At thesocial class and division of laborEdited by Anthony Giddens and Gavin Mackenzie, 148–61. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Simkus, Albert A. 1981. Changes in occupational heredity under socialism: Hungary 1930–1973.Research on stratification and social mobility1:171–203.

Singleman, Joachim and H.L. Browning. 1980. Industrial transformation and career change in the United States, forces59:246–64.

Single, Joaquim and Marta Tienda. 1985. The career change process in a service society: the case of the United States, 1960-1980. At theNew approaches to business life,edição Bryan Roberts, Ruth Finnegan e Duncan Gallie, 48–67. Manchester: Manchester University Press.

STANDWORTH, Michelle. 1984. Women and Class Analysis: A Reply to John Goldthorpe.sociology18:159–70.

Stewart, A., K. Prandy e R. M. Blackburn. 1980.Social class and professions. London: Macmillan.

Treiman, Donald J. 1970. Industrialization and social stratification. At theSocial Stratification: Research and Theory for the 1970s,edition E.O. Laumann, 207-34. Indianapolis: Bobbs Merrill.

Wright, Eric Olin. 1976. Class Frontiers in Advanced Capitalist review left98:3–42.

Wright, Erik Olin. 1978.Class, Crisis and State. Londres: New Left Books.

Wright, Erik Olin. 1985.lessons. London: ca.

Wright, Erik Olin and Joachim Singleman. 1982. Proletarianization in Changing American Class Structure.american sociology magazine88 (supplement): 176–209.


Social change in the United States:
The system of equality and inequality

Ricardo Munch

1. Introduction: a theoretical model of change

In this chapter, I analyze the development of social systems of equality and inequality in the United States in terms of Parsonian theory of action. I plan that every system of equality or inequality in the communal, political, economic and cultural spheres -as long as it is stable and has a binding normative character for the members of society- has its roots in the traditional relations of equality or inequality between individuals and groups in society. It also has its roots in the traditional right to belong to society (civil rights), in the traditional everyday associations of individuals and groups, and in the traditional belief in the natural equality or inequality of human beings.

In my first section, on systems of equality and inequality in the United States, I offer a description of the system of equality of relationships, associations, rights, and beliefs among New England settlers. But I also show that the South established another traditional and normatively mandated model early on, a model of inequality in economic, political, cultural, and communal terms. The United States, therefore, rests on two contradictory traditions, one that promotes equality (in the sense of equal opportunity) and the other that promotes inequality. The conflict between these two traditions was an important factor that prevented the establishment of a social community that encompassed society as a whole. It also explains why American society has often been divided into different social groups.

My second guess is that the traditional system of equality in the colonies (and later states) of New England balanced the factors

Thanks to Neil Johnson for translating the original German version of this chapter.


of social growth: economic growth leads to economic differentiation and inequality, political growth leads to differential access to political decisions, cultural growth leads to cultural diversity and unequal evaluation of cultural ways of life, and associative growth leads to differentiation of society in different social groups. groups and minorities. A crucial factor in transforming New England's traditional system of equality into one of inequality was the continuing process of immigration of new ethnic, radical, religious, and national groups to the United States. This process led to a society of unequals in the midst of a cultural system in which the belief in equal opportunities persisted, even when this belief changed from a notion of absolute equality to an ideology that legitimized the oppression of failed minorities by the winning majority . . The Southern pattern of inequality was perpetuated by growing inequality in society, which reached a point where Southern culture began to dominate the national culture. The victory of the northern states in the civil war laid the foundations so that the Nordic idea of ​​equal opportunities could be successfully asserted in the course of social development, but it is in constant conflict with the culture of the south, which is becoming more and more important due to the current movement towards the solar belt.

My third assumption is that "unintended" factors in a society can mitigate inequality. These factors include economic prosperity, opportunities for political participation in local affairs, consistent formal education, and social inclusion. The third section will demonstrate how these factors work in the United States.

My fourth assumption is that there are voluntary actions in society that are motivated by the tension between the cultural idea of ​​equal opportunity and the social reality of inequality. The logic of cultural discourse leads some to take the idea of ​​equality to the extreme, claiming that any existing inequality is illegitimate and perverse. However, to the extent that other ideas, such as the idea of ​​individualism, are included in this discourse, the scope of the idea of ​​equality is limited. In the United States, the idea of ​​equality is limited to the idea of ​​equal opportunities.

In this context, I analyze the role of the Supreme Court in interpreting fundamental cultural ideas and its role in the transition from racial segregation to desegregation. I examine how discourse about cultural ideas has shaped the social system of equal/unequal relations. To the extent that cultural discourse intervenes in political decisions, it will be controversial and will need the support of dynamic forces, that is, social movements. The role of civil rights movements is of particular interest here. But policies aimed at equal opportunities also require financial resources, such as positive action programs. Absolutely nothing


however, everyday life will change if people do not accept this change and are unwilling to ally themselves with previously excluded groups. Therefore inclusion is necessary. School bus transportation can be interpreted as forced inclusion. The community membership level is the level where change occurs most slowly. But in the transition to greater equality, the new system takes on the character of a normatively binding system. The daily connection of younger generations in the education system is one factor that can foster a new belief in equality amidst the great cultural diversity that characterizes the United States today. The New England model of homogeneous peering can be replaced by heterogeneous peering.

2. The principle of equal opportunities

The 1776 Declaration of Independence states that all human beings are created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, including the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. In America, this idea of ​​human equality never developed into the idea of ​​socialism or communism. It has always been embraced along with the idea of ​​freedom and individualism. The communist ideal of "each according to his ability, each according to his needs", as formulated by Marx, never took root on American soil (Marx 1962:21).

The idea that everyone should receive the same rewards (income, power, prestige) regardless of their own individual achievement is anathema to Americans. The main American belief is that people are the architects of their own destiny. A fair distribution of social wealth without reference to individual achievements is an idea incompatible with such a belief. It deprives the individual of the right to take control of his own destiny. The Declaration of Independence does not speak of the equitable distribution of happiness, but of the equal right to pursue happiness (Ginsberg 1967; Eidelberg 1967; Murray 1964; Becker 1958). If the individual's happiness is mediated in some way by society or the state, then the individual has lost the right to pursue that happiness personally and to achieve it the more the more persistently he pursues it.

Equality, in this sense, means that no one can be prevented from pursuing happiness autonomously. Initially, this simply meant that laws that prohibited individuals or certain groups from undertaking missions were not allowed. Above all, this meant that state privileges should not deny anyone access to the market. Consequently, equality of opportunity was increasingly understood in the sense that the state refrained from intervening economically.


Competition in the sense of government intervention granting privileges to specific individuals or groups. The pursuit of happiness was understood primarily as a pursuit of wealth. As a rule, therefore, Americans spoke of three basic rights: to life, liberty, and property.

Equality in relation to freedom means that everyone has the same rights to freedom and everyone, in turn, can exercise it to a greater or lesser extent. Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. However, not everyone participates equally in the public debate and not all opinions are treated as equally correct. The same applies to freedom of assembly. Communities, which can be clubs, religious communities, scientific communities or political groups, cannot by law deny access to anyone. However, this does not mean that everyone actually becomes a member of these community groups. The only requirement is that membership be linked to qualifications that anyone can acquire. Everyone also has an equal right to political participation, even if not everyone participates effectively in political decision-making processes and not everyone has the same level of influence. First, individuals or groups simply cannot be excluded from such processes.

Likewise, the equal right to life does not categorically mean that no one should lose their life. The Fifth Amendment guarantees that no one can lose life, liberty or property without due process of law. The "equal guarantee of life" therefore means that, for example, the death penalty cannot be imposed on individuals arbitrarily and without the same procedure and must be reserved for the most serious crimes as well. Another aspect of the equal right to life is that it includes the right of everyone to equal police protection against crime and to ensure equal treatment of everyone in the drafting process. It is up to the individual to decide how safely they want to shape their lives within this broad framework, whether it be to gain more protection against illness or accident or to be satisfied with less. Life and liberty, therefore, are only guaranteed to each individual to the extent that each person has the right to preserve his life and fight for liberty. In achieving these objectives, no measure or a priori state law should lead to inequalities.

Thus, equality is interpreted as equality of opportunity in life, liberty, property, and happiness, but not as actual equality in the distribution of property, happiness, longevity, and freedom to do what one wants (Laslett and Lipset 1974; Lipset 1974). . The state is expected not to hinder people in their pursuit of these goods.


not to grant privileges to certain individuals over others. And the state is not expected to distribute goods equally. Such State interference would amount to the deprivation of the individual's right to the pursuit of life, liberty, property and happiness. State intervention would violate the principle of equal opportunities, as an equitable distribution of life's goods to all people, regardless of their effort and performance, would deprive the individual of the opportunity to perform better and thus acquire more of these goods. what brings happiness. Individual effort and achievement would be unevenly rewarded. Those who put in more effort and performance will be at a disadvantage compared to those who put in less effort.

In considering this radically individualistic conception of equal opportunity, of course, the underlying picture of society must be taken into account. This was an image of society as an association of independent landowners who had no fundamental difference in opportunities when competing to increase their property (Berthoff 1971). No one was excessively rich or excessively poor. Differences in income and wealth were limited to such an extent that there was no class conflict between the privileged and the disadvantaged. Some, of course, were more successful than others, but success or failure was purely a matter of fate and never a collective experience of separate classes, categories or strata.

Those who could not or were not allowed to compete for success were cared for within the family: women, children, the elderly, the infirm, the infirm, and of course, slaves. The whole philosophy of equal opportunities referred exclusively to economically independent citizens with voting rights. Although the exclusion of slaves from civil rights was a thorn in the side of the new society and also the center of criticism and criticism among liberals like Jefferson and Madison, it did not spoil the image of general equality of opportunity, because slaves, as well as women, children, the elderly and the sick were under the guardianship of a head of the family who could defend himself against competition.

In this context, a conception of equal opportunities was born in which the State only intervenes in a negative sense. The state was not allowed to intervene in competition between basically equal full citizens by granting privileges. If that were the case, it would have created inequality between those who would otherwise be equal. Equality of opportunity was ensured through the equal participation of male citizens in social competition. Under these circumstances, few could imagine that the State should take measures


stepping in to help those who had to compete with more limited resources and skills.

To this day, this "ultraliberal" philosophy of equal opportunity remains an integral part of American thinking. It forms the core of tough conservative opposition to state measures to actively create equal opportunities. While liberals today represent this activist state policy, especially in the area of ​​education policy, conservatives see the danger that individual freedom, personal responsibility, and initiative are eroded by paternalism and state surveillance. Conservatives take this position even though the conditions for equality of opportunity have fundamentally changed in the course of social development from what originally prevailed.

Along with these changes, the way Americans view the government's role in creating equal opportunity has also changed. More and more Americans see the work of the state as actively creating equality of opportunity (Berthoff, 1971). This is now a core liberal belief, and even conservatives are not fundamentally opposed to government intervention, although they would like to see it kept to low levels. However, this change in the role of the state does not mean a complete turn in favor of collectively establishing equality. Industrialization and the growing pluralism of racial, ethnic, and religious groups also failed to turn success or failure into a unified collective experience in mainstream public opinion. As always, success and failure are interpreted as individual fates. And with all the acceptance of government programs to create equal opportunity, these programs are understood primarily as promoting people, not as a means of equalizing goods.

While there is now agreement on an active role for the state in creating equal opportunities, the expected role of the state is largely limited to leveling the playing field for the race to succeed. This role of the state applies equally, regardless of whether it is to ensure equality in the community, economic, political or cultural sphere.

Municipal equality means that everyone can join others and enter into social relationships with everyone on an equal footing. There are no exclusive communities into which some are admitted, perhaps by birth, and there is no hierarchy of estates with different rights. In the sense of equal opportunities, equality in this field implies that no one can de jure be refused admission to associations of municipalities. However, this does not mean that everyone can establish de facto community relationships everywhere.


and with everyone else. The fact that there is openness in social relations and belonging to associative groups does not mean that people without prior qualification can join. However, it does imply that the eligibility criteria should be defined in such a way that no one is excluded by birth. Not everyone can register with the Bar Association, but everyone who has acquired the necessary professional qualifications should be able to do so. More specifically, social equality means having the same opportunities to meet other people, participate in everyday social relationships, develop a lifestyle and meet in public places such as restaurants, shopping malls, sporting events, theaters, etc.

Economic equality means that everyone shares in society's material wealth and that no one is excluded from economic opportunities. In terms of equal opportunities, it is important to ensure that everyone can participate in the race for economic success and that no one is denied de jure participation. In particular, government guarantees of economic privileges are prohibited. What is not covered by this concept of economic equality is the actual equitable distribution of material goods. Anyone can compete in the market, but the success achieved may not be the same in all cases. Specific aspects of equal economic opportunity are equal pay for equal performance, equal opportunities in accessing employment and acquiring professional qualifications, and compensation for disadvantages through insurance and social benefits.

Political equality must be understood as equality in the choice and application of collective decisions. No one is left out of the process and no one is given privileges. In terms of equal opportunities, what matters here is the opening of the political process to all who want to put themselves in a position to exercise political authority, but not the fact that political decision-making powers are actually fairly distributed. In concrete terms, equality of political opportunity includes equal opportunities for political participation and consultation in political matters, laws that are equal and equally applied to all, and equal treatment of all by the administration and the police.

Cultural equality should be interpreted as equal rights to participate in society's cultural discourses. Equality of opportunity in this context means that everyone has an equal opportunity to make their own contribution to cultural discourse, but not all arguments are equally valid. Some of the individual aspects inherent in cultural equality are equal opportunities to participate in intellectual debates, access educational institutions, obtain education, and participate in professional functions.


In all these dimensions of equality, America has gone through a far-reaching process of development. Initially, social equality in New England coexisted with great inequalities in the southern states. Industrialization, discrimination against blacks and other minorities, and immigration from different groups led to a society with significant inequalities that contradicted the idea of ​​equality. Today's liberalism aims to address the widening gap between the idea of ​​equality and the reality of inequality. The negative definition of equal opportunities, in which the state refrains from participating in the process of free competition, speaks of an approach in which the state is given an active role in creating equal opportunities.

3. The idea of ​​equality and social inequality in America

From the beginning, the New England states radiated the strongest aura of social equality, even if it applied only to religiously qualified male citizens. Especially in Massachusetts' early years, a sharp line was drawn between those who had and those who did not have adequate religious credentials. However, over time, the distinction was increasingly abandoned. In Connecticut and Rhode Island, all adult males were assimilated into religious and political communities. The full citizens of this society were farmers, merchants, lawyers, doctors and preachers, all independent and relatively wealthy (Berthoff 1971). This society of citizens of equal status and rights differed fundamentally from the European societies of the time, still divided into estates, classes and strata, each with very different rights and each with its own conscience as the collective destiny of the community. This social equality was one of the first features Tocqueville noticed when he visited the New England states:

But all the immigrants who settled on New England shores belonged to the wealthy back home. When they found themselves on American soil, they represented from the beginning the unusual phenomenon of a society in which there were no great lords, nor common people and, one could almost say, neither rich nor poor. (Tocqueville [1835-1840] 1966)

Members of this society were Puritans. The religious bond between them and the common awareness that they lived by the idea of ​​a religiously ordered society strengthened their sense of social equality in a very special way.

Later, at the time of the founding of the United States, Thomas Jefferson also considered basic equality essential to the proper functioning of the Constitution. he believed that the individual


The enjoyment of equal rights was best preserved in a society of independent peasants. Initially, he was skeptical of the development of large-scale industry because it created a class of dependent wage workers who could not autonomously claim their own rights. However, he later had to admit that the United States could not do without industrial development because of its economic strength.

Immigrants from the southern colonies had a different character and came to America for different reasons than immigrants from the north. Although some settlers had religious motives, settlement in Virginia was carried out primarily for economic reasons. The introduction of slavery in the 1620s and the development of large-scale plantation operations created a different society in the south. Equality only applied to a relatively small ruling stratum of large plantation owners who tried to imitate aristocratic relations. In the South, a clear distinction soon emerged between the upper and lower classes, making inequality both a ubiquitous feature of society and a collectively experienced phenomenon. For example, social relations were basically the same in the North, but paternalistic and authoritarian in the South (Tocqueville [1835-40] 1966; Berthoff 1971; Dollard [1937] 1957; Graven 1949; Gray 1958; Morgan 1975; Ratner, Soltow and Sylla 1979; McGill 1963).

The North-South contrast in the formation of social relations is still visible today and can be seen in all areas, whether between farmers or industrialists and their employees, politicians and their constituents, or teachers and their students. This discrepancy, combined with differences in interest between northern industry and southern plantations, was the basis on which the civil war of 1861-1865 was fought. It still represents a fundamental contradiction today, as has become clear as a result of the policy of desegregation adopted by the Supreme Court and Congress since the late 1950s. The conflict went so far that some Southern governors, such as George Wallace of Alabama, decided to openly opposed Supreme Court desegregation decisions (Wilson 1980).

Today, Southern blacks continue to be socially excluded wherever possible, despite federal policies and federal courts, and are treated, at least informally, as second-class citizens. Immigrants from Latin America, especially from Mexico, whose numbers are increasing every day, receive similar treatment.

Therefore, social equality remains an ideal, especially in the north of the country. Inequality is much more evident in the South, where dominant public opinion among the privileged seeks to perpetuate inequality. The Democratic Party had to


enforce all of its civil rights and welfare policies in the 1960s and 1970s not so much against the Republican Party as against stubborn opposition from its own representatives in the South, who rejected the policy on principle (Wilson 1980). Therefore, the North-South divide remains a constant threat to community cohesion.

Developments in the north also brought about fundamental changes to the original society of equal landowners. At the time of the founding of the United States, there were disagreements between the farmers and the owners of capital, that is, merchants and bankers. However, it is an exaggeration to derive the form and content of the American constitution from these different interests, which are not the same at all points, as Charles A. Beard tried to see the constitution as the domain of capitalist interests (Beard [ 1913] 1968 ). This hypothesis is not supported by facts and certainly does not find confirmation in the interests of the founders of the constitution (Brown 1956; Wilson 1980).

Widespread changes have occurred with the development of industrial capitalism and its corporations, and with ongoing revolutionary changes in technology, communications and services. Another crucial factor that led to important changes was the immigration of very different racial, ethnic and religious groups. Immigration flows peaked in the early decades of the 20th century, but declined after annual immigration quotas were established for certain groups in 1924. Since then, the influx of Latino and Southeast Asian immigrants has increased dramatically, particularly in the South and west .

The United States today includes a wide variety of racial, ethnic, religious, and socioeconomic groups. This heterogeneity is the exact opposite of the original social homogeneity in the New England colonies. In Manhattan today, the East Side and West Side, yes, the Upper and Lower East Side, Harlem, Little Italy and Chinatown are worlds apart. One can also mention the Puerto Rican neighborhoods and those that were colonized by more recent immigrants from Southeast Asia and Latin America (although the latter are not represented in numbers as in the South and West). Los Angeles is now on the verge of exploding under pressure from various racial, ethnic, religious, and socioeconomic strata among immigrants (Glazer and Moynihan [1963] 1970; Gordon 1964; Mindel and Habenstein 1976; Turner 1984; Turner, Singleton, and Musick 1984 ).

What does social equality mean under such conditions? It no longer means that everyone lives in similar conditions and that everyone can relate to everyone else. Only in Latin America is there a distinction as striking as that between Harlem and the neighboring country.


Upscale neighborhood on the Upper East Side. The different groups practically live like a ghetto in their own neighborhood. Is there still a municipal association between citizens of equal rank? Certainly not. The closest approximation today is that everyone eats their hamburgers at McDonald's, Burger King or Howard Johnson's. However, this is not social eating, it is simply the result of converting food for mass consumption. Socializing is still practiced over dinner in French, Chinese, Italian, Greek and German restaurants, but in these situations one is among one's own friends.

Has a qualitatively new social community emerged from the American melting pot with its own identity? Did new immigrant groups adapt to dominant Anglo-American values? Or is society composed of a multitude of relatively separate racial, ethnic, religious, and socioeconomic groups living side by side? (See Bannister 1972.) The answer, at least in its general trend, is the third alternative of coexisting but unequal group pluralism. Along with blacks (Rainwater 1970; Pettigrew 1975; McCord, Howard, Friedberg, and Harwood 1969), the group of recent immigrants has always constituted the economically lowest class: first Irish Catholics, then other Catholics from southern or eastern Europe (mainly Italians). and Poles), Asians and Puerto Ricans, and finally Mexicans and other Latin American groups.

The Germans and some of the Jews (not the relatively poor New York Jews who lived in their ghetto) were exceptions to this immigration hierarchy. Thanks to their economic success and through their education, they were able to assimilate. Jews, in particular, are disproportionately represented in the more educated strata. In his case, assimilation into the social community was facilitated by his adoption of core American values ​​and, more importantly, the success that came from his zeal to succeed.

Of the other groups, Irish Catholics were the best at finding their way into the mainstream Anglo-American community. To some extent this is true of another large Catholic group, Italians, but not so much of Hispanics (Navarro 1971). There is a big difference between the Catholic Church in the North and its position in the South. In the North, it has indeed gained some respect in society, and respected families like the Kennedys serve as representatives of Catholicism in the North. In the South, however, the status of the church coincides with the disadvantaged position of the Hispanic groups it represents.

Under these conditions, social inequality is a collective experience. However, this experience has discontinuities. There is a marked socioeconomic situation


The stratification within ethnic and religious groups is more pronounced in relation to the number of generations of immigrants that make up the group. Given the increasing growth of immigration from Latin America and the regional concentration of that immigration in the South and West, Hispanics are now the most distinct and homogeneous disadvantaged strata of society (Wagenheim and Wagenheim 1973; Grebler, Moore, and Guzin 1970). Steiner 1970). ). They didn't have time to send their second and third generation to schools and universities. In a society where there is no large-scale collective welfare system to address social imbalances and where competition for economic success is everything, Hispanics and others like them inevitably form an army of poor people, often living below the poverty line. America today is a society of inequality. In this sense, it is radically and diametrically opposed to its New England origins (Myrdal 1994; Kahl [1953] 1967; Coleman 1966; Blau and Duncan 1967; Jencks et al. 1972; Collins 1979; Zeitlin [1970] 1977).

The difference between the highest and lowest income levels is greater in the United States than in other developed countries. The lowest income groups and lowest wage occupations are predominantly dominated by the most disadvantaged minorities, namely blacks, Puerto Ricans, Mexicans and other Hispanic groups. In the same job, minorities earn less, on average, than their white counterparts (Kaufmann 1983; Reimers 1984). And despite the unified educational system, professional qualifications vary greatly by race. The most immediate reason for this is that the quality of education provided is very unevenly distributed, with disadvantaged minorities ending up with the lowest quality education. In addition, the social network is relatively underdeveloped. Anyone who falls ill, loses the ability to work, becomes unemployed or abandons professional life is among the poorest in society. Here, too, disadvantaged minorities carry the brunt.

In the field of politics, the existing inequality is no less striking. Political participation is more a matter of initiative and free association and less a concern for needs through large organized parties. Consequently, differences in eligibility levels resulting from different levels of education and income are particularly important. Political participation is in the hands of the educated classes (Almond and Verba 1963; Verba and Nie 1972). Likewise, the discussion of political issues in the media is clearly dominated by the educated Anglo-American classes. Not infrequently, especially in the South, formal equality before the law is undermined by informal inequalities in the assessment of legal cases and criminal offenses and in sentencing. The same tension between formal equality and


Informal inequality is reflected in the way authorities and police treat minorities. Black, Puerto Rican, and Hispanic individuals who deal with the police are more likely to encounter suspicion and hostility than their white counterparts (Mayhew 1968; Cicourel 1968; Cohen and Kluegel 1978; Terry 1967; Thornberry 1973, 1979).

In the cultural sphere, disparity is evident in Anglo-American dominance in religion, moral theory, arts, and scholarship. Other racial and ethnic groups occupy an extremely marginal position here. In such conditions, there are no traces of a cultural melting pot. For a long time, access to universities was very unevenly distributed. There are also significant differences in the quality of training. The lowest groups and strata show a disproportionately high attendance rate in the qualitatively poorest primary schools, colleges and universities. The professions have long been dominated by Anglo-Americans, and to the extent that disadvantaged minorities have actually entered the professions, they tend to occupy the lowest levels. One apparent exception to this trend is that Asian groups have had particular success entering the workforce recently. They also excelled at schools and universities disproportionately to their numbers (Collins 1979).

With respect to communal membership, a marked vertical differentiation of social prestige has developed in the United States since the 1960s. The last groups in the ranking are Puerto Ricans, Mexicans, other Hispanic minorities, and blacks. Above them are Asians and Eastern Europeans, especially Poles, then Italians, Anglo-Americans are in first place on the prestige scale. There are clearly defined social barriers between these groups. People marry within their own groups and develop new acquaintances and friendships only within the same boundaries. Clubs, associations and religious communities are also quite homogeneous in terms of ethnic composition. And when it comes to where they live, different groups come together in their own neighborhoods. For a black Harlem in Manhattan, the neighboring Upper East Side is further away in a communal sense than the moon. And in the South, public spaces were segregated until the 1960s. Although racial segregation is no longer official policy, racial and ethnic groups are collectively distributed quite neatly in different public places: different neighborhoods, hotels, restaurants, theaters and cinemas.

Huge differences are evident in the lifestyles of racial and ethnic groups, from living conditions and eating habits to family circumstances. There is a great discrepancy between the lifestyle of a wealthy Anglo-American family and the sad living conditions of the lower classes.


They belong to two different worlds. A social relationship between them on a common basis is unthinkable (Coleman and Rainwater 1979).

However, it would be hypocritical for a European to point out in a moralizing tone the stark contrast between the wealth of a majority and the poverty of a minority and how this contradicts the great idea of ​​equality in American society. No European country has ever had to deal with a comparable influx of heterogeneous immigrant groups. Currently, more than one million people immigrate to the United States each year (Anderson 1983). Furthermore, the situation is aggravated by the fact that most immigrants come from the poorest countries and penetrate the lower classes, thus contributing to the perpetuation of inequality.

4. In search of more equality

Even in the difficult conditions discussed above, one should not ignore the opposing forces working towards the realization of equal opportunities in society or underestimate the efforts being made in this direction. The economic prosperity that has prevailed for so long and the common pursuit of success must be seen as a counterbalance. Likewise, equal treatment with others in everyday communication and at least formal uniformity of the educational system.

Most inequalities in economic wealth in the United States do not take the form of a rich minority and a poor majority (eg, the contrast between rich capitalists and poor workers). Instead, they take the form of a rich majority and a poor minority (Potter 1954). This reality is at odds with standard theories of class inequality. In the ranks of the wealthy majority, general prosperity acts as a great leveler, which is expressed in equal participation in mass consumption. The pursuit of success is the common philosophy and the implementation of that success through consumption is the common practice.

Most families in this majority category have a family home in the suburbs, two cars, a color television, a dishwasher and a freezer. Family members dress luxuriously in the latest fashions, wear jeans, eat hamburgers at McDonald's, Burger King and Howard Johnson's, watch "E.T." and "Dallas" and vacations to places like Florida every year. In the United States, there has been a leveling of lifestyles through mass consumption. Such leveling has not been achieved in Europe. A family in which husband and wife both work has enough income to satisfy the most imaginable civic desires. To some extent, both the university professor and the newspaper


Corner sellers share this lifestyle and are much more equal than their European counterparts in this regard.

In everyday communication, Americans do not emphasize differences between higher and lower social classes. Senior executives are treated like ordinary citizens once outside their professional spheres. This is reflected in typical everyday interactions. Newspaper workers, for example, do not have a deferential attitude towards teachers, especially when they earn more than the teachers. In the professional field, differences in level are not automatically reflected in forms of treatment. The salesperson's attitude toward the sales manager is not one of subordination, nor does he adopt an authoritative attitude toward the salesperson. This equality in everyday relationships is emphasized by the common practice of communication between hierarchical levels using Duden (Collins 1979). In the occasionally embarrassing situation where the lower echelon feels that the difference is too great, they tend not to address each other directly to avoid embarrassment. For example, a student might avoid addressing the teacher directly and calling him "Professor Smith".

However, the most important factor in social leveling is the breadth of the education system, which provides the vast majority of Americans with a 12-year education before graduating from high school and allows half of those who graduate each year to attend college. for another two years. . to four years. Consequently, educational differences are less of a social barrier than in Europe. However, the uniformity of the educational system cannot be taken literally. There are probably greater differences in quality between high schools in Harlem and the Upper East Side than there are between modern high schools (secondary schools) and secondary (Gymnasium) in the same suburb of Cologne. Also, the high dropout rate in the United States is a big problem. There are also large differences in the quality of colleges and universities. An Anglo-American Harvard Law School graduate will not mix with his Mexican-American counterpart from a less prestigious Texas law school just because he has the same formal qualifications. Since there is informal vertical differentiation, formal uniformity in the education system alone cannot compensate for social differences. Children from the lowest groups and classes also attend the poorest schools, colleges and universities.

The decentralization of the political system in the United States, particularly the autonomy of local authorities, counteracts tendencies towards political differentiation into a governing elite and a mass of governed subjects. In a European comparison, there are more diversified opportunities to participate in political life. This does not mean any political commitment.


something shared by all groups activates it at least where a much larger number of citizens are active and where they develop a common sense of being active citizens with equal rights (Dahl 1967).

Central to the establishment of equality in the United States is the belief that the unequal distribution of opportunity is illegitimate. Above all, this belief gave rise to an active state policy of equal opportunities, driven by liberals. While conservatives can stop these policies, they cannot eliminate them (Burkey 1978; Slawson 1979). Today, the vast majority of the population supports measures that guarantee equal opportunities in all areas, as long as these measures are expressly aimed at improving individual qualifications for the competitive job market. However, efforts to redistribute income without reference to individual performance are not widely supported (Wilson 1980).

American individualism, which blocks non-performance income redistribution and opposes government-managed welfare rather than individual responsibility, provides the ideological explanation for why it was not until 1935 that the first comprehensive social legislation was introduced and effective in the United States. U.S. In response to the Great Depression, Franklin D. Roosevelt took the lead with his New Deal (Leiby 1978). The Social Security Act of 1935 included two programs. One was an insurance system to provide pensions and unemployment benefits that required the insured to pay contributions; the other was non-contributory state support for the elderly and blind (later also for other people with disabilities) and for needy families with dependent children (Piven and Cloward 1971). This social legislation was expanded in 1964 and 1965 by Lyndon B. Johnson and the Liberal majority in Congress. The purpose of the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 was to strengthen the fight against poverty. State aid was granted for training programs to improve professional qualifications. Programs supported include job training for unemployed youth, English classes for unskilled adults, neighborhood programs designed to provide youth work experience, student business programs designed to provide part-time employment for college students from underprivileged families, and action. of poor neighborhoods to participate in planning and provision of services for their own benefit (Sundquist 1969; Plotnik and Skidmore 1975; Slawson 1979). The Medicare Act, another important welfare law, was passed in 1965. It stipulated that medical care for the elderly and poor must be funded from the federal budget. The growth of social benefits had a significant impact on the


federal budget over the years. Between 1950 and 1976, spending in this area increased from $10.5 billion to $198.3 billion, its share of federal spending increased from 26.2% to 56%, and its share of the national product increased from 4% to 12.3%.% (Wilson 1980; U.S. Census Bureau 1978).

Despite this huge increase in social spending, the United States still lags far behind European countries, which are world leaders in this regard (Thurow 1969; Beeghley 1983). Mainstream public opinion remains in favor of direct funding to create equal opportunity but rejects collective income redistribution. In a 1976 public opinion poll, while 94% thought that people should starve due to lack of government assistance, 89% thought that there were many welfare recipients who could actually work, and 64% believed that their security criteria social existed. the benefits were not rigorous enough (Wilson 1980).

Another indication of American resistance to the collective establishment of social equality is the limited place that socialism occupied in the political arena. Any attempt to create socialist parties quickly fell into the quicksand of American individualism. To the extent that socialist ideas were formulated, they never seriously called for a collective leveling of the distribution of goods. Rather, they simply demand that the state actively support those who begin careers with fewer opportunities and that true equality of opportunity be actively established (Lipset 1974; DeLeon 1978; Gilbert 1977).

The same applies to union politics. Although American unions have never fought for a restructuring of the economic system along socialist principles, they are among the toughest in the world when it comes to advancing the interests of their own members. However, these interests are not understood as a collective equalization of income distribution, but as obtaining the best possible wages for relatively limited groups of workers with homogeneous interests. Trade unions are highly differentiated according to sectors and professional areas and their tasks are assigned to the interests of the individual groups involved rather than those of the working population as a whole. So unions are nothing more than instruments with which employees can better assert their own position in the competition for better wages, and the individual employee expects nothing more from his union. Far from generating greater wage equality, union policy leads to increasing differentiation. Unions improve the position of certain groups of workers not only in relation to corporations, but also in relation to competition from other groups of workers (Lipset [1963] 1979).


5. The path to more equality

Since the 1950s, the main thrust against social inequality in the United States has been in the area of ​​civil rights policy. The civil rights movement accelerated the pace of progress by taking advantage of Supreme Court decisions and civil rights legislation in Congress. Although various social groups and minorities have suffered oppression throughout American history, the paradigmatic case that has been the main target of civil rights policy is that of black people. Former slaves did not become citizens of the United States until the 14th Amendment was added to the Constitution in 1868. And in 1870, the 15th Amendment prohibited denial of the right to vote based on race, color, or previous slave status. Of course, these changes did not end segregation and racial discrimination in practice. However, the 14th Amendment in particular played a key role in future Supreme Court civil rights decisions. Although it provided a framework for imposing equal rights on all citizens, decisive steps in this direction were not taken until the 1950s (Shapiro and Hobbs 1978; Pritchett 1979; Gunther and Dowling 1970; Berger 1967; Wilson 1980). The question at the time was what exactly should be included in the privileges and immunities of the Fourteenth Amendment and its provision for individual equality before the law.

The provisions of the Fourteenth Amendment were defined very narrowly, leading to a series of Supreme Court decisions accepting the so-called Jim Crown legislation on racial segregation and discrimination. at theSchlachthofIn the 1873 cases (16 Wallace 1873) where black rights were not the issue, the "privileges and immunities" clause was interpreted so narrowly that it was effectively overturned (Gunther and Dowling 1970). In civil rights cases before him ten years later, the Supreme Court declared unconstitutional an act of Congress that prohibited racial profiling in public accommodations, such as hotels and transportation, on the grounds that the 14th Amendment applied only to government agencies, not to private organizations. (Gunther and Dowling 1970). At thePlessy v. fergusonIn 1896, the Supreme Court ruled that separate but equal public facilities—in this case, separate railcars for blacks and whites—were constitutional. Three years later inCumming gegen Richmond Country Board of EducationThe court not only ruled that segregated schools were constitutional, but also that it was permissible for a school district to provide only a high school for white children and ignore the needs of black children. The court reminded blacks of their ability to use private schools.

In 1909, after an uprising against blacks, a small group of blacks and


Whites collectively formed the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). club publicationA crise,which was edited by W.E.B. DuBois, called attention to the oppression of blacks. The organization sought to lobby Congress, but its main efforts were to achieve change through lawsuits. The first successes were achieved in the mid-1930s.Missouri v. Gaines v. Canada,Ruled by the Supreme Court in 1983, Lloyd Gaines, who graduated from Lincoln University of Missouri in 1935, applied for admission to the law school. There was no black law school in Missouri, so he applied to the all-white University of Missouri law school, only to be denied application with the understanding that the additional costs of attending a state school would be reimbursed. The Supreme Court forced the University of Missouri to admit Gaines on the basis of the "separate but equal" ruling, which ruled that separate schools for blacks and whites were permissible but that they must also be equally accessible. In a similar case, ten years later, the University of Oklahoma created a special law department with three professors for a single black student as a result of the decision.Sipuel v. University of Oklahoma Board of Regents. then aSweatt against the Painter (1950)yMcLaurin v. Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education (1950)The Supreme Court prohibited these practices on the grounds that such mini-divisions did not guarantee equal academic standards.

In the 1950s, the liberal Warren Court ushered in a new phase in civil rights rulings. The case was keyBrown v. Topeka Board of Education(Kluger 1975). In this case, Oliver Brown, a black man, wanted to send his daughter to an all-white school in Topeka, Kansas. The school declined his request, noting that a black school in his area offered the same facilities. The lower court's decision, based on the "separate but equal" doctrine, determined that this rejection was legitimate. However, in a historic unanimous decision on May 17, 1954, the Supreme Court ruled otherwise. He explained that school segregation was inherently unequal because it left black children feeling inferior to their status in the community and exploited their hearts and minds in ways that could not be reversed later.

That decision, which had the "separate but equal" doctrine, has been upheld ever since.Plessy v. fergusonit was annulled. The separation of schools was now unconstitutional. The verdict sparked strong opposition in the South, which continued long after the event. On several occasions, federal troops had to be on hand to secure the admission of black students to white universities. Sometimes these federal troops even opposed the state National Guard, as in 1957 in Little Rock, Arkansas. In 1964, only 2% of black students were among the eleven


Former Confederate States attended multiracial schools, and most of these students were from Virginia and Texas. However, in 1970, resistance was broken. Segregation had ended in 97% of the 2,700 school districts in the southern states. Separate schools still existed in these districts, but only 14% of black students attended all-black schools. Today, there are more segregated schools in the North than in the South, as segregation in the North is de facto, not de jure, due to the racial homogeneity of neighborhoods (Wilson 1980).

In the 1960s and 1970s, desegregation led to integration, as federal courts increasingly required that schools be racially mixed; It was no longer enough to allow free choice of school. The Supreme Court under Warren Burger continued this pattern of legal decisions. Education authorities must aspire to complete miscegenation. To achieve this goal, children had to be transported by bus from their neighborhoods to other parts of the city or to larger cities (John and Hoyt 1975; Sheeham 1984). Many children could no longer attend local schools. This bus system has been met with severe criticism from most concerned parents. It is highly controversial to this day, but is still practiced by court order in the interest of creating a uniform school system. The example of the school bus shows what equal opportunities policy means if it is followed through to the end.

As late as the 1930s, the court ruled that racial segregation did not violate the principle of equality enshrined in the Fourteenth Amendment as long as segregated institutions offered equal opportunities, although it must be said that comparisons between institutions were made very broadly. . that is, they exaggerated the quality of existing black establishments. In the late 1930s, law enforcement officials were concerned that all blacks should have the same education or training available to whites. By the late 1940s, there was a demand for equivalent training. In the first half of the 1950s, the court ruled that any racial segregation was detrimental to the quality of opportunities. And in the 1960s and 1970s, the court ruled that active inclusion was a prerequisite for true equality of opportunity. While the courts have long allowed states and municipalities to pursue a policy of obstructing equal opportunities, today states and municipalities are required to actively create equal opportunities.

However, promoting civil rights to improve equality of opportunity is not a matter for the courts. During the 1960s and 1970s, Congress took an active role in civil rights policy. Although the courts initially took their decisions in opposite directions


for a conservative majority opinion, as they still do today on the school bus issue, a shift in public opinion in favor of the liberal position was necessary before Congress could act.

The civil rights movement that formed in the mid-1950s made its own contribution to this shift in public opinion (Wilson 1980; Dye 1971; Geschwender 1971; Chafe 1981). The first major change was a year-long boycott of a bus company in Montgomery, Alabama. Martin Luther King Jr. was beginning to rise to prominence as a leader of the movement during this period. In the 1960s, protests, demonstrations, protest marches and boycotts were imposed against public institutions that practiced racial discrimination. In April 1963, in Birmingham, Alabama, police used force to repel and disperse demonstrations. On August 28, 1963, 250,000 blacks and whites participated in the Civil Rights March in Washington, D.C. paper. In June 1964, three civil rights defenders were murdered in Neshoba County, Mississippi. Under King's leadership, protest marches were held in Selma, Alabama, from January to March 1965, some of which were violently suppressed by police. During the "long hot summers" of 1966 and 1967, violent demonstrations and riots swept many cities across the United States. On April 4, 1968, King was shot dead in Memphis, Tennessee.

The civil rights movement included black leaders from various groups, such as Roy Wilkins of the NAACP, Whitney Young of the Urban League, and Martin Luther King Jr. of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. They banned along with the liberal and modern white groups. A more militant stance was taken by the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) and the Black Panther Party. The violent riots of 1964-1968 were not initiated by black leaders, but these actions likely contributed to a general shift in white public opinion in favor of integration, although the main concern of many whites was simply to restore peace and order by making concessions. . .

Between 1963 and 1976, support for black integration increased significantly among whites. In 1963, about 60 percent were in favor of integrated schools. By 1970 the number had risen to 75% and by 1972 it was 85%. By 1976, however, support had dropped to 80%. The drop in support between 1972 and 1976 is believed to be due to the controversial bus system. In 1963, about 50% of whites said they wouldn't mind having a black friend, 65% expressed that opinion in 1970, 70% in 1972, and 72% in 1976. In 1963, about 45% of whites expressed their disapproval. of black exclusion from the white neighborhood, 50 percent doing so in 1970, 55 percent in 1972, and 60 percent in 1976. Thirty-five percent of white mixed marriages were banned


Blacks and whites in 1963, 50% in 1970, 60% in 1972 and 70% in 1976. The final approval of integration came when it was asked whether blacks should enter spheres where their presence was undesirable. About 25% opposed such moves in 1963, 18% in 1970, 23% in 1972, and 26% in 1976 (Taylor, Sheatsly, and Greeley 1978).

In the context of the civil rights movement and shifts in white public opinion, Congress enacted civil rights legislation (Gunther and Dowling 1970; Abernathy 1980). In 1957, Congress passed legislation prohibiting acts that would prevent someone from voting in a federal election. In 1960, the US Attorney General was authorized to send observers to investigate cases in which blacks were prevented from exercising their right to vote. The biggest breakthrough came with the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which was introduced to Congress at the instigation of President Lyndon B. Johnson. The Civil Rights Act prevented the use of literacy tests to keep blacks out of voting booths, a common practice in the South. It prohibited any discrimination based on race, color, religion or nationality in restaurants, hotels, snack bars, gas stations, cinemas, sports stadiums, riding stables and inns with more than five rooms. In addition, the law prohibited any discrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin or sex in relation to the hiring, firing and compensation of workers in organizations with more than 25 employees. The Attorney General was ordered to file complaints to hasten desegregation, but was not required to establish a school bus system to achieve better racial balance. Federal financial support was denied to organizations that practiced discrimination.

1965 Congressional auditors tasked with investigating our discriminatory practices, at the federal, state, or local level, where less than 50 percent of eligible voters were actually on voter rolls. In 1968, discrimination in the purchase or rent of apartments or houses was prohibited in all cases where real estate agents carried out such transactions.

Civil rights legislation produced remarkable results. Black participation in politics increased significantly. For example, whereas in the eleven southern states only 30% of eligible blacks were registered to vote in 1960, by 1971 that number had risen to 58%. Southern political representatives had to consider their black constituents. In 1957, for example, none of the Southern Democrats voted for the new suffrage legislation. However, when a suffrage bill was introduced to Congress for renewal in 1970, it was approved by 34 of 89 prospective Southerners.


democratic votes. The number of black deputies increased considerably. The total number of blacks in state legislatures or Congress increased from 182 to 316 between 1970 and 1978. In city halls and counties it increased from 715 to 2,595, in judges and sheriffs offices from 213 to 454, and on school boards from 362 to 1138 . (Wilson 1980).

Affirmative action programs increasingly provided government support for blacks and other minorities to gain access to colleges, universities, and other positions in the public and private sectors (Abernathy 1980). However, this program sparked controversy over whether minorities should receive preferential treatment and whether the disadvantages of recent years should be offset by better opportunities in the general competition. The following types of programs to improve opportunities for disadvantaged minorities are included in affirmative action:

1. Programs that seek to recruit trained or qualified members of disadvantaged minorities for public service positions.

2. Training programs to improve the professional skills of disadvantaged minorities.

3. Programs that monitor all evidence to ensure its cultural neutrality.

4. Programs that monitor qualifications for different occupations to avoid the disadvantage of discriminatory qualification regulations.

5. Programs that give special attention to those belonging to minorities who, when applying for a job, demonstrate that they have the same qualifications as other less advantaged candidates.

In practice, the affirmative action program often resulted in quotas set in advance for certain minorities to be admitted to colleges and universities and to be employed. However, it is a practice that is increasingly criticized and frowned upon by public opinion. A Gallup poll found that 77% of whites support training programs to improve opportunities for blacks, but 82% oppose preferential treatment for similarly qualified blacks in selecting candidates for promotion. In 1974, 96% of whites and 83% of blacks opposed preferential treatment when hiring. In 1977, 83% of respondents opposed preferential treatment for women and members of minorities in college admissions or filling vacancies. A 1976 poll asked respondents whether they approved of the fact that some large organizations were running affirmative action programs that sometimes gave preferential treatment to members of disadvantaged minorities. The results


showed that 51% disagreed and 35% agreed with this policy, and among black respondents, 58% agreed and 24% disagreed (Lipset and Schneider 1977; Wilson 1980). The results of this poll clearly show that while the vast majority of Americans support equal opportunity programs, they are strongly opposed to giving preferential treatment to disadvantaged minorities when doing so violates criteria for rewarding individual performance.

Beyond basic minimum benefits for the sick, weak, and needy, Americans reject the notion that equitable distribution of material goods is desirable regardless of individual performance. However, for most Americans, activist equal opportunity policy is a fundamental social responsibility. The Federal Supreme Court has this conviction in its decisions in theUniversity of California Regents v. Bakke,broadcast June 28, 1978 (Shapiro and Hobbs 1978; Abernathy 1980; Sindler 1978). Allan Bakke, a 38-year-old engineer, applied to the University of California and Davis School of Medicine and was turned down. Bakke later complained that the medical school admission process was unconstitutional and violated the principle of equal opportunity enshrined in the 14th Amendment. He claims that sixteen places at the school were reserved in advance for members of minorities and that some applicants were accepted even though they were less qualified than Bakke. The California Supreme Court upheld Bakke's claim and ordered his admission to the University of California medical school. The university appealed against this. However, the United States Supreme Court upheld the California court's decision by a five-to-four majority.

The majority group, which included Justices Powell, Stevens, Rehnquist, Stewart and Burger, viewed the medical school's proceedings as a primary violation of the Civil Rights Acts of 1964 and its provision that no one may be denied entry to an institution. supported by the federal government. when the refusal is based on race, color or national origin. Although Judge Powell reached the same decision, he did so on the grounds that an explicit quota system violated the Fourteenth Amendment and its requirement that protections under the laws of the land should be equal. However, Judge Powell noted that a candidate's race itself could be one of the criteria considered.

The minority group, consisting of Justices Brennan, Justice Blackmun, Marshall and White, argued that the Constitution and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 allowed for a quota system to remedy past discrimination.BakkeAutumn conveys today's civil rights demarcation line


Policy: While equal opportunities should be actively implemented through qualification measures and special attention should be paid to previously disadvantaged groups to eliminate past discrimination, a perfect collective distribution of assets through the setting of quotas is not desirable. Many see these quota systems as reverse discrimination against those who have historically belonged to privileged groups (Glaser 1975; Grass 1977). Discrimination must not be eliminated by reverse discrimination, which is also unconstitutional.

The policy of creating equal opportunities was followed so consistently in the United States in the 1960s and 1970s that it was repeatedly rejected by conservatives and, in the case of the quota system, went beyond the framework of basic American convictions. However, these developments cannot be found in any other industrialized Western nation, and the number of admissions to colleges and universities from members of disadvantaged groups increased enormously during this period. A similar trend can be observed in income levels. In 1950, blacks earned average wages and wages that accounted for only 50% of white wages, while by 1973 those average wages had risen to 73% for whites. Comparing the income of the female population shows an even more remarkable evolution: black women received only 40% in 1950, but 97% more than whites in 1975. The problem today is no longer the black population as a whole, but mainly one of certain black groups, particularly young people from broken families. The nature of the problem is illustrated by the fact that, while four-year undergraduate blacks earned 94% of the wages of their white peers in 1977, the unemployment rate for black youth was 38% in that year (Wilson 1980). .

In the 1970s, the women's movement reoriented national equality debates in the United States on the status of women (Kraditor 1965; Flexner 1968; Stazs 1978; Theodore 1971; Treiman and Hartmann 1981; McGlen and O'Connor 1983). In no other industrialized country is there such an active, wide-ranging and historically rooted women's movement. While elsewhere the women's movement has remained largely confined to intellectual strata, the American movement encompasses much broader strata and groups of women, including housewives.

The American woman, especially the housewife, is much more involved in public life than her European counterpart. This is a direct result of the blurred distinction between private and public. The fact that women received the right to vote only in 1920, through the Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution, is more the exception than the rule when comparing women's participation in public life in Germany.


Europe and United States. In the mid-1970s, the women's movement placed its concerns at the center of gender equality policy and also had some successes in the wake of the Affirmative Action Program. A European immediately notices how American women naturally fill career roles that are still dominated by men in Europe. The proportion of women in academic, industrial and public positions is significantly higher than in industrialized European countries.

6. Conclusion

In this chapter, I began with an overview of how the idea of ​​equal opportunity became the dominant definition of equality in American society. This definition has its roots in the relative equality of the people who established the northern colonies. However, the idea of ​​equal opportunities was contradicted in the southern colonies, where the idea of ​​natural inequality between free and slave became dominant.

This cultural conflict eventually led to the victory of the Nordic idea of ​​equal opportunities, which was then interpreted both liberally and conservatively: the liberal type called for political programs to counteract equal opportunity trends, the conservative type resisted such programs. . The development of real equality and inequality in society has been shaped by the effects of this ongoing discourse and by economic, political and social processes themselves. Many processes act unwittingly to increase inequality: the traditional racial, ethnic, religious, national and class divisions of neighboring communities, the accumulation of unequal rewards for unequal economic performance, the accumulation of political power in the hands of racial, religious, national groups and class groups and the hierarchical differentiation of the cultures of these different groups, with the "WASP" culture occupying the dominant position. Added to this are the intentional activities of wealthier groups to assert their position by erecting organizational, political, economic and cultural barriers against emerging groups.

However, these trends towards greater inequality run counter to other trends towards greater equality of opportunity. Economic affluence, opportunities for political participation for emerging political movements like the civil rights movement, rise of a growing middle class, mass consumption and open communication have an unintended effect on greater equality. These trends are accompanied by activities aimed at achieving greater equality of opportunity, that is, programs that increase the chances of economic, political, organizational and cultural success of disadvantaged groups.


Conditions. Affirmative action is designed to produce such effects. the very idea of ​​equal opportunities exerts pressure to move society towards greater equality of opportunity. This process occurs in particular in court decisions on civil rights.

We can say that American society, more than any other, is subject to the constant tension of opposing processes. While some processes lead society to greater inequality, equilibrium processes lead society to greater equality. In certain respects both inequality and equality are increasing at the same time.


Abernathy, CF 1980.Civil rights: cases and materials. With t. Paul, Minnesota: West.

Almond, GA e S. Verba. 1963Civic culture: political attitudes and democracy in five nations. Princeton, Nova Jersey: Princeton University Press.

Anderson, K. 1983. The New Ellis Island.Hour,June 13, 10–17.

Grades, RC 1972.American values ​​in transition. Nova York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.

Bart, CA [1913] 1968.An Economic Interpretation of the Constitution of the United States. Nova York: Macmillan.

Becker, GL 1958.The Declaration of Independence: A Study in the History of Political Ideas. Nova York: Vintage.

Beeghley, L. 1983.poor life in america. Nova York: Embers.

Berger, M. 1967.Equality before the law: the civil rights revolution. Garden City, Nova York: Doubleday.

Berthoff, R. 1971.A Restless Folk: Social Order and Disorder in American History. Nova York: Harper and Row.

Blue, PM and OD Duncan. 1967The American occupational structure. Nova York: Willey.

Brown, RE 1956.Charles Beard and the Constitution: A Critical Analysis of "An Economic Interpretation of the Constitution".Princeton, Nova Jersey: Princeton University Press.

Burkey, RM 1978.Ethnic and racial groups: the dynamics of domination. Menlo Park, Califórnia: Cummings.

Chafe, WH 1981.Civilities and Civil Rights: Greensboro, North Carolina, and the Black Struggle for Freedom. Nova York: Oxford University Press.

Cicourel, A. 1968.The social organization of justice.. Nova York: Willey.

Cohen, L.E. and J.R. Kluegel. 1978. Determinants of Juvenile Court Decisions: Attributable and Achieved Factors in Two Metropolitan Courts.American Sociological Journal43:162–76.

Coleman, JS 1966.Equal educational opportunities. Washington, DC: Government Press Office.

Coleman, R. P. e L. Rainwater. 1979Social position in the United States: new class dimensions. Londres: Routledge und Kegan Paul.

Collins, R. 1979.The Credential Society: A Historical Sociology of Education and Stratification. Nova York: Academic Press.


Dahl, R. A. 1967.Pluralist Democracy in the United States: Conflict and Consent. Chicago: Rand McNally.

DeLeon, D. 1978.The American as Anarchist: Reflections on Indigenous Radicalism. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Dollard, J. [1937] 1957.Caste and Class in a Southern Town. Garden City, Nova York: Doubleday.

DuBois, WEB, ed. [1909] 1967.john brown. Nova York: International Publishers.

Dye, TR 1971.The politics of equality. Indianapolis: Bobbs Merrill.

Eidelberg, S. 1976.On the silence of the Declaration of Independence. Amherst, Massachusetts: University of Massachusetts Press.

Fuller, L. 1960.The Crusade Against Slavery, 1830-1860. Nova York: Harper and Row.

Flexner, E. 1968.a century of struggle. New York: Athenaeum.

Geschwender, JA, ed. 1971The Black Revolt: The Civil Rights Movement, Ghetto Revolts, and Separatism. Englewood Cliffs, Nova Jersey: Prentice-Hall.

Gilberto, JB 1977.Labor without Redemption: America's Intellectual and Industrial Alienation, 1880-1910. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Ginsberg, R. 1967.A case book for the Declaration of Independence. . . . Nova York: Crowell

Glaser, N. 1975.Affirmative Discrimination: Ethnic Inequality and Public Policies. New York: Essential Books.

Glazer, N. e D. Moynihan. [1963] 1970.beyond the cauldron. Cambridge, Mass.: M.I.T. Presionar.

Gordon, MM 1964.Assimilation in American Life: The Role of Race, Religion, and National Origin. New York; Oxford University Press.

Grass, B. R., Hrsg. 1977.reverse discrimination. Buffalo, Nova York: Prometheus.

Engraving, WF 1949.The Southern Colonies in the 17th Century, 1607-1689. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press.

Gris, LC 1958.History of agriculture in the southern United States up to 1890. Gloucester, Massachusetts: Peter Smith.

Grebler, L., J. W. Moore e R. C. Guzin. 1970.The Mexican-American people: the second largest minority in the country. Nova York: Free Press.

Gunther, G. e N. T. Dowling. 1970.Cases and materials on individual rights in constitutional law. Mineola, Nova York: Foundation Press.

Jefferson, Thomas. 1905Thomas Jefferson's writings. . . . ed. Andrew A. Lipscomb. Washington, DC: Thomas Jefferson Memorial Association of the United States.

Jefferson, Thomas. 1941. Notes on Virginia. At theamerican problems,edited by W. Thorp, M. Curti and C. Baker, 127-32. Chicago: Lippincott.

Jencks, C., et al. 1972.Inequality: A reassessment of the impact of family and schooling in America. New York: Essential Books.

John, S. e N. Hoyt. 1975school suspension; results for children. Nova York: Willey.

Kahl, JA [1953] 1967.The American Class Structure. Nova York: Holt, Rinehart e Winston.

Kaufmann, R. L. 1983. A structural breakdown of income differentials between blacks and whites.american sociology magazine89:585–611.


Kluger, R. 1975.Simple Justice: Brown's Story Against the Board of Education and the Black Struggle for Equality. Nova York: Vintage.

Kraditor, A. 1965.The ideas of the women's suffrage movement, 1890-1920. Nova York: Columbia University Press.

Laslett, J.H. e S.M. Lipset, Hrsg. 1974.failure of a dream? Essays on the History of American Socialism. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Leiby, J. 1978.A History of Social Welfare and Social Work in the United States. Nova York: Columbia University Press.

Lipset, SM [1963] 1979.the first new nation. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . New York: Norton.

Lipset, SM 1974.Opportunities and Prosperity in the First New Nation. Washington, DC: American Business Institute.

Lipset, SM, and W. Schneider. 1977. An Emerging National Consensus.the new republic,October 15, 8–9.

McCord, W., J. Howard, B. Friedberg e E. Harwood. 1969.Lifestyles not black ghetto. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . New York: Norton.

McGill, RE 1963.The South and the South. Boston: Klein, Braun.

McGlen, NE e K. O'Connor. 1983Women's rights: the struggle for equality in the 19th and 20th centuries. Nova York: Embers.

Marx, K. 1962.Criticism of the Gotha program. NoMarx-Engels-Werke,19:11–32. Berlin: Dietz.

Mayhew, L. 1968.Law and Equal Opportunities. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.

Mindel, C.H. e R.W. habenstein, eds. 1976Ethnic Families in America. New York: Elsevier.

Morgan, ES 1975.American Slavery, American Freedom: The Test of Colonial Virginia. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . New York: Norton.

Murray, JC 1964.We cling to these truths. Garden City, Nova York: Doubleday.

Myrday, G. 1944.the american dilemma. . . . Nova York: Harper.

Navarro, E. 1971.Die Chicano-Community. New York: Council on Social Work Education.

Padover, SK, Hrsg. 1943.the complete jefferson. New York: Duel, Sloan and Pierce.

Pettigrew, T. F., Hrsg. 1975.Racial discrimination in the United States. New York.

Piven, F. F. e R. A. Cloward. 1971Regulating the poor: the public welfare functions. Nova York: Harper and Row.

Plotnik, R. and F. Skidmore. 1975.Progress against poverty: a review of the decade 1964-1974. Nova York: Academic Press.

Potter, D. 1954.people abound; Economic Abundance and the American Character. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Pritchett, CH 1979.the american constitution. . . . Nova York: McGraw-Hill.

Rainwater , L. , editor 1970 .alma. Nova York: Aldine.

Ratner, S., J.H. Soltow and R. Sylla. 1979The evolution of the American economy: growth, prosperity and decision making. New York: Essential Books.

Reimers, C. W. 1984. Sources of household income disparities among Hispanics, blacks, and non-Hispanic whites.american sociology magazine89:889–903.

Rose, P. I., Hrsg. 1970.Slavery and its consequences.. . . . Nova York: Atherton.


Shapiro, M. e D. S. Hobbs. 1978.American Constitutional Law: Cases and Analysis. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Winthrop.

Sheeham, JB 1984.The Boston Integration School Controversy: Social Change and Legal Maneuvers. Nova York: Columbia University Press.

Sindler, AP 1978.Bakke, DeFunis and Minority Admissions. . . . Nova York: Longmann.

Slawson, J. 1979.Unequal Americans: Practices and Policies of Intergroup Relations. Westport, Anschl.: Greenwood.

Seasons, approx. 1978.female and male. Socialization, social roles and social structure. Dubuque, Iowa: William C. Brown.

Steiner, S. 1970.La Raza: Mexican-Americans. Nova York: Harper and Row.

Sundquist , JL , ed. 1969Fight against poverty: Perspectives from experience. New York: Essential Books.

Taylor, D.G., P.B. Sheatsly and A.M. Greeley. 1978. Attitudes toward racial integration.american scientist238:30–37.

Terry, R. M. 1967. Discrimination in Dealing with Juvenile Offenders.Journal of Research on Crime and Delinquency4:218–30.

Theodor, A., Hrsg. 1971.the working woman. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Schenkman.

Thornberry, T.B. 1973. Race, socioeconomic status, and sentencing in the juvenile justice system.Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology64:90–98.

Thornberry, T.B. 1979. Judgmental Differences in Juvenile Justice.Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology70:164–71.

Thurow, L. 1969.poverty and discrimination. Washington, DC: Brookings.

Tocqueville, A. de [1835–40] 1966.Democracy in America. Trans. Jorge Laurent. Nova York: Harper & Row.

Treiman, D.J., and HI Hartmann, eds.Women, work and wages: Equal pay for work of equal value. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.

Turner, JH stratification. Nova York: Columbia University Press.

Turner, J.H., R. Singleton e D. Musick. 1984.Oppression: A Sociohistory of Black-White Relations in America. Chicago: Nelson Hall.

US Census Bureau 1978.United States Statistical Summary. Washington, DC: G.P.O.

Verba, S. and N.H. No. 1972Participation in America: political democracy and social equality. Nova York: Harper and Row.

Wagenheim, K. and O. Jiménez de Wagenheim, eds. 1973Puerto Ricans: a documentary history. Nova York: Embers.

Wilhoit, FM 1973.The policy of mass resistance. Nova York: George Braziller.

Wilson, JQ 1980.American government: institutions and politics. Lexington, Massachusetts: Heide.

Zeitlin, M., editor [1970] 1977.American Society, Inc.: Studies in the Social Structure and Political Economy of the United States. Chicago: Rand McNally



Durkheim's problem and differentiation theory today

jeffrey c. Alexandre

Differentiation comes closer than any other contemporary conception to identifying the broad contours of change and the texture of civilization, the inherent dangers and true promises of modern life. As a general process, differentiation is reasonably well understood and provides a backdrop for making sense of everyday life today. Institutions are gradually becoming more specialized. Family control over social organization diminishes. Political processes are less determined by the duties and rewards of patriarchy, and the division of labor is organized more by economic criteria than by age and gender. Membership in a community can extend beyond ethnicity to territorial and political criteria. Religion becomes more general and abstract, institutionally separate and in tension with other spheres. Eventually, cultural generalization completely breaks the shackles of religion. Natural laws are recognized in the moral and physical world, and in the process, religion relinquishes not only its hierarchical control over cultural life but also its institutional prominence.

Given these general outlines of world history and the intuitive description of modernity they offer, the inherent dangers and promises of modernity can be understood. Thus, the need to develop flexible and independent control over social complexity leads to the emergence of large bureaucratic and impersonal organizations (Eisenstadt 1963). Such centralization (political, economic, informational) provides a ubiquitous resource for the exercise of domination and organized cruelty. But precisely because it is impersonal

I would like to thank my colleagues at the School of Social Sciences at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey, of which I was a member at the time of this writing, and in particular Michael Walzer. Portions of this article refer to Alexander 1989.


and bureaucratic rather than original and diffuse, that is, because it is differentiated, this centralization is also experienced in a new and important way in totalitarian societies. It is rarely experienced as an omnipotent archetypal reality; rather, it is experienced as a development that challenges the existence of deeply rooted institutions in public and private life (see, for example, Touraine et al. 1983).

The countercenters that mark public and private life are not limited to primary groups or lifeworlds, which Habermas (1984) presents as the last bastion against colonization by rational systems. Uneven differentiation, not one-dimensional colonization, characterizes the modern world. Indeed, as Walzer (1983) has shown, it is the very existence of social and cultural differentiation - not colonization - that allows social critiques committed to justice in modern societies to increasingly grant autonomy and self-regulation to social spheres. public and private life.

But it is not enough to have a general knowledge of the contours of differentiation and its problems and possibilities. If the differentiation perspective is to produce a theory of social change, it must be based on facts. Obviously, not all societies and institutions differ. Sometimes they stagnate. They often become fragile and reactionary, focused and inflexible. Why do these reactions occur? Why, on the contrary, can there sometimes be a differentiation?

Furthermore, describing differentiation only as a general process allows it to appear as an automatism, a balancing mechanism that occurs whenever adjustments need to be made to conflicts and tensions. This is not the case. The differentiating social processes must be described in a concrete and concrete way. When this is the case, the contingent nature of differentiation is more clearly understood, as is the fact that differentiation takes different forms in different historical contexts. Is a certain guiding ideology necessary for differentiation to occur? Are certain types of stakeholder training required? If so, in what societies and historical contexts are such requirements likely to arise?

Finally, what is the relationship between differentiation and historical formations, which are the traditional objects of classical theories of social change? Do feudalism, fascism, capitalism and socialism represent a continuum of differentiation or are they amalgamations of differently differentiated institutions? Does thinking about change as differentiation allow us to conceptualize tensions and conflicts in these formations more effectively than traditional theories?

These questions mark the limit of differentiation theory. They arise not only from scientific curiosity but also from theoretical competence (Wagner and Berger 1984). These are the questions that other theories


Blamed by theories that believe they see differentiation in social change. If the theory is to be maintained, it must be improved and these questions must be answered.

In the next chapter, I begin to formulate some answers. I do this in part by suggesting that there is already an increase in the current theoretical community (eg Alexander 1985; Alexander and Colomy 1989) of research directed precisely at these goals. For the most part, however, I try to provide some answers to these questions, or at least provide a framework within which such answers can be more easily devised. I begin by proposing that the issues I have listed cannot be seen simply as limited concerns of recent neofunctionalist work, but as problems that go back to the classical foundations of sociology itself. Indeed, I argue that, rightly understood, these are overarching questions that must be asked by any effort that seriously attempts to understand social change. I show how these questions define the achievements and limitations of Durkheim's theory of change. By examining Parsons' later theorizing in these terms, I argue, we gain a new perspective not only on the critique of the functionalist theory of change, but also on the efforts that have been made to improve it. These reflections feed into my final suggestions for what future efforts to understand differentiation might look like.

1. Durkheim's problem

Although the notion that society changes through a process of institutional specialization goes back to antiquity, the modern theory of social change began as a differentiation with Durkheim.[1]NoThe division of labor in societyDurkheim ([1893] 1933) reshaped Spencer's earlier theory and began a research program that continues today. Although Durkheim's first major work has, of course, become one of the classics of Western social science, the association with differentiation theory has generally not been made. Therefore, in the context of this discussionclassificationis of special interest. Although all the problems I find in this classic work have already been mentioned, they have never been understood in terms of differentiation theory.

[1] I make this point despite the fact that Spencer articulated a broad historical classification of history as differentiation long before the emergence of Durkheim's work. Although Spencer had a significant influence on Durkheim, it was Durkheim rather than Spencer who attracted later reflections on differentiation in the social sciences. Furthermore, Spencer's approach to differentiation contrasts with Durkheim's in a way that is highly relevant to the issues and perspectives of differentiation theory today. (See my discussion of Durkheim's and Parsons' neglect of war in this chapter.)


Since this is not the case, their theoretical interrelation has been impossible to discern.

Durkheim's first major work exemplifies the theory of differentiation in several ways. It can be seen as the first and still one of the most powerful applications of the theory itself. It can also be seen as embodying some of the more typical and crippling weaknesses of that tradition. In other words, Durkheim's early papers succinctly present both the achievements of differentiation theory and the difficulties it often presents.

In Book 1 ofclassificationUnder the title "The function of the division of labor", Durkheim draws a general portrait of the social as differentiation. Societies were once mechanically organized. They had repressive laws and were governed by a particular and omnipresent collective conscience. Gradually, they moved towards organic solidarity, where laws are restitutive and the collective generalized and abstract. In terms of institutional references, Durkheim focuses on economic change on the one hand and on the separation of religion from political and legal functions on the other. There is also a brief but important discussion of cultural generalization as an indication of the increasingly person-centered character of collective consciousness.

This first discussion, however, is of a particularly broad nature. While this thrust confers power and scope, it makes engaging in a real discussion of detail difficult; h the specific historical phases through which differentiation occurs, the particular institutions and sectors on which specific periods of differentiation depend, and the historically specific social problems that differentiation may systematically generate. Durkheim's argument in Book 1 is more evolutionary than evolutionary, as it does not describe any phase-specific strain. It is functional in the sense that there is no theory of how specific structures are involved. It is ideal-typical in the sense that it does not take into account the processes of change that actually bring about an episode of social differentiation.[2]

However, what is intriguing about this work, and what makes it so paradigmatic of differentiation theory as such, is that Durkheim attempts to supply this missing data in Books 2 and 3. Book 3, entitled "Causes and Conditions" , is their attempt to provide a theory of social process. Durkheim argues that population growth leads to greater density and that increased specialization is an almost Malthusian response to the need for a more adaptive and efficient allocation of resources. Durkheim's book 3, Abnormal Forms, is an attempt to discuss a specific historical story

[2] In developing these distinctions, I review some of my earlier ideas about the different levels of the theory of change (Alexander 1983, 128-44, 259-72). In doing so, I draw on the important arguments of Gould (1985) and Colony (1985).


Differentiation phase and the problems typically associated with it. It suggests that the division of labor is coercive and disruptive, since industrial society is not yet fully differentiated. As birth detaches itself from wealth and politics from economic organization, work relationships become more mature and society becomes less conflictual.

The fatal weakness ofclassificationis that his three books cannot be systematically related to each other. That population pressure is the main process by which differentiation occurs, as Durkheim claims in Book 2, is doubtful. More importantly, from a theoretical point of view, this emphasis seems to directly contradict the notion proposed by Durkheim in Book 1 that differentiation involves cultural and political phenomena. And what demography or systemic differentiation understood more broadly has to do with the forced division of labor - Durkheim's theme in Book 3 - is also problematic. For if the division of labor is indeed anomic and restricted in 1890, there is nothing in Durkheim's general theory or his specific description of the social process to explain it. What is needed is a more phase-specific model of both the general differentiation and the social process. Only with such a theory would it be possible to establish the criteria for predicting the "normal" and "pathological" consequences of a given social formation.

In other words, making connections between the three parts of Durkheim's work requires a detailed account of structures and processes and a systematic effort to connect these theories with the general theory of differentiation. I suggest that this is precisely the goal to which contemporary differentiation theory should aspire.

2. The theory of social change and Durkheim's problem

To relate this agenda for a particular research program more generally to issues of social change, one must recognize that Durkheim's "problem" is not unique to Durkheim. He used differentiation theory to address generic questions for the study of social change per se. each ofDivisionThree parts represent an important way in which social change has been conceptualized: through the construction of general models, through the development of accounts of social processes, and through historically specific analyzes of tensions and strains. In other words, Durkheim's problem is an ongoing problem that any prospect of change must deal with.

From these points of view, I now briefly examine the main classical theories of change with which Durkheims had to compete. Although Weber defines a general theme, "rationalization", he does not emphasize the general level of his analysis as Durkheim does. webers


The only attempt at a general presentation of rationalization is the "author's preface" (Weber [1920] 1958, 13-31) to his compiled essays on the sociology of religion, which was not written until late in his career and which was much more of an afterthought than the basis of his theoretical program. The minimalist nature of the rationalization problem is also reflected in the fact that there is still debate over the simple definition of rationalization itself.[3]I am not suggesting that this general notion was not important in guiding Weber's thinking, because it certainly was. But conceptualizing and elaborating them was not Weber's central concern.

Central to Weber's work are his theories of change processes, the role of institutions and groups in these processes, and the historically specific charges associated with them. The Protestant ethic creates capitalism in the West, patrimonialism spills over into autonomous urban centers in the East, charismatic leadership becomes routine and bureaucratic, priests and later legal notables have a vested interest in producing formally rational laws. These are the intermediate sentences concerning Weber. How and why they relate to historical rationalization is implied but never clearly articulated. One result is that it is never easy to see the relationship between Weber's various theories of change in the media. Bendix (1961) devoted a very ambitious book to presenting these connections, and Schluchter (1981) has recently devoted another to the subject. But although these works are presented as commentary on Weber's theories, in reality they should be seen as theoretical constructions that attempt to fill this gap. Another result of this disarticulation of Weber's specific theories from each other and from his general perspective is that the relevance of these historical accounts for explaining other episodes of change and for thinking about the future course of change is far from clear.

Although Weber's historical accounts of traditional society often include specific accounts of conflict and tension – his theory of the patrimonialism-feudalism dilemma must be seen as prototypical in this respect – this genetic or developmental quality disappears from his treatment of capitalism and society. modern society. years old. This disconnection between the strands of Weber's theory of change also leaves fundamental questions unanswered. Will bureaucratization dominate the party?

[3] So begins one of the most interesting recent contributions to this debate: "The idea of ​​rationality is a great unifying theme in the work of Max Weber...big idea... that combines his empirical and methodological investigations with his political and moral reflections. [However] Weber frequently uses the term “rational” without qualification or explanation…. No fewer than sixteen obvious meanings of "rational" can be derived [from his writings]. The reader may be surprised by a bewildering array of labels and connotations” (Brubaker 1984, 1-2).


Politics in modern times, or is it constantly being challenged by charismatic politicians? Will formal law prevail indefinitely, or will such formulations be contested by different social groups whose demands can be formulated specifically in terms of content and history? Finally, does the supernatural character of Puritanism lead to cultural universalism or secularism in a purely political sense?

Behind these problems lie Weber's historicist difficulties with the concept of capitalism. Does late capitalism affect the processes that Weber identified with its earlier rise? What can unequivocally define late capitalism if indeed a new post-capitalist historical phase is about to begin? Does this phase differ in any way from the socialist form of industrial society, which Weber ([1918] 1971) must have seen at one time only as capitalism in another form, or from communist industrialism, which at another time (Beetham 1974, 46 - 48, 82-87) Did Weber believe that he was disastrously different from capitalism not only economically, but also politically and morally? Again, my point is not that Weber has nothing to say on these issues; he obviously does. On the contrary, my point is that the failure to articulate the various levels or forms of his theorizing renders his contributions piecemeal and ad hoc. To suggest that there are paradoxes created by the rationalization of culture (Schluchter 1979) is encouraging but insufficient. Nor is it sufficient to translate Weberian political theory into a history of the making of citizenship (Bendix 1964), although such an attempt is certainly valuable in its own right. Weber's theory remains the most astute theory of institutional change ever written, and it continues to inspire the most comprehensive writing on contemporary change processes (see, for example, Collins 1986b). But Durkheim's problem also remains for Weber's theory.

Marxists, of course, have been most energetic in pointing out these weaknesses in Weber's theory of change, and when we look at Marx's approach to change, on the other hand, we cannot help but admire its beauty and theoretical power. Marx brought together the different ways of theorizing about social change in a coherent and convincing way. Its general theme describes a dialectical movement -thesis, antithesis, synthesis- that occurs in each historical period and throughout human history as a whole. His institutional theory clearly translates this dialectic, defining the thesis as class domination at the service of economic production, the antithesis as the struggle of exploited classes in production, and the synthesis as the resulting revolutionary social formation. Phase-specific burdens are handled with the same elegance and network, at least for the capitalist era: production processes are based on productive forces; Classes are established by property rights that define their relations to production; when production relations begin to suffocate


the productive forces, the class struggle begins; and balance can only be restored when the revolutionary transformation of property relations has been achieved.

Since Marx seems to provide at least part of the solution to Durkheim's problem, his theory of change has gained wide acceptance. In times of great conflict and anxiety, it provides a coherent interpretation of events. He also clearly identified some of the more specific and obvious features of contemporary social life. It cannot be denied that there is capitalism and class conflict. It is also clear that the redistribution of property continues to preoccupy capitalist welfare states and that the 20th century was again transformed by a series of communist revolutions, first and most powerfully by Max Weber himself. Only when such intense and relatively monolithic domination is experienced do Marxist theories become plausible. As social life returns to its typically fragmented and pluralized form, Marxism loses its appeal. We live in such a time today. The social upheavals of the 1960s led to a revival of Marxism, but today Marxism is definitely in decline. The central importance of relatively autonomous non-economic institutions for change was emphasized again (see, for example, Sewell 1980; Evans, Rueschemeyer, and Skocpol 1985), and temporal and spatial specificity was emphasized over the generalization of dialectical theories (Giddens 1981, 1986).

As this view of Marxism shows, the development of theories of social change goes beyond Durkheim's problem alone. In any form of theorizing, the theorist must make specific commitments, describe empirical processes, predict conflicts, and prescribe moral possibilities. The more explicit a theory becomes at each of the various levels of theoretical work, and the closer the interrelationship it can posit, the more questionable its substantive moral and empirical claims become. As a proponent of a more pluralistic theory, this should come as no surprise. I find the substantive formulations of Marxism incredible, even if I admire their theoretical reach. It is one thing to solve Durkheim's problem; quite another to solve them empirically and in a morally reasonable way. It seems to me that Weber's theory of change is much closer to empirical reality than Marx's, and the moral possibilities that Weber implies, while flawed in many respects, are also more liberal and emancipatory.

The challenge is to solve Durkheim's problem without abandoning Weber's institutional work, which suggests that differentiation theory needs to be pushed in a Weberian direction. That was Parsons' intention. Let's see what kind of advances he made on Durkheim's earlier theories.


before insisting again that it really didn't solve Durkheim's problem.

3. Parsons' theory of change and Durkheim's problem

It is generally accepted, both by himself (Parsons [1960] 1967, Parsons 1971, 74, 78) and by others (Smith 1973), that Parsons picked up differentiation theory where Durkheim left off. However, it is worth noting that Parsons also saw himself as a vehicle for Weber's perspective on social change. While I maintain that Parsons's theory is Durkheimian in its most fundamental sense, in a sense Parsons's self-awareness must be honored. The substantive formulations in Parsons' evolutionary writings cannibalize Weber's theory of change in an extraordinary way. Nobody ever took Weber's institutional theory so seriously; Someone followed the implications just as carefully or struggled to find a model in which to relate and explain them. Herein lies the paradox of Parsons' theory of differentiation. For while Parsons finds his critical proofs and illustrations in Weber's institutional work, he never theorizes from the institutional and procedural level as such.[4]Weber's work fuels Parsons's improved theory of differentiation, but it never threatens to replace Durkheim's approach as such.

It's a good shot to be sure. Parsons' explanation of change is far superior to Durkheim's because it can be formulated in the terms that Weber provides. A schematic generalization is found in Durkheim, and even in the most historical of his works (eg Durkheim [1938] 1977) changes from one historical phase to another are described schematically. In Parsons' theory (1966, 1971), differentiation is shown in relation to actors, groups, institutions, social movements, civilizations and States. As a result, Parsons can provide a much more intuitive reconstruction of the modern world than Durkheim. He manages to show what Durkheim only hinted at, namely the extraordinary distance traveled from gang societies to contemporary societies. Parsons thus succeeds in legitimizing the significant foundations of modern life.

[4] Thus, the indexes of the major works that Parsons (1966, 1971) devotes to history as differentiation contain far more references to Weber than to Durkheim, and in the introduction to the second of these works he notes that it is "entitled Geist von Weber " (1971, 2). But he immediately puts it into perspective: "An important difference in perspective has been dictated by the connection between organic evolution and human society and culture." Parsons is referring here to the evolutionary theory of Adaptation and Differentiation, which he borrowed from Durkheim's work in the most direct sense.


It is impossible to convey here the nuances and complexity of this Parsonian account, but I can offer some indication of the scope and coherence of its overall scheme. For Parsons, historical evolution implies what might be called a defamiliarization of the world. In gang societies, kinship relationships define important social, cultural, and even psychological activities. Totemism is a good example. As an animal or plant symbol of ethnic identity and "religion". It merges the pack's existence with the natural world as well as human kinship. It is not surprising, argues Parsons, that prohibitions such as the incest taboo play such a crucial role in society, since the mix of social and kinship criteria makes behavior diffuse, particularistic, affective and, above all, prescriptive and attached. . For societies to become more flexible and individualized, they must make these "blood-related" traits a much smaller part of social life. To do this, the importance of kinship must be drastically reduced.

This mixed situation changes when one of the two lines that usually make up a gang tries to improve its status. Marriage exchange equality is changed; There is restricted marriage within the lineage and other resources are also controlled. On the one hand, there is stratification and inequality. On the other hand, as power itself has become the basis for defining the expansion of kinship ties, it opens up the possibility of more powerful and adaptive forms of leadership and social control. Property emerges and kinship becomes strategically subordinated to it. States are designed to protect the excess wealth of the ruling line, but Parsons emphasizes that this too is a differentiation, for at this point the institutional structure of politics can no longer be deduced from the very nature of kinship.

Furthermore, these economic and political developments cannot be sustained without a religion much more elaborate and independent of kinship than totemism. This new religion must encompass non-marital lineages and must explain and justify social hierarchy and inequality. He does this by not only formulating a broader and more nuanced conception of the supernatural realm, but also developing a more general conception of "the people." Another result of the initial formation of stratification is the emergence of an unfamiliar conception of social community for the first time. A territorial reference to the human community develops, strongly emphasizing the group in contrast to the lineage.

These processes continue in archaic and historical societies. Religion becomes more formal and abstract. Cults arise, as do other groups with specifically religious ambitions. Eventually, churches and institutions with highly specialized religious personnel appear. The policy also makes the difference even more. It is increasingly impersonal and bureaucratic, both


to gain control of the privileged class, which means placating lower-class groups by developing primitive welfare functions and ensuring the security of larger areas and the continued productivity of economic life. Economic life is divided more functionally and stratification increases. Heterogeneous groupings are developing within the already established area of ​​“national” solidarity. They are segmented horizontally and vertically. While these developments provide for a more flexible and productive social organization, they also create new levels of hierarchy and inequality. Aristocracies represent the continuing nexus of role and kinship, and new forms of government emerge, such as royalty and the church, merging control over different states.

In early modern and modern times, especially in the West, these intermediate stages of social development are taken much further. The Reformation shifted religion to a more abstract and less institutionalized position. The advent of parliaments and the common law makes government more independent of social groups and the economic situation. Finally, with the advent of citizenship, social solidarity becomes more independent of effective position in different fields. The progress of universal education makes culture even more universal and accessible, regardless of person and origin. Competition, rather than traditional connections or personal charisma, becomes the arbiter of authority. The organization of technical knowledge through professional authority forms a systematic counterweight to the hierarchical power derived from bureaucracies and the monetary power derived from markets.

By having a hand on Weber's shoulder, Parsons was able to describe the stages of differentiation with far more precision and concreteness than Durkheim himself could. Durkheim's problem, however, remains. Parsons was mostly mentored by Durkheim in general.division of workBook 1. Like Durkheim before him, Parson's general theory provides no explanation of how change occurs. To suggest that a more differentiated institution, because it is more effective and flexible, will eventually evolve to deal with the problems posed by other spheres says little about the actual processes by which this new, more differentiated institution actually operates. Parsons recognizes the imbalance. He is concerned with 'the structural order of social data', he argues (1966, 112), not primarily with 'the analysis of processes and change'. However, he seems unaware of the intellectual difficulties that such a position entails. His insistence (1966, 111) that "structural analysis must have some precedence over the analysis of processes and changes" recalls his firm statement inthe social system(Parsons 1951) that stability analysis must precede stability analysis


change. However, the seeming inadequacy of this earlier claim is what led Parsons to the differentiation theory just described. The problem now seems to have reappeared in a new form. Although he subscribes to a theory of social change, the morphology of change must come first, not its dynamics.

But whatever Parsons' personal leanings, such a separation is impossible. book 1 ofclassificationBook 2 followed, though Durkheim never managed to intelligibly connect them. There is no second book for Parsons, but there is actually an implicit theory about what some of the actual processes of change might be. Unfortunately, the tone of this unwritten second book is Darwinian in a rather vulgar sense. Parsons himself has a more subtle parallel with Darwin in mind. He suggests that, like Darwin, he is entitled to present a structural morphology of evolution without explaining how evolution occurs. This was certainly true of Darwin's work. Not having access to Mendel's theory of genetic mutation, he could only sketch the macro-constraint within which species changed. But this situation certainly does not apply to Parsons. Darwin could not theorize the evolutionary process; the knowledge just wasn't there. When Parsons writes, on the other hand, there is already a great deal of knowledge about the processes of social evolution. Parsons decides not to discuss the matter. The real parallel between Parsons and Darwin is less subtle. In his implicit theorizing of processes of social change, Parsons tries to be content with Darwin's theory of macroconstraints alone. He adopts Darwin's theory of species competition and adaptation, which Spencer called survival of the fittest. Thus, eschewing an institutional understanding of processes, Parsons' work provides clues about how and why transitions from one form to another occur. We will find that this latent perspective allows Parsons to overlook insights into change processes that he would rather not see.

For Parsons, the world is an evolving field. Societies are species. They may disappear, but finally innovation occurs: advances to more differentiated phases. As a general theory of evolutionary change, there's nothing wrong with that. The problem is that Parsons suggests that it is also a specific theory that advances in evolution actually happen to adapt to an environment. By presenting institutions and societies as problem solvers, Parsons' implicit second book takes a dangerous turn. In the long run, adaptation may be the result of a particular institutional innovation, but it is rarely the actual cause of it (see Alexander and Colomy 1985). Because Parsons incorporated many of Weber's specific and anti-theological explanations, this confusion could often be avoided. But that can't be denied


It is implicit in his work that adaptation and problem solving are ubiquitous (see Smelser 1985).

The results of his theory of change are often disastrous. Thinking that adaptation is cause and result provides an ideological patina for reflecting on the moral implications of rationalizing change. It also hides from Parsons' understanding all the theoretical implications of his decision to ignore actual processes. These ideological and theoretical difficulties come together in Parsons' sotto voce dialogue with war.

At several critical points in his evolutionary work, Parsons seems to recognize that transitions between phases of differentiation can be accomplished through warfare. In his analysis of primitive societies, Parsons emphasizes, as I have already indicated, that upper-class lineages often depended on religious legitimacy to maintain their dominance, and he uses this fact to explain the onset of religious generalization. However, he recognizes that there is an exception to this reliance on legitimacy in cases “where one group subjugates another group by military conquest” (Parsons 1966, 44). Try to expand this circumstance in a revealing way. Although domination through conquest "may have played an important roleLaw Suitof social change", he emphasizes, military conquest is out of the question "differentiationin today's sense" (emphasis mine). The conquerors in such situations are "an alien group, not a structural segment of the original society." The implications of their understanding of the meaning of war are secondary. not differentiation; of course, these conquerors do not belong. to the local society, but to a foreign group, of course, at some point this conquering group itself needs religious legitimation, but all this does not negate the crucial fact that the transition to a more complex society is often the result of wars.

What if we knew that the transition from gang societies to stratified societies is often accompanied by political oppression and savage violence? That doesn't change the fact that this transition will bring more differentiation and flexibility. However, this knowledge certainly changes our understanding of the meaning and implications of differentiation itself.

By downplaying process in his theory of change, Parsons can deny the centrality of war in human history (see, for example, MacNeill 1982). Of course, military conquest is not only practiced by conquering bands. Even different societies have gone through dark times and the massive destruction of their civilizations. No matter what innovations a group creates, its survival is not guaranteed. Even if a company is significantly more


more differentiated than its surroundings, one of its neighbors can develop militarily in a much more strategic direction at this historic moment.

Parsons misses this because he confuses differentiation with adaptive success. When he cannot avoid historical catastrophes, he becomes awkwardly Whiggish and analyzes them from the perspective of the comfortable present. He writes (1966, 130) that "the NS movement, despite its immense mobilization of power, seems to have been an acute sociopolitical disturbance, but not a source of great future structural patterns." But what does "seems to have been" mean? If a repressive system is defeated on the battlefield, it does not mean that its characteristics will be less adaptable in the short term. World War II historians have suggested that if certain eventualities had played out differently, the Nazis might well have been victorious. Its cruel and reactionary structures would certainly have established the dominant social patterns across Europe for an uncertain period of time.

By ignoring processes such as war, Parsons' theory of differentiation fails to understand the fundamental role of backwardness and structural fusion in constructing the history of the modern world. Sandwiched between his elegiac accounts of the Renaissance and the Reformation, on the one hand, and his glowing analysis of the industrial and democratic revolutions, on the other, Parsons's book (1971, 50-54) barely runs four pages on the Counter-Reformation and its enormous social impact and cultural life. Indeed, after analyzing the democratic revolution in France, Parsons proceeds directly to his analysis of how the high degree of social and cultural differentiation has stabilized American and Western European nations in our time. The clear implication is that steady progress was made, "problems" like the Counter-Reformation arose and were resolved through cultural and institutional adjustments.

However, it could be argued that it's just the opposite. It took hundreds of years to destroy the impact of the Counter-Reformation, itself a response to early modern differentiation. Divisions emerged across Europe, murderous and protracted conflicts broke out between nations, and patterns of cultural particularity and social authoritarianism emerged. The great wars of the 20th century must be seen in this context. It was not adjustment by differentiation that brought an end to authoritarian systems entrenched in reaction to the Renaissance and Reformation, but more or less continuous wars and revolutions (Maier 1975). In the 20th century, war produced not only the restored democratic systems that Parsons extols, but totalitarian and repressive states as well.


However, by ignoring judgment and war, Parsons does not simply commit the sin of bloodshed. He also fails to develop a strong and coherent theory of social change. Concluding his work on modern societies, he acknowledges (1971, pp. 140-141) that "it is clear that there has been much conflict, 'borderline' primitivism and backwardness in some of the older parts of the system relative to the more progressive parts. " ". He even admits that "certainly the history of modern systems has been one of frequent, if not continual, warfare." The following conclusion reveals a startling inconsistencyuntilThe social system in which the evolutionary process that we have been tracing took place was subject to high levels of violence, especially in war, but also internally, including revolutions” (emphasis in the original). As I have just suggested, this important point is precisely what Parsons' history of the modern world has failed to explain.

I spent a lot of time on the unwritten second book of Parsons' Theory of Change. One reason is that it makes the problems with Parsons' unwritten third so clear. In his third book, Durkheim developed a compelling, if theoretically contradictory, account of the tensions that threatened the social and moral balance of his age. However, as Parsons emphasizes adaptation through differentiation, he cannot do anything of the sort.

I think it's worth noting that this wasn't always the case. In what I have called the "middle period" of Parsons' work, which spanned the late 1930s through the late 1940s and led to a series of essays on modern society (Parsons 1954b), Parsons' writings on social change were markedly critical. (see Alexander 1981b; Alexander 1983, 61-71). He did not write about differentiation as such, but in light of his later work he clearly had differentiation in mind. The tensions between home and office, the discontinuous and gendered processes of socialization that this separation implied, the abstraction and rationalization of modern culture, discipline and labor market orientation: these were institutional developments that Parsons would later call differentiation, which he described as enormous problems considered for the modern world. They led to the distortion of gender identities and relations, interpersonal alienation and aggression, bitter ethnic and racial conflicts, even war (see, for example, Parsons 1954a). Amidst the period from world economic crisis to fascism and world war, Parsons saw differentiation as the cause of social problems and upheavals. However, in the post-war period of equilibrium, he saw differentiation as a solution to problems.

Since past tensions are underestimated in Parsons' theory of differentiation, present tensions cannot be represented. At the


Parsons' later account of the fear and pathos that continue to define the 20th century simply does not exist. It is not that Parsons, like Durkheim, recognizes these problems but does not integrate their explanation into his general theory. In fact, Parsons fails to write Durkheim's third book. His theory lacks an evolutionary conception of historically specific tensions and conflicts. Thus, although he argues plausibly against Marx's feudalism-capitalism-socialism trichotomy, he fails to distinguish his own coherent phase. Parsons refers to the "coming phases" of modernization and the "major changes . what these stages are. and the changes could.

As for the contemporary period, it seems that Parsons is not so much interested in explaining change as in changing explanations. In the closing pages of his Studies in Evolution, he attacks "widespread" pessimism about the survival of modern societies...particularly among intellectuals" and suggests that the aim of his work should be understood as "reasoning sufficient doubts about the validity of such points of view. Once again there is a surreptitious look at the taboo of war. Parsons recognizes "the undeniable possibility of overwhelming destruction". But the possibility of a war in the future is no more tracked than its reality has been tracked in the past.

Parsons sees the 20th century as a time of opportunity and achievement, not mass destruction and all-out war. In the last phase of his life he became an American pragmatist "can do", an irrepressible evangelical who is convinced that the future must be humanly shaped. "Our assessment is relatively optimistic," concludes Parsons. The problem is that you cannot pinpoint exactly the historical period you are bullish on. His general theory certainly established the significant validity of "modern society". However, its inability to explain institutional processes and participate in broader historical explanations has made it impossible to know whether this meaningful social structure will ever be viable.

In the midst of the Great Depression, classical economists predicted that Say's Law was still valid. In the long run, they continued, demand would rebalance supply and collapsing capitalist economies would recover. Keynes replied that, in the long run, we are all dead; The problem was short-term. In our lives, Keynes showed, there is only partial equilibrium, and Say's law does not always apply. Even the greatest civilizations could not survive without a short-term confrontation with pathologies. Durkheim's second and third books must be systematically written and integrated into the first.


4. Theoretical review and Durkheim's problem

In the polarized political climate of the 1960s and 1970s, Parsons' version of differentiation theory became increasingly difficult to sustain. It has been contested in the name of a procedurally and historically specific theoretical construct (eg, Nisbet 1969; Smith 1973). Theorists have wanted to talk about specific events like the French Revolution (Tilly 1967) and precise variations in national outcomes (Moore 1966). They wanted to explain certain uneven phases and developments, for example the rise of the capitalist world system in early modern Europe (Wallerstein 1974) and the monopoly phase of capitalism (Baran and Sweezy 1966). They wanted to be able to talk about how modernization creates systemic conflicts and tensions (Gusfield 1963; Gouldner 1979). Interactionists and resource mobilization theorists (Turner 1964, Gamson 1968) claimed the centrality of social movements and, on that basis, developed explanations of the magnitude of change that went far beyond any of Parsons' work. Conflict theorists (Collins 1975, Skocpol 1979) developed theories of state formation and revolution that were much more historically specific and comparatively accurate.

In addition, there was a general shift in ideological tone. Theories became more critical and sober about the possibility that change would take a satisfactory course. These challenges insisted that Durkheim's second and third books must be written. Eventually, Marxism redacted many of these particular theories and also questioned Parsons' first book. As I indicated earlier, Marxism is remarkably successful in linking general and specific theories of change. In the 1960s and early 1970s, a period of turbulent social liberation movements, the elegance of Marxist theory also seemed empirically compelling.

The empirical theory of science, which still today legitimizes most of the social sciences, maintains that theories live and die by falsification. However, as Kuhn (1969), Lakatos (1969), and other post-positivist philosophers and historians of science have shown, even in the natural sciences falsification cannot refute any general theory, or at least in practice generally cannot. Lakatos has developed the most plausible description of how counterfeit resistance arises (cf. Wagner and Berger 1985). Theorists distinguish between the core notions of a theory, which are positions considered essential to the theory's identity, and other more peripheral commitments. In the face of studies that challenge some of their important commitments, theorists support the viability of their general theories by discarding fringe issues and defending core concepts. They try to absorb the challenges by revising and elaborating on these new points of view. Of course, this type of defense is only one possibility. If effective support


process actually takes place depends on the empirical actors and the social and intellectual conditions at a given time.

When differentiation theory first faced challenges to both its predictions and its explanation, it looked as if no successful defense would occur. Parsons himself was never able to throw out the weaknesses of his general theory of change or expand it ambitiously. Faced with the choice of abandoning the theory or modifying it, many functionalists have simply left it behind. A theory can be abandoned even if it is not refuted, and the implications for the course of scientific development are similar.

Some of the most important early work by Parsons' students can be seen as attempts to clarify the theory in writing Parsons' second book. Smelser (1959) and Eisenstadt (1963) discussed differentiation according to significant historical events and elaborated specific processes of change; Bellah (1969) and Smelser (1963) addressed the problems of specific institutional areas. While these studies were important investigations of change in their own right, they did not go far enough as theoretical reviews. Finally, Smelser and Eisenstadt separated the core of differentiation theory from the periphery in a much more radical way. Eisenstadt (1964) insisted that general theories of differentiation cannot be dissociated from concepts of specific social processes. He showed (cf. Alexander and Colomy 1985) that there are certain groups that carry certain types of differentiation and that the interest structures and ideological conceptions of these groups determine the actual course of differentiation. He insisted on the comparative and historical specificity of differentiation and accorded a permanent mediating role to civilizational factors such as culture (cf. Eisenstadt 1982, 1986). Smelser also initiated a fundamental critique from within. In his work on higher education in California, he insisted that differentiation could be seen as a self-limiting process. He emphasized resistance to differentiation and outlined a theory of the symbiotic relationship between differentiation and selfish elites. Finally, Smelser (1985) attacked the problem-solving structure of Parsons' own theory of differentiation.

These criticisms were intellectually strong but, at least initially, they did not have a significant impact on the debate in the field of social change. In the late 1970s, this situation began to change. Several factors played a role:

1. The luster of the more institutional and phase-oriented theories that provoked the backlash to Parsons' work has begun to fade. Neo-Marxist theories about the capitalist world system, for example, were challenged by rising economic growth in any Third World country.


United Nations and the fact that the risk of an imminent global economic crisis has gradually diminished. For its part, the prospects of conflict seemed to have underestimated the resilience of capitalist and democratic institutions. Weber's focus on institutional processes and social tensions began to look plausible again.

2. These developments created tensions between the general theory of Marxism and its more specific predictions and explanations. Ideological developments also diminished the political appeal not only of Marxism's broader conclusion, but also of his theory of phase-specific tension.

3. A new generation of theorists emerged who were not personally involved in the revolt against differentiation theory and modernization theory in general; Therefore, they had no interest in continuing the controversy.[5]

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, the revision of differentiation theory signaled by the work of Smeler and Eisenstadt became clearer and more widespread.[6]This work originated in Germany (Schluchter 1979; Luhmann 1981, 1987; Münch 1982, 1989) and the United States (Rueschemeyer 1977; Robertson 1978; Alexander 1978). These reviews share the common assumption that differentiation provides an intuitively meaningful framework for understanding the nature of the modern world. But it is the efforts to relate this general model to stage-specific institutions, processes, and tensions that preoccupy most differentiation theorists today.[7]

One group of efforts focused specifically on the issue of phase-specific conflicts and tensions. In fact, Gould (1985) was the first to formulate it.

[5] It is telling of the generic qualities that different approaches to change share that the leading writers of this new generation have criticized Marxism for the same reasons I criticized Parsons himself. Giddens (1986), for example, argues that Marxism is too evolutionary in its history and ignores the centrality of war. Indeed, the fact that Marx and even Weber (except Alexander 1987) ignored the centrality of war to social change indicates that the problem goes beyond the difficulties of Durkheim's problem and leads to deeply entrenched blinders of an ideological nature. For more parallels between the recent critique of Marxist theory of change and Parsons' critique, see my discussion of Marxist theory of change earlier in this chapter.

[6] Colomy (1989b) has provided the most comprehensive review of these new developments in differentiation theory and the criticisms to which they respond.

[7] However, this does not seem to apply to Luhmann's program. Luhmann certainly differs from Parsons in the intensity with which he worked the effects of differentiation in various institutional areas, such as law, religion, family and political life. However, he was unable to link his general theory more closely to institutional processes or phase-specific tensions. Although I cannot examine Luhmann's impressive corpus in detail here, I believe that the framework proposed in this chapter can also be used to critically examine Luhmann's work.


the specificity of this theoretical task in his Prolegomena to a Theory of Social Crisis, and developed it into a study of the capitalist and patrimonial origins of the English Revolution (Gould 1987). Lechner (1985, 1989) used differentiation theory to find indicators of contemporary fundamentalist movements and, more generally, of structural responses to modernity. Mayhew (1984, 1989) has developed a notion of a differentiated public that corresponds to the early modern origins of capitalist society.

Other developments focus more in Durkheim's second book on the connection of differentiation with specific theories of institutional behavior and change processes. Champagne (1989) has formulated a complex explanatory model for the failures and successes of differentiation in certain Native American societies, and Rhoades (1989) has explained why the differentiation of higher education systems has been blocked by the specific national organization of professional and government sectors. . Colomy (1982, 1985, 1989a) developed the most ambitious program in this regard. He developed a theory of "unequal structural differentiation" and explained actual forms of differentiation in terms of "institutional blueprints" developed by strategic social groups. He systematically explains the forces that make up these projects, distinguishing between institutional, conservative, and accommodative entrepreneurs.

There is still a very wide gulf between this new wave of differentiation theory and the real tensions and conflicts that characterize change in the world today. Obviously, social science must be separated from the direct concerns of everyday life. However, a clear and identifiable connection must be made, particularly when theorizing about social change. Only this connection anchors the theorizing in the effervescence of everyday life, and only this relevance of value makes such theorizing convincing and true. I will end with some illustrations of the connections I have in mind.

Even in relatively developed countries, the autonomy of the social community – its demarcation from religious, indigenous, political and economic spheres – is faltering. In liberal capitalist nations, for example, the mass media are still partially merged with political, economic, and ethnic groups (Alexander 1980). Furthermore, even if a certain degree of autonomy is achieved, social stability cannot be the result. Even in relatively discrete social communities, certain defined core groups continue to occupy privileged positions (Alexander 1980). As exclusion from this core persists for religious, ethnic and social class reasons, struggles for inclusion are not finite episodes, but permanent and inescapable features of modern life.


In other words, it can be argued that differentiation in contemporary "modern" societies still has a long way to go. Contemporary activities in almost all areas of society can be understood in this way. While kinship and blood have undoubtedly diminished greatly in terms of civilization, the importance of gender in almost all spheres of modern society shows that there is still much of an amalgamation. In this sense, feminist movements can be seen as efforts to separate kinship and biology from assessments of competence, and therefore from the distribution of economic, political, and cultural goods (cf. Walzer 1983, 227-42). Current struggles for workers' control and participation can be seen in a similar way. While public government in democratic societies has gained some independence from economic control, private government – ​​for example, the organization of power in factories and organizations – remains dominated by market criteria in corporate economic life (Walzer 1983, 281-312). ). It remains to be seen how clearly private government can be differentiated, but an autonomous and participatory political sphere can certainly be expanded (Siriani 1981).

Recognizing that differentiation is a process underpinned by contemporary social change movements suggests that differentiation theory needs to develop a conception of social polarization. Differentiation is demanded by elite and mass coalitions and rejected by other coalitions that benefit from less differentiated structural and cultural arrangements. In the course of this polarization crises arise (Alexander 1984). Depending on the structural requirements, there is revolution, reform or reaction (Alexander 1981b).

The refusal to identify differentiation with the Western status quo and the access that this refusal opens up to a more systematic understanding of conflict appears most dramatically when attention shifts from the national to the international level. As I hinted at above, the emergence of more powerful and adaptable social systems was not only spurred by war but, in turn, laid the groundwork for much more continuous, widespread, and deadly warfare (see Collins 1986a). Not only can the internal causes of war become the subject of differentiation theory; the same can happen with the international social control of war. The world system is not only an economic order, but also a social one. Differentiation theory suggests that social systems can control conflict only by creating relatively autonomous regulatory mechanisms. From this perspective, the current world system remains in a primitive and archaic form. Ur-solidarities predominate and possibilities for intrasystemic regulation are conceived only regionally. The relationship between this flawed regulatory system and war is an important but largely unexplored issue for differentiation theory. War is only removed until


Degree to which the world-system replicates the processes of differentiation -albeit incomplete- that transformed the framework of national societies.

Contemporary struggles and tensions need not be conceived solely in terms of remaining structural and cultural fusions. Achieving differentiation does not eliminate social problems, but moves them to another level. For example, even when the media are independent, they are subject to dramatic fluctuations in their reliability (Alexander 1981a) and can therefore amplify and distort current information. The resulting competition between the autonomous media and other powerful institutions also creates multiple opportunities for corruption. Similar tensions affect the relationship between autonomous universities and their host societies. Once the university is committed to defending the autonomy of scientific or cognitive rationality, conflicts over the university's moral obligations to society can take new and extraordinarily vexing forms (Alexander 1986).

In the social sciences, general theories are never refuted. Instead, like the proverbial old soldier, they simply disappear. For a long time it looked as if this would be the fate of differentiation theory. In this chapter, I have argued that this is not the case. I have indicated that the difficulties he encountered are those of any ambitious theory of social change, and, after examining Durkheim's classic work,The division of labor in societyI have called these difficulties "the Durkheim problem." Parson's revisions of Durkheim's original paper went in many ways beyond the substance of Durkheim's theory, but they did not resolve Durkheim's problem in a more general sense. In fact, Parsons didn't handle this problem very well. Weberian ideas addressed this problem in an important way, neglecting other aspects. Marxism tackles Durkheim's problem more successfully, but its empirical implausibility, as I have suggested, undermines its considerable theoretical power. In response to these difficulties, as well as internally generated revisions, a new round of differentiation theory began. It is true that he tackles Durkheim's problem most effectively. Whether he can solve his problem and maintain his credibility remains to be seen.


Alexander, Jeffrey C. 1978. Formal and Substantive Voluntarism in the Work of Talcott Parsons.American Sociological Journal43: 177–98.

Alexander, Jeffrey C. 1978. Core Solidarity, Ethnic Outgroup, and Structural Differentiation: Towards a Multidimensional Model of Inclusion in Modern Societies. At theNational


and ethnic movementshead. James Dofny and Akinsola, 5–28. Beverly Hills: Salbey.

Alexander, Jeffrey C. 1981a. The mass media in a systemic, historical and comparative perspective. At themedia and social changeEd. Elihu Katz and Thomas Szecsko, 17–52. Beverly Hills: Wise.

Alexander, Jeffrey C. 1981b. Revolution, Reaction, and Reform: Parsons' Middle Period Theory of Change.sociological research5:267–80.

Alejandro, Jeffrey C. 1983.Theoretical logic in sociology. banda 4,The Modern Reconstruction of Classical Thought: Talcott Parsons. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Alexander, Jeffrey C. 1984. Three models of culture-society relations: towards an analysis of the Watergate crisis.sociological theory2:290–314.

Alexander, Jeffrey C., Hrsg. 1985.neofunctionalism. Beverly Hills: Salbei.

Alexander, Jeffrey C. 1986. The University and Morality: A Revisited Approach to University Autonomy and Its Limits.Higher Education Magazine57, nº. 5:463–76.

Alexander, Jeffrey C. 1987. The Dialectic of Individuation and Domination: Max Weber's Theory of Rationalization and Beyond. At theMax Weber, Rationality and Modernity,Ed. Sam Whimster e Scott Lash Londres: Allen and Unwin.

Alexander, Jeffrey C. 1989. Introduction. At thedifferentiation theory and social change,Edited by Jeffrey C. Alexander and Paul Colomy, 1–15. New York: Columbia University Press.

Alexander, Jeffrey C. e Paul Colomy. 1985. Toward Neo-Functionalism: Eisenstadt's Theory of Change and Symbolic Interactionism.sociological theory3:11–23.

Alexander, Jeffrey C. e Paul Colomy., Hrsg. 1989.Theory of differentiation and social change. Nova York: Columbia University Press.

Baran, Paul and Paul Sweezy. 1966.monopoly capital. New York: Monthly Review.

Bethham, David. 1974.Max Weber and the theory of modern politics. Londres: Allen e Unwin.

Bellah, Robert N. 1969.Amazing. Nova York: Random House.

Bendix, Reinhard. 1961.Max Weber: an intellectual portrait. Nueva York: Doubleday-Anker.

Bendix, Reinhard. 1964.Building the Nation and Citizenship. Nueva York: Doubleday-Anker.

BRUBAKER, Rogers. 1984.The limits of rationality: an essay on Max Weber's social and moral thought. Londres: Allen e Unwin.

Champagne, Dwayne. 1989. Culture, Differentiation, and the Environment: Social Change in Tlingit Society. At thedifferentiation theory and social change,Edited by Jeffrey C. Alexander and Paul Colomy, 52–87. New York: Columbia University Press.

Collins, Randal. 1975.sociology of conflict. Nova York: Academic Press.

Collins, Randal. 1986a.Sociological theory, catastrophe research and war.. Document presented at the Symposium on Social Structure and Disasters, June 15-16. May, at the College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, Virginia.

Collins, Randal. 1986b.weberian sociological theory. Cambridge University Press.

Cologne, Paul. 1982. Stunted Differentiation: A Sociological Study of Political Elites in Virginia, 1720–1850. doctor Diss., Department of Sociology, University of California, Los Angeles.

Cologne, Paul. 1985. Unequal Differentiation. At theneofunctionalism,edited by Jeffrey C. Alexander, 131–156. Beverly Hills: Salbei.


Cologne, Paul. 1989a. Review and progress in differentiation theory. At thedifferentiation theory and social change,Edited by Jeffrey C. Alexander and Paul Colomy, 465–95. New York: Columbia University Press.

Cologne, Paul. 1989b. Strategic groups and political differentiation in the prewar United States. At thedifferentiation theory and social change,Edited by Jeffrey C. Alexander and Paul Colomy, 222–64. New York: Columbia University Press.

Durkheim, Emil. [1893] 1933.The division of labor in society. Nova York: Free Press.

Durkheim, Emil. [1938] 1977.The evolution of pedagogical thinking.. Londres: Routledge und Kegan Paul.

Eisenstadt, S.N. 1963.The political system of empires. Nova York: Free Press.

Eisenstadt, S. N. 1964. Institutionalization and social change.American Sociological Journal29:235–47.

Eisenstadt, SN 1982. The Axial Age: The Creation of Transcendental Visions and the Rise of the Clergy.European Journal of Sociology23:294–314.

Eisenstadt, S.N. 1986A sociological approach to comparative civilizations: the development and direction of a research program. Jerusalem: Hebrew University.

Evans, Peter B., Dietrich Rüschemeyer and Theda Skocpol, editores 1985.reintroduce state. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

GAMSON, William. 1968.power and dissatisfaction. Homewood, Illinois: Dorsey Press.

Giddens, Anthony, 1981.A contemporary critique of historical materialism. vol. 1,power, property and status. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Giddens, Antonio. 1986.A contemporary critique of historical materialism. vol. 2,Nation State and Violence. London: Macmillan.

Gold Mark. 1985. Prolegomena to future theories of social crises. At theneofunctionalism,edited by Jeffrey C. Alexander, 57–71. Beverly Hills: Salbei.

Gold Mark. 1987.Revolution in the development of capitalism. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Gouldner, Alvin W. 1979.the new class. Nova York: Seabury.

Gusfield, Joseph. 1963.Symbolic Crusade. Champaign-Urbana: University of Illinois Press.

Habermas, Jurgen. 1984the theory of communicative action. vol. 1. Boston: Beacon Press.

KUEHN, Thomas. 1969The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Lakatos, Imre. 1969. Critique and Methodology of Scientific Research Programs.Annals of the Aristotelian Society69: 149–86.

Lecher, Frank. 1985. Modernity and its dissatisfaction. At theneofunctionalism,edited by Jeffrey C. Alexander, 157–176. Beverly Hills: Salbei.

Lecher, Frank. 1989. Fundamentalism and Sociocultural Revitalization: On the Logic of Dedifferentiation. At thedifferentiation theory and social change,Ed. Jeffrey C. Alexander e Paul Colomy, 88–118. Nova York: Columbia University Press.

Luhmann, Niklas. 1981.The differentiation of society.. Nova York: Columbia University Press.

Luhmann, Niklas. 1987. The evolutionary distinction between society and interaction. At theThe micro-macro connection,Ed. J. Alexander, B. Giesen, R. Münch e N. Smelser, 112-31. Berkeley: University of California Press.


MacNeill, William H. 1982.The Pursuit of Power: Technology, the Military, and Society Since A.D. 1000.. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Maier, Karl. 1975.Redesigning bourgeois Europe. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

MAYHEW, Leon. 1984. In Defense of Modernity: Talcott Parsons and the Utilitarian Tradition.american sociology magazine89: 1273-1305.

MAYHEW, Leon. 1989. The differentiation of the solidary public. At thedifferentiation theory and social change,Jeffrey C. Alexander and Paul Colomy edition, 294–322. New York: Columbia University Press.

MORO, Barrington. 1966.The social origins of dictatorship and democracy. Boston: Beacon Press.

MUNCH, Richard. 1982. Talcott Parsons and the Theory of Action. Part 2.american sociology magazine87: 771–826.

MUNCH, Richard. 1989. Differentiation, rationalization and interpenetration: three fundamental characteristics of the emergence of modern societies. At thedifferentiation theory and social change,Edition by Jeffrey C. Alexander and Paul Colomy, 441–464. New York: Columbia University Press.

It jumped, Robert. 1969.Social change and history.. Londres: Oxford University Press.

Parsons, Talcott. 1951.the social system. Nova York: Free Press.

Parsons, Talcott. 1954a. Certain primary sources and patterns of aggression in the social structure of the western world. At theessays on sociological theory,por Talcott Parsons, 298-322. Nova York: Free Press.

Parsons, Talcott. 1954b.essays on sociological theory. Nova York: Free Press.

Parsons, Talcott. [1960] 1967. Durkheim's contribution to the theory of social systems integration. At theSociological theory and modern society,por Talcott Parsons, 3-34. Nova York: Free Press.

Parsons, Talcott. 1966.Societies: Evolutionary and Comparative Perspectives. Englewood Cliffs, Nova Jersey: Prentice-Hall.

Parsons, Talcott. 1971.The system of modern societies.. Englewood Cliffs, Nova Jersey: Prentice-Hall.

Rhodes, Gary. 1989. Political Competition and Differentiation in Higher Education. At thedifferentiation theory and social change,Edition by Jeffrey C. Alexander and Paul Colomy, 187–221. New York: Columbia University Press.

Robertson, Roland. 1978.Importance and change: studies in the cultural sociology of modern societies.. Nova York: Oxford University Press.

Ruschemeyer, Dietrich. 1977. Structural differentiation, efficiency and performance.american sociology magazine83: 1–25.

Asleep, Wolfgang. 1979. The paradoxes of rationalization. At theMax Weber's vision of history,Ed. Günther Roth and Wolfgang Schluchter, 11–64. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Goerger, Wolfgang. 1981The Rise of Western Rationalism: The Developmental Story of Max Weber. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Sewell, William H., Jr. 1980.Work and revolution in France: the language of work from the Old Regime to 1848. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Siriani, Carmen. 1981. Production and Power in a Classless Society: A Critical Analysis of the Utopian Dimensions of Marxist Theory.socialist magazine59:33–82.


Skocpol, Theda. 1979.States and social revolutions. Nova York: Cambridge University Press.

Smelser, Neil J. 1959.Social change in the industrial revolution. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Smelser, Neil J. 1963.The sociology of economic life.. Englewood Cliffs, Nova Jersey: Prentice-Hall.

Smelser, Neil J. 1973. Afterword: Sociostructural dimensions of higher education. At thethe American University,Edited by Talcott Parsons and Gerald Platt, 389–422. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Smelser, Neil J. 1974. Growth, Structural Change, and Conflict in California Higher Education, 1950–1970. At thepublic higher education in California,edited by Neil J. Smelser and Gabriel Almond, 9–141. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Smelser, Neil J. 1985. Evaluation of the structural differentiation model in relation to educational change in the 19th century. At theneofunctionalism,edited by Jeffrey C. Alexander, pp. 113–130. Beverly Hills: Salbei.

Smith, Anton. 1973The concept of social change: a critique of the functionalist theory of change. Londres: Routledge und Kegan Paul.

Tilly, Karl. 1967.Vendee. Nova York: Willey.

Touraine, Alain, François Dubet, Michel Wieviorka and Jan Strzelecki. 1983Solidarity: Analysis of a Social Movement: Poland, 1980–1981. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press and Paris: Editions de la Maison des Sciences de l'Homme.

Turner, Ralph H. 1964. Conflict and Collective Behavior.sociological district5:122–32.

Wagner, David G. and Joseph Berger. 1985. Are sociological theories growing?american sociology magazine90:697–728.

Wallerstein, Emanuel. 1974.The modern world system. Nova York: Academic Press.

WALZER, Michael. 1983.spheres of justice. Nova York: Fundamental

Weber, Max [1918] 1978. Socialism. NotMax Weber: selection of translations,edition WG Runciman, 251–62. London: Cambridge University Press.

Weber, Max [1920] 1958. Author's introduction. At theThe Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism13-31. Nova York: Scribes.


The infrastructure of modernity:
Indirect social relations, information technologies and social integration

craig calhoun

Social relationships and social integration

In the last decade, the rebirth of human geography as a major area of ​​the social sciences has brought attention to the spatial organization of social relations (see, for example, Gregory and Urry 1985). Over a somewhat longer period of time, network studies brought new power and sophistication to the analysis of concrete patterns of social relations.[1]These advances draw attention to a weakness in contemporary social theory. The study of the structures of social relations, that is, the concrete connections between social actors, has not been used to improve our understanding of social integration. Those who focus on structural analysis have been unable to show how relational patterns constitute social life and hold social institutions and populations together; they emptied problems of social integration like a baby in dirty functionalist bath water. Functionalists drew on cultural understandings of social integration, but these analyzes, at best,

An earlier version of this chapter was presented at the Second Annual German-American Conference on Sociological Theory, "Sociological Change and Modernity", August 26-28, 1986. The author welcomes comments from those who attended the conference and would like to participate, thank you for Pamela DeLargy, Bart Dredge, Anthony Giddens and Weintraub.

[1] Advances in network studies have been primarily methodological and, only to a lesser extent, empirical in nature; it is biased to speak of the "theory" of networks. Contemporary network studies in sociology are often conducted in atheoretical and positivist terms, but are based, at least implicitly, on a variety of economic or utilitarian structuralist and individualist theories. The modern network approach had its origins and some of its most fruitful work in structural-functionalist anthropology. See Barnes 1954, Mitchell 1969, and Nadel 1957. Nadel, in particular, was theoretical and challenging. The most important modern attempt to trace the theoretical foundations of network studies comes from Burt (1982).


it omits and, in the worst cases, obscures attention to the concrete patterns of social relations.[2]

This failure, or even refusal, to address social integration on the basis of concrete relational patterns is common in work across a wide range of diverging theoretical perspectives. For many cultural theorists, relational structures are a very narrow sociological concern. For others, the notion of social integration as a variable is very reminiscent of the contrastcommunityyGesellschaft. To many theorists (including some who treat utilitarianism as value-free) it seems too normative, and to others too vague and unmeasurable. In perhaps the most important contemporary attempt to develop a theory of social integration, Habermas (1984) focuses on a distinction between social/lifeworld integration and system/system integration, in which concrete social relations are seen as the raw material of the former, and that of the system. The latter is designed more cybernetically than socially relational.[3]In functionalist approaches, integration is often conceptualized as a system state that depends in part on, but differs from, interaction patterns. Obviously, in the sense of Parsons (eg, 1951), the degree of integration of a social system cannot be reduced to relational structures. In this chapter, however, I maintain that such relational structures have been neglected in comparison with other aspects of integration and have been conceptualized in a way that focuses on face-to-face interaction and obscures the idea that the relationships mediated continue to exist social relationships.

Before we can satisfactorily explain social change, we need a clearer understanding of the relational dimension of social integration and the beginning of a descriptive explanation of variation in concrete social relations. The contribution of social relations to social integration can be understood in general terms as the complex variable that measures the extent to which the actions of each person in a population imply, depend on or predict those of others.[4]It is clear that the level of social integration is not the only product

[2] I am referring not only to Parsonian functionalism, but also to Lévi-Straussian or linguistic structuralism where working in both directions suggests finding an autonomous level of logical and/or functional integration in culture. This point is even valid for Sahlins (1978), despite his intention to break completely with the functionalist problematic.

[3] “So there is a competitionnot between action typesunderstanding and success-oriented,but between principles of social integration…. Lifeworld rationalization allows for a kind of systematic integration that competes with the integrative principle of understanding and, under certain circumstances, has a disintegrating effect on the lifeworld” (Habermas 1984, 342-43, emphasis in original).

[4] Note that this definition does not in any way require feelings of affection or solidarity towards common goals or values. These are likely where social integration is high (as a result and as support), but also dissent, anger, and resentment. The key is a stable mutual resolution, not the joy of shared companionship. Note also that this definition examines the contribution of social relationships to social integration. although social

Since integration is a broader concept than social relations, I argue that more social integration can be understood through the analysis of relations than is traditionally assumed. What Parsons called the “medium of exchange” (Parsons and Platt 1973, 23–25) helps build an infrastructure of social integration. Even highly generalized media (such as money) can be understood in concrete social-relational terms rather than cybernetic terms. Where Parsons's concept of integration addresses issues of internal control and self-regulation of a social system, the present examination of social relations addresses a crucial source of capacity to control and regulate without treating them cybernetically as properties of the system. Control and regulation can often be intentional and sometimes arbitrary exercises of power. Equally infrastructurally capable, they can consider harmonious relationships between actors (eg, in Habermas's sense of destroying lifeworld integration on the basis of mutual understanding [see Note 3]) or between subsystems of action. social (in Parson's sense) as constructive by them


variations in social relationships. These relationships can vary qualitatively in type, quantitatively in density, and qualitatively and quantitatively in pattern (including relative limitations). The key is not to ignore or privilege concrete relationships as exclusively communal, and not to leave representations in reified and inert terms to large organizations.[5]I suggest that by paying attention to patterns of social relations, we can provide a rigorously sociological dimension to complement accounts of the contemporary era in terms of cultural and/or economic trends, "modernity" and/or capitalism.

The first part of this chapter takes up the classic notions of modernity, which summarize in a more or less random way the cultural, economic and social structural dimensions. I propose a conceptual distinction between direct and indirect relationships that can help clarify many of the changes involved in evocations.communitycontraGesellschaftand similar oppositions, while retaining a much clearer potential for empirical specification. Using the example of large markets and corporations in particular, I show the usefulness of this simple conceptualization, focusing on the details of important modern social institutions. At least one of these institutions, the corporation, underwent a surprisingly brief upheaval in sociological theory. I argue that one of the constitutive characteristics of modernity is the growing prevalence of indirect social relations, that is, relations constituted through mediation.

[5] Part of Habermas's reason for maintaining his strong distinction between the lifeworld and the system is to leave a reason for hope that the communicative design of lifeworld relations might embody the potential for, or (at least) resistance to, interventions of social transformation in the world. system. This is problematic (a) because it tends to accept a reified view of the system rather than theorizing it in a way that seeks to simultaneously discover and explain that reification, and (b) because it tends to overestimate the scope of actual existence. relations can be understood as a manifestation of the ideal of communicative action. In this regard, Fraser (1985) has suggested that Habermas' conception leaves little room for recognition of the mutual constitution of the lifeworld and system, such as in the way gender relations and identities are reproduced.


hypermarkets, administrative organizations and/or information technology. These relationships are increasingly becoming the basis on which society is constituted "in general terms". However, this does not mean that direct relationships disappear or lose their emotional power for the individual, but that they are delimited and therefore change their sociological meaning.

The second section of the chapter connects this analysis of changing patterns of social relations with changes in infrastructure technologies, particularly transport and communication technologies. Sociological and economic considerations of new technologies tend to focus disproportionately on production technologies and their impact on the workforce. I propose that infrastructural technologies are at least as important, and that infrastructural uses of new technologies like computers have at least as much potential for social change. Such a shift, however, appears for the present (and for the plausibly foreseeable future) to reside mainly in the continuation of trends of the past two hundred years or more, including the growing importance of indirect social relations, rather than in a reversal of trends. trends In other words, modernity continues; we are not going through an epochal transformation comparable to that initiated by industrial capitalism.[6]

The third section builds directly on this point, examining why terms like "post-industrial society" are exaggerated and pointing out a central sociological weakness of the theories on which they are based: the failure of those theories to develop an explanation of what this means. constitutes society in a post-industrial (or any other) age. In other words, theories such as Bell's (1973, 1979), in the absence of an explanation of social relations, describe the characteristics of society, but not society itself. relational analysis and problems of social integration offered by the very functionalist theories with which they are often grouped and dependent elsewhere by critics (like their ancestors in theories of industrial society).

The final section of the essay returns to the Marxist explanation of capitalism. I am trying to show that the Marxist theory of capitalism, however strong it may be, must remain a theory of part but not all of social life. Marxism lacks a theory of concrete social relations (although it does offer a strong theory of abstract commodity-mediated relations).

[6] This conclusion holds true, I would suggest, both in terms of cultural and economic as well as social and relational dimensions (although there is no real reason why all three should always covary). Cultural accounts of postmodernism tend to exaggerate (a) the contemporary novelty of anti-modern movements, which actually have a history as old as modernity, and (b) the enduring importance of cultural trends such as the preference for quantity over quantity. of quality or insignificant stories. of change as opposed to those of continuity (the latter tendency is what these stories tend to exhibit).


Format). It offers an account of the dynamic trends that capitalism imposes on modern social actors, but not an account of social integration.[7]

From kinship and community to markets and business

The contrast between country and city was an integral part of nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century social commentary (Williams, 1973). Almost everyone preferred the countryside. The countryside was clear as the chimneys of the city's factories belched black smoke; the land was morally pure while the cities were dens of iniquity; Perhaps most important, rural dwellers enjoyed genuine community and social order, while cities were chaotic, unregulated, and anonymous. Early social theorists believed that cities somehow embodied the core features of a new kind of society, and this new society stood in stark contrast to the earlier, more communal and supportive social order. Today, however, Tönnies (1887)community enterpriseIn contrast, the popular-urban continuum of Wirth (1938) and Redfield (1941) and other contrasts of tradition and modernity are familiar, as well as objects of abuse, as required vocabulary in introductory sociology textbooks. Those who attack this approach generally focus on the community or traditional side of the dichotomy (eg, Gusfield 1967, 1975). They argue that Tönnies and others' depictions of traditional community life are nostalgic and unrealistic; They also point out that the portrayal of much of the Third World as traditional rather than modern is condescending and predisposed to overlook the extent to which contemporary Third World patterns are produced by modern capitalism and international relations.[8]

Surprisingly, the sociological shortcomings of Tönnies' (and others') conception ofGesellschaftI didn't get a similar comment; the same is true for most other known binary oppositions.[9]Die

[7] Marxism's lack of consideration for social integration is not simply the result of the fact that Marxist class theory suggests fundamental social contradictions, while Parsons and other functionalists see the system of stratification as primarily integrative. The problem of social integration is not developed in Marx's work nor in most Marxists. In fact, the concrete relational dimension of internal class solidarity is little developed by Marx; When studied by other Marxists, the theoretical or conceptual underpinnings were drawn from outside Marxism and were often left in an unclear relationship to Marx's most central category theory of capitalism.

[8] This extensive literature has recently been reviewed by Worsley (1985). Wallerstein's (1974, 1979) and Frank's (1969, 1978) arguments are perhaps the most prominent. Calhoun 1978, 1980, 1983) to rescue some of the notions of community and tradition from these critical denials and from the genuine nostalgia, patronage, and error found in earlier formulations.

[9] The only real exception to this claim is the Marxist critique that most of these conceptions overlook the centrality of capitalism to "modernity".Gesellschaft.


Effects of the transition fromcommunityanGesellschaftin Tönnies's conceptualization there was above all the loss of a sense of togetherness in favor of an exaggerated individualism and a focus on instrumental relationships. Tönnies had little sociostructural basis for his idea of ​​altered personal experience, which consequently remained unsatisfactorily impressionistic.[10]Simmel's analysis of "the metropolis and psychic life" focused much more on the change in concrete social relations that accompanied the emerging social psychology of urban life ([1903] 1971]). However, his attention turned to the larger problem of the development of individuality in the modern West. His characterization of cities, like most other famous typologies of tradition and modernity, offered only a very general overview, which lacked historical specificity, or rather, which contained historical specificity in its seemingly unrecognized general description (Abu-Lughod 1969 ). To specify the experience - let alone the sociological significance - of modern urban life, we must move beyond these broad claims about sociopsychological differences to a specific analysis of the changing structure and nature of social relations.

Almost all major premodern forms of social organization were based primarily on direct interpersonal relationships. Kinship, community life and even the most stable and recurrent economic exchange relations took place in the consciousness and, in general, in the personal co-presence of human individuals. Such relationships can be more or less systematic and complex: kinship networks, for example, can link hundreds of thousands of members of traditional African societies. However, the realization of any relationship was often directly interpersonal, in contrast to its latent potential. While state apparatuses certainly existed before modern times (and have historically sprung up around the world), Giddens is certainly correct when he argues that few, if any, have been able to "rule" in the modern sense of the word. His ability to orderly govern a territory and its inhabitants was very limited.[11]This limitation was largely due to the fact that power relations could not expand

[10] In part to avoid this kind of impressionistic explanation, human ecology has gone to the opposite extreme, borrowing models from biology and developing a highly "objective" explanation that claims to view cities as a whole without reference to the interpersonal relationships that constitute them. . . Here, the key variables in human ecology were population, organization, ecology, and technology. See Duncan 1959 and Hawley 1950, 1981. Haines (1985) has provided a persuasive critique of this biological emergenism and the corresponding neglect by human ecologists of alternative "relational" approaches to their subject.

[11] Giddens 1985, 63. Such "administrative power can only be established if information encryption is applied directly to the surveillance of human activities, partially separating them from their participation in the tradition and life of the local community" ( Giddens 1985b, 47).


effective over long distances.[12]Although their cultural diversity was enormous and their differences in specific patterns of social organization considerable, premodern peoples were rarely able to establish the physical infrastructure and administrative practices necessary to build a large-scale, high-intensity social organization.

Dominant direct relationships included "primary" and "secondary" relationships, to use Cooley's language ([1909] 1962).[13]While useful for some purposes, Cooley's conceptual distinction does not adequately distinguish modernity from its predecessors. Modernity is not constituted by the presence of secondary relations or the absence of primary relations; both types exist in a variety of modern and non-modern societies. Rather, modernity is characterized by the increasing frequency, extent, and importance of indirect social relations. Large markets, tightly managed organizations, and information technology have created far more opportunities for such relationships than existed in any premodern society. This trend does not mean that direct relationships have decreased in number or that they are less meaningful or attractive to people. Rather, it means that direct relationships tend to fracture. They persist as part of the immediate world of individuals' lives, as well as a nexus of certain kinds of instrumental activities (for example, the many personal relationships that make way for or permit commercial transactions [cf. as areas of private life]. (family) , friends, however, direct interpersonal relationships organize public life less and less, that is, less and less decision-making institutions that control material resources and exercise social power.

[12] This point was recognized some time ago by Innis ([1950] 1972) in his arguments about the centrality of space media to empire building.

[13] Cooley's opposition was between relationships that linked people simply as the embodiment of particular social roles and those that involved whole people connected in ways that transcended the fragmentation of life into different spheres. See also the discussion in Nisbet and Perrin 1977. Cooley's version ofcommunity enterpriseThe dichotomy implied a Rousseauian critique of the inauthenticity of secondary relations. These and other criticisms that secondary relationships are less satisfying, less meaningful, and weaker than primary relationships are central to commonly used concepts of primary and secondary relationships. Cooley's conceptualization consists of describing an increase in the number of relationships accompanied by a deterioration in their meaningful content and social strength. There may be merit in this criticism, but it would be better to ask about the relative importance of each type of relationship in organizing different types of activities, recognizing that secondary relationships are fundamental to public life and democratic political participation, and taking into account note the characteristic difference between the two types of direct interpersonal relationships, on the one hand, and indirect relationships, on the other.


change its meaning and its sociological meaning.[14]While remaining socially, psychologically, and culturally powerful, direct relationships are no longer constitutive of society in its broadest sense.[quince]

Both Marx and Weber recognized the growing importance of indirect relations. For Marx, these relationships are characterized above

[14] For a general discussion of some of the characteristics of face-to-face versus mediated relationships, see Meyrowitz 1985. For example, he suggests that unmediated relationships more easily cluster together so that people can communicate in different styles and content. for different groups:

Combining many different audiences is a rare occurrence in face-to-face interaction, and even when it does occur (eg, at a wedding), people can usually expect a quick resumption of isolated, private interactions. However, electronic media has reorganized many social forums so that most people now connect with others in new ways... they behave differently in different social situations. (Meyrowitz 1985, 5)

This observation seems correct, but Meyrowitz's account is aimed at broadcast media (rather than computers and other electronic media that use numbers, text, and other more abstract codes). While broadcasting can indeed maintain a form of surveillance over public figures, shaping their behavior and weeding out certain "privates", two caveats seem appropriate. First, earlier forms of social control may have been at least as powerful in forcing people to adhere to consistent standards of integrity in their behavior. Television cameras may never have crept into gentlemen's clubs or Victorian brothels to shame their patrons, but standards of public decency in dress, language and the like allowed less flexibility in many respects, though enforcement was only by direct observation. . (Giddens' [1985b] Foucault-inspired account of increased surveillance capacity is also not reinforced by attention to more informal means of social control or changes in opportunities for political participation.) Second, computer-mediated communication enables a large number of personalized messages. specific audiences, as any political mailing recipient knows. While candidates speaking on TV must appeal to a certain common denominator of the "general public", those targeting different demographics for funding may frame each appeal in different, perhaps quite contradictory, ways. A wide range of statistics and other advisory services help applicants know what to find on the mailing lists of parishioners, veterans, teachers, high-income individuals, parents of school-aged children, or any of hundreds of other segments of the population. which potential donors can be categorized. Although somewhat dated (particularly in terms of the computerization of direct mail), Sabato 1981 is probably the best overview of this phenomenon.

[15] This situation is a source of modern populist politics: the politics of local communities and traditional cultural values. It is a powerful kind of politics, offering potentially radical and important visions of alternative forms of social organization. However, many of its variants are based on a combination of (1) systematic misjudgments of the possibilities for local autonomy in a world largely structured by large-scale organizations of indirect social relations and (2) systematically biased analogies between the world of social relationships, personal relationships, and large organizations of indirect relationships (eg, "balancing the US budget is like keeping your family's checkbook").


the whole system of commodity production and capital accumulation. For Weber, too, the commodity form was central, but characteristically market relations, not production relations, were central; "indirect money exchange" was prototypical:

Within the market community, each act of exchange, especially the exchange of money, is not isolated from the respective business through the actions of the individual partner, but the more rationally considered, the more it will be guided by the actions of all parties. potentially interested in the exchange. The market community as such is the most impersonal form of practical life that people can enter into together. This is not due to the inherent potential for strife between the parties interested in the market relationship. Every human relationship, even the most intimate, and although marked by the most unlimited personal devotion, is in a certain sense relative and can involve a fight with the couple... The reason for the impersonality of the market is its evidence, its orientation towards the commodity and only in relation to her. If the market can follow its own autonomous trends, its participants will not look at each other's people, but only at each other's goods; there are no fraternal or reverent commitments, nor those spontaneous human relationships sustained by personal unions. (Weber [1922] 1978, 636)

It is clear that Weber's ideal-typical market does not correspond to any reality, nor does Marx's pure model of capitalism. But each expresses a decidedly modern trend.

Weber's analysis of bureaucracy points to another similar trend: the creation of social apparatuses for rational administration. Weber tended to assume that bureaucracies would be sociogeographically concentrated; he associated them with cities and treated their development as a specification and appreciation of the role of cities as centers of power. Indeed, Weber wrote of the point in Western history when cities began to lose some of their characteristic centrality to systems of power and administration.[sixteen]In ancient empires, scattered city-states, and late feudal Europe, cities were not only (apparently) the heart of civilization, but also of power relations and commerce. Cities were the centers that could anchor indirect relationship structures in an era of minimal information technology. They could, and did, mediate between participants in distant markets.

[16] Thus, Weber was one of many classical sociologists who collectively placed urban studies at the center of sociology without acknowledging the historical specificity of the centrality of cities, particularly in the period of transition to modern capitalism and the nation-state. See Saunders 1985 for an argument that this error is repeated, at least in part (with fewer apologies), by those geographers and sociologists who would make the spatial analysis of social relations a separate field.


focal points for political and military control. As a result, they created networks of power and exchange that extended far beyond their borders. They also provided (and to a large extent still provide) the direct relationships that make indirect relationship systems work (for example, the personal relationships that link banking houses and direct communications between central government officials).[17]Cities also served public life, which consists of direct, if not necessarily intimate, relationships between strangers (Sennett 1977; Calhoun 1986). But the development of modern transportation and communication technologies, on the one hand, and the growing administrative organization and state power, on the other, meant that both economic and political activity gradually bypassed cities.[18]

In short, the power of the State was able to grow because new forms of organization and better transport and communication infrastructures (in part based on new technologies, but initially more on a strong investment in the extension of old methods) allowed the diffusion of an increasingly more and more effective around the world. the different territories of a country. This is the story that Giddens (1985b) offers at the heart of his critique of historical materialism, and it is a necessary complement to Marx's analysis of capitalism. It is a fundamental complement, but not enough.

A complete account must first recognize that the growth of the state, like the capitalist economy, developed infrastructure that could be used by ordinary people to connect with each other. Highways, trains, telegraphs, and telephones encouraged the social integration of dispersed populations, encouraged their shared participation in capitalist production and exchange, and enabled their shared subjection to state surveillance and administration. The class struggle itself, in terms of mobilization of workers organized at the same socio-geographical level

[17] Ancient and modern cities depended much more on these direct relationships because they lacked the physical and organizational infrastructure to do so. Written communication was the only means of overcoming the spatial and temporal limits of co-presence, and literacy was little widespread, especially outside the cities. In countries with limited infrastructure, technology, and organization, cities still appear to be largely aggregations of smaller populations linked almost exclusively by direct human relationships. Cities remain central (and often grow beyond their carrying capacity or the desires of their leaders) because the lack of communications, transportation, and organizational infrastructure makes it nearly impossible to create economic (and political) opportunity remotely.

[18] "The progressive aging of the city in its traditional political, economic, and military form is one of the most fundamental changes initiated—though certainly not completed—in the framework of the rise of the absolutist state" (Giddens 1985b, 97). .


hoping as capital accumulation an adequate communication infrastructure for the formation of large unions and political parties (Calhoun 1988).

Second, a complete description must also recognize that modern states are, in fact, specific (and crucial) instances of a more general phenomenon: corporations. As Giddens points out, absolutist kings differed from other traditional rulers in the crucial sense that they not only sat on the pinnacle of state power, but also symbolically built the state into their own sovereign persons: "The religious symbolism of 'divine right' should really be seen as a traditional accessory to something entirely new: the development of 'government' in the modern sense, with the figure of the ruler being a personalized expression of a secularized administrative entity” (1985b, 93f.). Kantorowicz (1956) wanted say in his brilliant exposition of the late medieval doctrine of the king's 'two bodies', one personal and one public. 1900] 1958) (which is still common to Roman Catholic bishops and other ecclesiastical nobles). any legal need for personification. On this and other grounds, corporations (beginning at least with the state and various monastic and the municipal corporations from which the lineage is usually derived) were eventually able to routinely obtain public, legal, and even (non-analytical) sociological recognition. . obtain as unitary actors.

Interestingly, the corporate form of social organization has received very little attention in sociological theory, despite being central to modern institutional arrangements.[19]Therefore, a brief discussion of this remarkable form of organization is in order before we turn to recent information technology and whether we have or will leave modernity.

The company is a remarkable cultural artifact. One of the most extraordinary things about business corporations, as with other types of corporations, from religious and charitable institutions to governments and quasi-governmental organizations of various kinds, is that we routinely objectify or humanize them.[20]With slight variations and qualifications, companies can be owned by the entire western world.

[19] Coleman 1982 is one of the few modern exceptions to this rigor; see also Selznick 1969. One of the best sociological treatises was written not by a sociologist but by the legal theorist Dan-Cohen (1986).

[20] soldiersocial and cultural dynamics,Sorokin (1957, chapter 18) noted that the modern West showed a "renaissance of singularism", with continued rapid growth through the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Sorokins's analysis combines singularism—the assertion of an ontological or nominalist social reality for collectives—with a "triumphant individualism."


ownership, dispute and enter into contracts in the same way as "individuals". Indeed, they can establish a large number of relationships, most of which are very asymmetrical, with natural persons.[21]

Such relationships are essentially indirect. Although real people are connected through them, that connection is almost invisible. In fact, social relations seem to disappear in the functioning of an apparently autonomous social and technical system.[22]Even with the minimum of communication technology, the relationships that make up an organization can become indirect, that is. h temporally and spatially distant (for example, official duties of other company representatives). So, in a sense, a company is simply a collection or structure of social relationships, most (but not all) of which are indirect. In another sense, however, it is a social being on another level, a whole in itself.[23]Our Western, and especially American, culture grants the corporation the status of an autonomous and "responsible" actor and therefore offers its members limited liability for their actions.[24]

Both corporations and large markets depend on the flow of information through indirect social relations and, consequently, both are

[21] “Asymmetric” is Colemen's (1982) appropriate term for the relationships between firms and “individuals”. The relationships that come to mind are often contractual, such as employment, sale of property, or credit; Owning shares in a corporation is perhaps a special case of the contractual relationship. But companies also have other kinds of relationships with individuals, such as when they manufacture or distribute toxic substances that kill them.

[22] Studies have long addressed the impact of mechanical analogies on our understanding of human nature. The idea of ​​automation -of self-movement- had an early influence on the ideas of social organizations. For example, Hobbes ([1651] 1962, 81) describes Leviathan as a human being or artificial automaton. The image of an artificial human being suggests much of our usual understanding of the independence of such social automata from human action. Sociotechnical systems are subject to automation not only of industrial production and office work, but also of the control and coordination of social relations. In doing so, they create indirect relationships that are particularly conducive to reification.

[23] A corporation, for example, exhibits the characteristics that Durkheim ([1895] 1966) held to define social facts: it survives, at least potentially, longer than any of its individual members or agents; whether it is outside each individual (although it is perhaps best to treat this as a matter of theoretical premise rather than a matter of empirical fact; see Alexander 1982); and is capable of oppressing people, knowingly and intentionally and unintentionally and/or unrecognized by either party.

[24] See discussions in Dan-Cohen 1986, French 1984, Orhnial 1984, and Stone 1975. Attempts to criminalize corporations raise particularly difficult questions about their "responsibility" and ontological status. For example, it is not entirely clear what is meant by the term "punishing" a business, as opposed to the people who act as its agents, own it, or create and develop it (see Coffee 1981).


are subject to routine verification.[25]Economists forecast the economy and almost all of them discuss it as if it were a phenomenon as natural and objective as the weather. This trend reflects a culture that is at once largely individualistic, thus downplaying the social dimension in the creation of markets and companies, while at the same time supporting a maximally "disembodied" ontology that allows people to assume some sort of concession of individual existence. unified to disembodied beings. social However, markets differ from corporations in that they lack governance. They are the set of individual actions and sometimes collective actions, but they are not collective actors.

Due to this difference, companies tend not only to reify themselves, but also to anthropomorphize themselves. As already mentioned, we no longer find it necessary to embody States in the persons of their rulers; They attribute individuality to the disembodied state itself (see also Manning 1962; Giddens 1995b, Chapter 4). Likewise, it is easy to understand that corporations exist and, in a sense, act independently of their directors. As appealing as the Chrysler Corporation may find promoting Lee Iacocca as its icon, or as much as Ronald Reagan may appeal to Americans as an icon of their country, don't ever confuse the person with the company. As Judge Marshall wrote nearly one hundred and seventy years ago, a corporation is "an artificial being, invisible, intangible, and existing only in view of the law."[26]Confusion arises in the treatment of the companyeA person.

[25] Although administrative information flows are the most evident aspect of this dependence on corporations (including states), we must not forget that the maintenance and operation of these organizations as collective actors depends on a whole range of "informal" processes. , not specifically managed. , Information flow. Indeed, one of the questions some are asking about new information technology is whether it is not subjecting many of these informal channels of communication to increased surveillance or formalized management, thereby undermining organizations in some way, which often makes it more easy.

Both money and goods can be understood as the basis of information flows in markets. Parsons (1963), Luhmann (1979, Chapter 3), and Giddens (1985b, Chapter 5) offer an understanding of monetary transactions as communication. Simmel ([1907] 1978, 284-85, 297-302) emphasizes the role of money in facilitating impersonal relationships between people and thus promoting individualism; However, it does not fully develop money as a means of communication. Marx's notion of commodity fetishism developed in this direction (Taussig 1978; Lukács [1922] 1971). Both Luká and Simmel make connections between commodification and what Simmel calls "the calculating character of modern times" ([1907] 1978, 443).

[26]dartmouth contra woodward,17 US (4 wheat) 518 (1819). See also Simmel's emphasis on the importance of the owner's personal entity, including the socially created business owner:

Each amount of money has a different qualitative meaning if it does not belong to one person, but to several people. The unit of personality, then, is the correlate or premise of all qualitative differences in possession and their meaning; here the assets of legal persons are at the same level due to the uniformity of their administration in terms of their function. We can also talk about a nation

Wealth only when we understand the nation as a unified possessing subject. That is, we must think of the wealth of individual citizens as being linked through their interactions within the economy, just as an individual's wealth is linked to a practical unit through such interactions, e.g. Distribution, proportion of individual expenditures on the total, balance between income and expenses, etc. ([1907] 1978, 271).

For Weber ([1922] 1978, 48-52) social relations constitute an organized or corporate group (mortgage) only to the extent that a specific group of people (usually along with administrative personnel) regularly respects its boundaries. However, Weber refuses to recognize the corporate whole as distinct from authority figures. See also the discussion in Sorokin (1957, chapters 18-19)


Information technology and the development of indirect relationships

During the last two decades there has been a passion for marking new eras and new forms of society: post-industrial, technetronics, third wave, etc.[27]These visions of a new and different era are essentially derived from the expected impact of new technologies, mainly computers and related information technologies. While this technology is indeed powerful, such accounts of a qualitative break with the previous two hundred years of modernity are misleading. New technologies have improved rather than offset more fundamental trends in social inclusion, and this pattern is likely to continue unless significant efforts are made by society to reverse it.

Corporations, large markets and other organizations of indirect social relations have increased in size and importance throughout modern times. Advances in information technology have always facilitated diffusion. Computers and new telecommunications technologies continue this pattern. They not only offer a large quantitative increase in indirect relations, but also contribute to a shift in the balance between two qualitative types of indirect relations. Extending Cooley's notions of primary and secondary relationships, we could conceptualize two types of indirect relationships: tertiary and quaternary.

Tertiary relationships need not involve physical co-presence; They may be mediated entirely through machines, correspondence, or other people, but the parties are aware of the relationship. A tertiary relationship can be established, for example, by writing to a more or less anonymous employee of a large bank to complain about an error in his own accounting. Most ordinary citizens have only tertiary relationships with their national political representatives, relationships mediated through print and broadcast media, their vote in elections, and occasional correspondence. in a big

[27] Among many, see Bell 1973, 1979. Touraine 1971, Brzezinski 1977, Toffler 1980, and Naisbitt 1982; see also review by Badham (1985) and sampling in Forester 1986.


Most employees in a company have this type of relationship with senior managers. Such relationships are more or less completely contained in their explicit purposes and systemic roles. Because they are not characterized by physical co-presence, they are not as open to redefinition and expansion as secondary relationships. The various means by which the relationship is carried out contribute, to a greater or lesser extent, to isolating role performance from the other characteristics of individuals. But the relationships retain a degree of mutual recognition and intentionality; each party can (at least in principle) identify the other, and the relationship itself is self-evident.

Rather, quaternary relationships take place outside the attention and often the awareness of at least one of the parties. They are products of surveillance and exist where a sociotechnical system allows for the surveillance of human actions and transforms them into communication, regardless of the actors' intentions. Quaternary relationships result from wiretapping, theft of computer data or even analysis of stored data for purposes other than those originally provided by people other than those originally provided. Anyone who uses a credit card, travels on an airplane, pays income tax, applies for a visa, or fills out a job application—that is, almost anyone in modern society—provides data that can be reanalyzed. This reanalysis can be used to track the behavior of specific individuals as well as groups. The purpose of such surveillance can be as benign as providing marketing information or as threatening as targeting members of ethnic minorities for the purposes of scrutiny or prosecution.[28]Modern markets and government apparatuses could not function as they do today without substantial use of such data. This use, however, constitutes surveillance and creates very indirect, almost invisible, but powerful quaternary relationships.

As we saw in the case of markets, not all quaternary relationships depend on information management. The flow of money in successive transactions is itself a form of communication; Monetization laid the groundwork for an expansion of markets that created its own highly indirect and almost invisible quaternary relationships. However, the distinction between monetary communications in large markets and managed information flows is blurring as money increasingly becomes an electronically encrypted version of information. In addition to markets, new technologies make possible a large number of non-economic relationships. For example, fans can use computer networks to stay in touch, a kind of semi-managed use. However, new technologies have

[28] For example, the US government provided allegedly confidential census data to police and law enforcement to track Japanese Americans as part of the unconstitutional mass arrest program during World War II (Burnham 1983, 20-26 ).


its most dramatic impact on different types of fully managed information flows.[29]

The use of writing marked the first historical advance in creating the ability to engage in indirect social relationships. Our current abilities still depend more on literacy than on any other invention or skill. But information technology has come a long way in the modern age, from the invention of the printing press to the telegraph, telephone, radio, television, communication satellites, cable and microwave transmission, to computers.[30]Transport facilities were also greatly improved and formed the basis for most long-distance communications for centuries. It's worth emphasizing again how recent and how big the traffic improvements are. As late as the mid-1750s, the journey from London to Edinburgh took ten to twelve days; In 1836 the trip took less than two days (Bagwell 1971); the train (which is no longer the latest technology on this route) now takes four hours, the plane one hour, and electronic communication is almost instantaneous. German immigrants to the United States after 1848 could not rely on reliable correspondence (the International Postal Union dates from 1874) and could not expect to see their abandoned family member ever again. In addition to traveling and calling between the two countries with ease, his great-grandchildren have stakes in companies that do business in both countries simultaneously and rely on military coordination, where computers and satellites connect commanders and troops thousands of kilometers away and monitor the face. whole. from the earth.

For most of history, wars of conquest and the migrations they provoked were some of the few important tools for intercultural and long-distance communication. At considerably longer intervals, wars and migrations of peoples were complemented by waves of religious conversion. Religious pilgrimages and commercial expeditions became more organized. Trade routes provided many devices, but daily activities were much more limited. Communication skills arose from the political needs of managing empires and the logistical needs of armies, drawing on the resources of spiritual education (hence "employees"). In the early modern period, trade began to become more thorough.

[29] Management can refer to both the monitoring of information flows and the organized creation of such flows. That is, it can be both wiretapping and television transmission, as well as the combination of both aspects in electronic credit consultation.

[30] Media theorists who focus on the telephone, radio broadcasting, and other electronic technologies often emphasize the renewed importance of oral communication in shaping modern culture (McLuhan 1964; Ong 1982; Meyrowitz 1985, 16-2. 3). The role of computers in the recent wave of electronic communication technologies heralds a partial reversal of this trend and a revival of the central importance of literacy.


and then overcome the war as an opportunity for international communication. It multiplied the demand for literacy and improved the means of communication. The growth of strong nation-states was closely related to this growth of trade (which simultaneously provided the wealth for state administration and the need to protect trade and international borders) and of the means of communication themselves. National integration advanced further through these means of communication, not only through better means of administration (as Giddens 1985b points out), but also through the growth of coherent national cultures and shared 'consciences' or ideologies. Linguistic unification and codification was an important step in nation-building (although the histories of German-speaking and Romance-speaking countries differ somewhat in this regard), and in turn made long-distance communication even easier. .[31]

Like literacy itself, the new information technologies make it possible to transcend not only space, but also time; Fewer relationships or transactions require co-presence.[32]Although it's a kind of mundane and disappointingly slow time machine, each gray metal file allows communication between the input and the extractor. Computers can, of course, do this to a much greater extent, with much more sophisticated ways of matching stored information with future search engine queries. One of the most distinctive characteristics of modern companies is the ability to combine a high degree of continuity in their patterns (in the face of environmental complexity and staff turnover and internal changes) with the capacity for organized change in response to decisions. managerial. Computers can be used to monitor activities related to very long-term plans, or simply to maintain compliance with predetermined rhythms and routines. Communication is increasingly separated from transport, surveillance from direct observation.

New information technologies can be used in the following ways: to further organize social life through indirect relationships, to expand the power of different corporate actors, to coordinate social action on a larger scale, or to enhance control in relationships. This wide range of potentials can actually be socially transformative; the technologies are

[31] Today, especially for large countries, television is one of the central media for promoting a tattered national consciousness. Many Third World countries have invested heavily for this reason, but few can match China's purchase of several entire color TV factories from Japanese manufacturers to reach its goal of one TV per family by the end of the century.

[32] In Innis's ([1951] 1964) sense, the new information technologies, like their ancestors, are oriented towards the transcendence of space rather than time, towards breadth and flexibility rather than permanence.


powerful and flexible. But is this transformation a break with modernity's tendency to rely more and more on indirect social relations to organize large-scale social integration?

An excessive focus on the extent to which new technologies are replacing human labor in the production of material goods has obscured the deeper implications of these new technologies for social inclusion. Indeed, it is true that the proportion of "artificial" (not directly human) labor in the production process has increased and is likely to increase further.[33]This trend is important, and the potential impact of computerization on employment is not negligible (see Jones 1982; Gil 1985). In addition, computerization offers great advances in productivity (not only of labor, but also of capital investment). However, simply focusing on these issues obscures other very significant changes, including changes to the material production process itself.

The biggest changes in most factories are not in the number of employees, or even their skill levels, but in the "performance" process (Gunn 1982). Computerization not only makes it possible to automate a large number of different specific production processes (eg welding or painting), but also to automate the flow of goods, materials and information through the factory.[34]In an automobile factory, for example, each chassis is initially assigned a computerized identification card. Corresponds to a specific car ordered by a specific dealer. The computer tells each worker (or robot) which parts to add to the basic chassis, what color to paint it, and what finish or finish to give it. The computer also orders all necessary parts and materials as needed, reducing administrative work and inventory requirements. As in the assembly line and also in the factories themselves, here the change is in the organization of the production process. The most profound impact of informatization on industry is the increase in technical scale.

[33] This trend may shift much of the workforce in advanced economies away from physical production, but Bell's characterization of this shift as the transition to postindustrial society (1973, 1979) must apply two qualifications. First, most jobs created for former industrial workers (or their children or their future colleagues) are at least as mundane, and often at least blue-collar. What could be a more exemplary work than writing? However, typing is an "information industry occupation". The same goes for service sector jobs like making and selling hamburgers at McDonalds. Second, proportional falls in employment in physical manufacturing industries are not reflected in proportional falls in investment in capital goods or in the value added of economic output.

[34] One merit of Beniger's (1986) description of the "control revolution" is that it captures this feature of information technology that many descriptions miss. However, Beniger's cybernetic model for understanding this tends to obscure many of the issues discussed in this chapter, as well as the issue of combat as technology changes. Beniger prefers to present control as an attribute of reified "systems" rather than chosen or created contingencies.


coordinated action and, at the same time, creates flexibility for small series production. This description of the production process (based on observations in Wayne, Michigan) is part of a computer-aided integration of design, production, and marketing facilities in seven countries on four continents (Ford Motor Company's World Car Project).

In short, what changes is the social integration of the production process. Just as factories and the division of labor changed the production of goods in the classical revolution, today's computerization changes not just individual tasks but entire forms of organization. While automation is replacing some workers by allowing machines to do their jobs, it is transforming society by replacing the human component in many organizational connections.[35]Social organizations themselves are, in a sense, automated, as computers and related information technologies help to create an artificial environment. We call a machine automated when it can drive itself or work autonomously. Therefore, we could also refer to the process of creating even more distant factories or organizations, but functioning autonomously, as an automation process. We could even assume that companies are a kind of social automata. They are made possible by indirect relationships in which human employees act as intermediaries, but are greatly augmented by new information technologies to mediate relationships.

Social integration and the idea of ​​a post-industrial society

In trying to revitalize and reformulate the problem of social integration, I follow the path of Durkheim more closely, but also, to varying degrees, that of Tönnies, Weber and Simmuel. More than any other classical sociologist, Durkheim was concerned with social solidarity and social integration, but for the most part he did not specifically address these issues through the study of relational patterns. Instead, he focused on the sociopsychological understanding of reciprocity, the cognitive implications of living in society, and the functional analysis of institutional cohesion.[36]Functional analysis of this type

[35] It is common to emphasize the 'disqualification' of workers as machinists and their partial replacement by technical specialists who are easier to control (Noble 1984). Despite all the justification for this line of reasoning in terms of business policy motives, it should be noted that the transformation of the productive organization also affects some managers. At Ford's Wayne Assembly Plant, none of the facility managers had the ability to reprogram their robots or performance controls. They, too, had lost control to a centralized organization working through more specialized agents.

[36] Durkhiem's ​​failure to develop an approach to concrete social relations is central to one of the main weaknesses of his theory of social solidarity (or integration). Focusing on the differences in form between mechanical and organic.

Solidarity reduces Durkheim's ([1893] 1964) scale transformations to a small independent variable, not to an important essential feature of social change. As interesting as a variable like dynamic density is, it is not a substitute for showing how dramatically different numbers of people are organized into a common network of social relationships, or what this means for people's experiences, actions, or social structure. .


it is abstract, though not abstract in the sense or to the extent that Marx's categorical analysis of capitalism is.[37]Above all, we derive from Weber the concrete analysis of social relations, which he understood as the probability that one person's actions will influence the actions of another.[38]Of course, not all social relationships are direct, many are mediated. What makes the Weberian approach concrete is its focus on relationships from the actors' point of view (thus necessarily recognizing qualitative distinctions) rather than the categorical nature of meditation.[39]

Ironically, although much of the structural functionalism of the 1950s maintained a focus on social integration and even concrete social relations (the latter perhaps more visible in socio-anthropological variants), theories of "industrial society" developed on Durkheim's foundations. and Weber. . as alternatives to Marxism the same neglect of social integration that characterizes Marxism. Industry does not determine society any more than capitalism does; if anything, less (Kumar 1978; Giddens 1985b; Badham 1985). Industry, as a means of organizing material production, is clearly a feature of social life and has some influence, but it is not dynamic in itself, nor is it the source of the fundamental network of relationships that bind people together. The same problem continues in Bell's theory of post-industrial society. The question of how value is produced is intertwined with the question of what society is. Regardless of the merits or demerits of Bell's presentation of this information

[37] Functional analysis is abstract in the sense that it does not examine concrete interpersonal or social relations (in Weber's sense), but rather the influence of socially constructed institutional phenomena on one another. In another sense, statistical analysis is also abstract: it focuses on distributions rather than relationships. The language here is often confusing; statistical "relationships" are discussed, in which one set of distribution indicators serves to predict another. This analysis differs from the analysis (statistical or otherwise) of concrete relationships between people.

[38] Simmel's work contributes significantly to Weber's work in this regard. Gidden's (1985a, 1985b) development of a Weberian complement to Marxist analysis reduces Weber to almost a one-dimensional theorist of power. At some points, Giddens focuses so predominantly on the state that social life does not appear, nor do economic relations with nature (analyzed in a way largely indebted to Marx) and power relations.

[39] It is in the sense that Marxists often argue that Weber does not have a theory, only a highly systematic and formalized empirical account of history. From this point of view, only the kind of abstract analysis I describe below for Marx's theory of capitalism counts as a theory.


replaced work as a source of value, this claim cannot account for the achievement of social inclusion.[40]Planning, one of Bell's new core institutions, seems to be charged with maintaining social coherence. Its failure is attributed to the "cultural contradictions of capitalism" (Bell 1976), not to an analysis of social relations or their integration as such.

It is particularly regrettable that the Bell report shows this lack of attention to social inclusion. This absence greatly diminishes the value of the most serious sociological attempt to grapple with the meaning of information technology. Moreover, as I have tried to show, the notion of a fundamental discontinuity between post-industrial society (or any of its many synonyms) and its supposed precursor is misleading. Although I have described many new things, and a more extensive treatment of technologies and social change could describe many more new things, the set of conditions – particularly sociostructural conditions – that we loosely call modernity persists and seems likely to persist. for some time (barring a material catastrophe one way or another). There has been no fundamental change in the form of social integration such that a new type of society can reasonably be declared to exist. The changes that have taken place and are taking place are more or less in line with the changes that have taken place throughout modern times. Indeed, a high exchange rate and an expectation of change are among the defining characteristics of modernity. The relentless drive of capitalism is one of the main sources of this continuous social (as well as technological, economic and cultural) change. But it's not the only source and it's disputed in some places, so it shouldn't be assumed to contain the full explanation.

[40] Bell (1973, xiv; 1979, 168) shares with Habermas (1970, 104), Touraine (1971) and several others the notion of an "information theory of value" replacing the earlier labor theory of value. It is worth noting in each case that no attempt is made to revise the labor theory of value so that intellectual labor can be better managed. Habermas (1976, 1984) seems to want to preserve a narrow concept of work so that it can be easily incorporated into his distinction between instrumental action and communicative action. The desire for a clear distinction for Touraine may have to do with the appeal of a 'new class' analysis of labor politics in France in 1968 and immediately thereafter. Unlike Bell, however, Touraine (eg, 1977) and Habermas (1984) attempt to develop an account both of social relations as such and of social integration. I see current efforts as at least partially complementary to recent work by Habermas, who distinguishes between social integration and systems integration. However, I would like to avoid "the seductions of systems theory" (McCarthy 1985) by specifying the concrete basis of relations in which tendencies towards reification and the privileging of technology over practice arise. Rather than leaving the "world" of formal organization and large-scale social integration to systems theory, we need to examine why immediate communicative relations cannot explain social integration.


Marx: Abstract Totality and Social Relations

The issue of concrete social relations and the integration of social groups is almost completely suppressed in the work of Marx and most Marxists (Calhoun 1982; Alexander 1983). This repression is due in part to an overemphasis on one of Marx's most fundamental ideas: the totalizing drive towards capitalist commodity production and capital accumulation.[41]Marx deeply understood that capitalism was not built on the basis of direct human relations. It existed only through commodities produced and exchanged by capital accumulation. Moreover, as Giddens (1985b, chapter 5) has recently reminded us, a central feature of Marxist theory is missing from competing accounts of industrial society. The missing feature is the dynamics of capitalist production and commodification and its relentless expansion into new branches of production, new areas of life and new parts of the world.[42]

Capitalism, according to Marx, must naturally increase its extent in the world and the intensity or totality of its domination wherever it organizes economic activities. Capitalism drives the creation of new technologies (both for production and distribution), new products and new markets. As Giddens (1985b) points out, this analysis overlooks the concomitant rise of the state, which was crucial to the creation and maintenance of a separate economic sphere. But that doesn't go far enough. We must both recognize the accuracy of Marx's argument about the dynamics that capitalism creates.

[41] This is the theme of Volume 1 of theCapitalwhile showing how abstract forms dominate concrete relationships in modern capitalism. (It must be remembered that for Marx the concrete is not the simple and obvious, but the complex and somewhat arbitrary sum of many different determinations.) the most determining forms of their production and exchange of things, and not through direct interpersonal relations ; qualitative particularity is suppressed in favor of quantitative generality. Lukács, more than any other thinker, adhered to this theme developed in his analysis of reification as the center of Marxism ([1922] 1971, especially the chapter entitled “Reification and the consciousness of the proletariat”). Although he extends the notion of wholeness to many other variants of Marxist holism, Jay's (1984) analysis on this point is very useful. For Lukács, totality is not just a tendency, but an essential category, recognizable from the abstract point of view of the proletariat as a moving subject-object. One of the strongest recent attempts to read Marx's theory in this way, and at the level of basic categories, is by Postone (1983). In this article, totalization is seen as a historically specific tendency of capitalism.

[42] “The bourgeoisie cannot exist without constantly revolutionizing the instruments of production and, therefore, the relations of production and with them all social relations. On the contrary, the preservation of the old mode of production in unchanged form was the first condition of existence for all previous industrial classes" (Marx and Engels [1848] 1976, 487).


towards totality and complements it with an analysis of the concrete social relations with which capitalism coexists (such as the concept of the State), but which cannot be reduced to it. In other words, capitalism is not a society. It exists in part precisely in contrast to direct interpersonal relationships. As Marx noted: “Their very exchange and production confront individuals as watchrelationship that isindependentlyfrom them. In case ofWorld Market,aexpensive connectionwith everyone, but at the same time with themindependence of this attachment from the individual,developed so much that the conformation of the world market already contains the conditions to overcome them" ([1939] 1973, 161, emphasis in the original).[43]The commodity encounters people as objectivations of human activity (in relation to nature, oneself and others). Commodities mediate human relationships to create the abstract whole that is capitalism. At the same time, the commodity form objectifies human action and human relationships, obscuring the fact that capitalism is the product of human labor and making it appear as an object in its own right. Both Marx and Engels, in particular, were fond of borrowing Carlyle's dictum that capitalism left no connection between man and man beyond "insensible cash payment" (eg, Marx and Engels [1848] 1976, 487; Engels [1880] 1972, 608). . . Just as capitalism must ignore, or even attack, the irreducibly qualitative nature of commodities, it must also ignore, or even attack, the qualitative content of human relations (Marx [1867] 1974, Chapter 1; Lukáacs [1922] 1971, 83 – 148). But capitalism can only go so far in this attack, even in Marx's theory. raw materialsoftto the purely quantitative, but they are still physical things and therefore have properties. Likewise, capitalism cannot completely control or erase quantitative cultural content, interpersonal relationships, or purely personal thoughts and affections.

Indeed, it is fundamental to at least one reading of Marx that this is the case.

[43] 'Comparison', continued Marx, 'takes the place of real community and generality: it has been said and can be said that this is precisely what is beautiful and grand: this spontaneous interweaving, this material and spiritual metabolism which is independent of the individual's knowledge and will and demands their mutual independence and indifference, and it is clear that this factual connection is preferable to the absence of any connection or to a merely local connection based on ties of blood or primitive, natural or loving relationships. " ([1939] 1973, 161). See similar discussion by Engels ([1880] 1972, 627-28) and imManifesto(Marx and Engels [1848] 1976, 486-87). But it is mainly inCapital,especially in the relationship between volumes 1 and 3, we see that Marx theorizes a kind of totalization that makes social life appear systematically different from what it is, that is, makes capital appear as a cause and not a product of society.human action. If we can identify capitalism with the world of the system, it not only "colonizes" the lifeworld, as Habermas would have it, but represents the effective separation of the one from the other, the closure of the lifeworld and the reification of the world, action mediated. (It remains to be seen whether there are other forms of mediation that are comparatively conducive to objectification.)


as soon as. In this reading, the revolutionary transformation or the overcoming of capitalism cannot be explained only on the basis of dialectical negation. That is, there must be an alternative, qualitatively separate mode or dimension of existence on which to build resistance to capitalism. Such a basis may lie outside the realm of capitalism, as in the notion of a counter-hegemonic culture possibly suggested by Gramsci (Gramsci 1982; Boggs 1984). Or such a base could be created by capitalism itself. Marx, for example, believed that the very concentration of workers in cities and factories (and the social organization of factories) could provide the basis for radical mobilization (Calhoun 1983). But there is a tension between this line of argument, in which Marx anticipates the coalescence of the working class as a collective actor, subjectively united on the basis of direct relations between workers, and Marx's dominant analysis of how indirect relations and abstract capitalism dominate and destroy the rights.[44]In this last line of argument, Marx focuses on the purely categorical position of the proletariat as the negation of capitalism; the proletariat is united more by common elements in the formal relations of production than by qualitative relations with each other.[45]

Ironically, the other side of capitalist totality in Marx's categorical analysis turns out to be a kind of individualism. On the one hand, this is the universal individualism of utilitarianism, and Marx is critical of some aspects of it.

[44] This tension does not bother Engels very much. Where Marx (inCapital) saw the anarchy of everyday capitalist economic activity as a superficial inversion of a relentless quest for wholeness, Engels uses similar language to contrast two levels of concrete social phenomena:

Old ties loosened, old exclusive boundaries were broken down, and producers became increasingly independent and isolated commodity producers. It became evident that the production of society as a whole was determined by planlessness, chance, anarchy; and this lawlessness grew to ever greater heights. But the main vehicle through which the capitalist mode of production reinforced this anarchy of socialized production was the exact opposite of anarchy. It was the growing organization of production on a social basis in each individual factory. With that, the former peaceful and stable state of affairs ended. (Angel [1880] 1972, 97)

As a result, Engels can offer a stronger transition to an evolutionary socialist expectation that socialized production will naturally lead to proletarian solidarity and a socialist society. It is this kind of Engelsian explanation that Bell (1973) revises, tames and appropriates, and Galbraith (1978) and others believe they have responded by showing that modern capitalist production is not anarchic but planned, not the relentless pursuit of profit but the pursuit of profit carefully modulated organizational growth.

[45] In different ways, both Lukács and the Althusserian structuralists extend this argument from the pure categories of capitalism even further than Marx. See Poulantzas: "Social classes are not empirical groups of individuals, social groups 'composed' by simple addition; the relations between these actors, therefore, are not interpersonal relations" (1975, 17).


But, on the other hand, Marx seems to accept this "implicit" individualism as an at least partially accurate description of reality under capitalism: concrete qualitative instances of proletarian social solidarity (as direct interpersonal relations as opposed to political commonality or social organization). . ) are seen by Marx as nothing more than the vestiges of the old seen order. Capitalism is purely formal, impersonal and quantitative; the working class is united by the common elements of a category of individuals.[46]If any relationship is considered to define or produce solidarity, it is the opposition's relationship with the bourgeoisie, the ruling class, not the relationship between workers. Nowhere does Marx attempt to show that individuals in capitalist society (including both capitalists and workers) are anything other than quantitatively interchangeable, except in terms of their potential.

However, it is important to bear in mind the issue of human social potential. Insofar as capitalism is an object of analysis, direct interpersonal relationships are of secondary importance. In frontCapitalHowever, the writings in which Marx envisions a communist future contrast non-quantitatively interchangeable individuals with an abstract totality. Instead, he emphasizes “that above all we must avoid postulating 'society' as an abstraction in relation to the the social being(Marx [1844] 1975, 299, emphasis in original). But such a state is a possible future to be created, not a timeless (beyond potential) feature of human nature: "Generally evolved individuals whose social relationships, such as their own community...common] Relations, that is, also subject to their own communal control, are not a product of nature but of history” (Marx [1939] 1973, 162). Theorist of natural law and the social contract, says Marx in the same placeground plants,they focus their attention on "exclusively objective" ties between people, confusing them with spontaneous relationships that are not possible in the current state of society. As long as the abstract relations of capitalism remain decisive, the analysis of concrete relations will be the analysis of more or less arbitrary side effects. When capitalism and the human self-alienation of private property are overcome, there will still be a distinction between activities carried out in direct community with others and those (e.g. science) less dependent on the immediate co-presence of the group are, but are not. however, consciously social. But each of these activities will be self-determined in a way impossible under the rule of capitalism:

Social activity and social enjoyment are by no means present.onlyin the form of someImmediatelycommunity and direct actioncommonenjoy though

[46] This approach continues in the work of many contemporary "analytical Marxists"; see for example B.Wright 1985.


commonactivitycommonPleasure, that is, activity and pleasure manifested and asserted in it.clearIn a straight lineMortgagewith other men - will occur whenever suchIn a straight lineThe expression of coexistence derives from the true character of the activity's content and is suited to the type of enjoyment. ([1848] 1976, 298, emphasis in original)

In relation to Marx's own political interests, i.e., his theory of revolution, there is a tension between his description of capitalism's tendency to eradicate all interpersonal relationships not created by capitalist commodity production and exchange, and the need for a basis of social relations solidarity in the fight against capitalism. Marx's few comments on interpersonal relationships beyond those constituted by capitalism itself indicate that genuine commonality would have to be carried over to a post-capitalist world. Thus, Marx does not have a substantive theory of social integration in capitalism (as opposed to system integration in Habermas's sense or the integration of the capitalist totality itself). While Marx's description of capitalism is persuasive, it is not a description of the experiential or observable world of social relations, the form of mediation that leads to systematic misinterpretation of those relations. Marx's theory of capitalism is a more local or specific and less universal theory than is generally claimed. It cannot be the basis of all sociology. Indeed, in the truest sense of the word, it is not sociology at all.[47]Even some of the most characteristic institutions of modern capitalism - business corporations, for example - insofar as they consist of concrete social relations, must be explained by factors other than capitalism.

To some extent, the purpose of this chapter is to examine these other factors. I have presented a preliminary conceptualization of the structures of indirect relations characteristic of the modern world. Capitalism helped in part to establish these relationships, but at least it is equally dependent on them. Corporations and large markets are key examples. Indirect relationships have been and continue to be encouraged by advances in information technology. Every relationship is also subject to a tendency towards reification that distinguishes it from social institutions that are formed primarily on the basis of direct interpersonal relationships.

The reader must not think that only Marxism suffers from the deficiency

[47] Taking Marx's theory of capitalism in this strict sense naturally excludes much of Marx's work, some of which is directly sociological in nature. The point is that this sociological part is not directly based on, much less derived from, Marx's categorical theory of capitalism.


a good explanation of the role of concrete relations in social integration, that a good explanation of social integration as a whole can be found in another body of theory, or that my argument is totally contrary to Marxist theory. Taking the last point first, I want to outline the application of the most central part of Marxist theory by treating it strictly as a form of capitalism. Marxism is a theory of capitalism as a form of mediation between human agents (again seen abstractly as process, consumer and owner), not as a form of social or economic agency (as is the case with Weber). In this sense, capitalism is dynamic and pushes towards totality.[48]While it may need improvement, Marx's theory is powerful within these limitations and still offers an almost unique insight. However, I insist that capitalism is not a form of society. Marx's theory of capitalism should not be privileged as a theory of all social life. We can say that the tendency of capitalism as mediation is to increase the degree to which a theory of capitalism explains other aspects of social life, but many of these aspects remain "different". Among these other aspects, central for the purposes of this chapter, are the various relationships by which members of populations are linked and allow the coordination of large-scale social action. The same applies to the content of the culture.


I have argued that a dominant modern sociological trend is the expansion of social integration on an ever-increasing scale, albeit with greater internal intensity, based on indirect social relations. I said that the new information technologies do not represent a break with this long-term trend. As material productivity continues to increase, so too do our abilities to organize through indirect social relationships. At the same time, social systems continue to expand beyond the confines of place, expanding the capacity of those they enable to intervene in the everyday lives of ordinary people. Issues of information technology and control are therefore central to modern sociology, but this situation does not imply a qualitative break in the nature of social processes.

[48] ​​Of course, capitalism never achieves full totality. Based on historical experience, it doesn't look even close to what Marx envisioned. We can imagine its totality by looking at it as a purely abstract system (in the manner of Althusser), but my concern here is with concrete historical analysis. Even if the limits to the expansion and intensification of capitalism have proved to be considerable, I still see this as a qualitative break with all previous historical experience. Human organization may have seen diversity and systematicity, but capitalism was the first to create the kind of abstract mediation which, in capital accumulation, is not just a human desire or even an apparent compulsion to be independent.


at work at the most basic level. Modernity, if that's what we want to call our time, continues.[49]

Neither Marx's theory of capitalism nor any theory of industrial (or post-industrial) society provides an adequate explanation of society itself, that is, of social integration. I made a conceptual contribution to this by trying to specify the distinctive nature and modern role of vicarious social relations. Of course, this discussion raises other questions that I have left untouched. The new information technologies can facilitate the reversal of an old trend of population concentration (at least in the rich countries of the world). Will this reversal happen? With what effects? At the same time, the same technologies provide greater centralized monitoring and control capabilities. Is this verified or balanced by new means of democratic participation? What are the meanings and potentialities of direct interpersonal relationships at a time when a large part of social life is made up of indirect relationships?

Appropriate answers to these and other questions depend on our ability to analyze different forms and degrees of social integration. This analysis, in turn, requires the study of concrete social relations. Questions of social integration cannot be addressed by a purely cultural analysis or by an atomistic utilitarian individualism. Even the Marxist theory of capitalism is not enough. Despite the centrality of her vision to the dynamic imperatives of social integration for change, it remains focused on the abstract and totalizing mediation of qualitative human labor (and the qualitative activity of life itself, insofar as it is 'consumption'). " life). use values) through the production of capitalist values ​​and the exchange of goods. From the more structural variants of "structural-functional" thinking -especially Weber and Simmel- we can derive an approach to the study of concrete social relations. This approach is essential for addressing the problem of social integration, a necessary but recently neglected counterpart to cultural explanations of modernity and Marxist explanations of capitalism. However, we must not limit the study of concrete relations to the immediate relations that constitute the world of life and leave all large-scale analyzes of social organization to systems theory. Instead, we need to extend the analysis of concrete relationships to the realm of indirect relationships and show that large organizations are still part of social integration, even that are based on relationships over which the participants have little control, over which they are not even enfranchised. evolved, they may not even be aware. aware, and whose results tend to confirm them.

[49] I suspect that modernity is more vaguely characterized than precisely defined. In my view, certain dispositions (both the compulsion for novelty and nostalgia for its counterpart) are associated with the capitalist drive for productivity and capital accumulation and the prevalence of vicarious social relations.



Abu-Lughod, J. 1969.The city is dead - long live the city: some reflections on urbanity. Research Center for Planning and Development Monograph nº. 12. Berkeley: Center for Planning and Development.

Alejandro, J. 1982.Theoretical logic in sociology. vol. 1,Positivism, assumptions and current controversies. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Alejandro, J. 1983.Theoretical logic in sociology. vol. 2,The antinomies of classical social thought: Marx and Durkheim. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Badham, R. 1985. The sociology of industrial and post-industrial societies.contemporary sociology32, nº. 1:1–36.

Bagwell, R. 1971.The traffic revolution of 1770. Londres: Batford.

Barnes, JA 1954. Class and committee in a Norwegian community.Human relations7, no. 1:39–58.

Bell, D. 1973.The advent of post-industrial society. New York: Essential Books.

Bell, D. 1976.The Cultural Contradictions of Capitalism. New York: Essential Books.

Bell, D. 1979. The Social Framework of the Information Society. At theThe Computer Age: A Twenty Year PerspectiveEd. M. Dertouzos e J. Moses, 163-211. Cambridge: MIT Press.

Beniger, J. 1986.The control revolution. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Boggs, C. 1984.The two revolutions; Gramsci and the dilemmas of Western Marxism. Boston: South End Press.

Brzezinski, Z. 1977.Between two eras: the role of the United States in the technetronic era. Harmondsworth: Pinguin.

Burnham, D. 1983.The rise of the computing state. Nova York: Random House.

Burt, R. 1982.Towards a structural theory of action. Nova York: Academic Press.

Calhoun, CJ 1978. History, Anthropology, and the Study of Communities: Some Problems with MacFarlane's history3, no. 3:363-73.

Calhoun, C. J. 1980. Community: Towards a variable conceptualization for comparative history5, no. 1:105-29.

Calhoun, CJ 1982.The question of class struggle: social foundations of popular protest in industrialized England. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Calhoun, C. J. 1983. The Radicalism of Tradition: Communal Strength or Venerable Borrowed Language and Costume?american sociology magazine88, nº. 5:886–914.

Calhoun, CJ 1986. Computer technology, large-scale social integration, and the local community.Quarterly Municipal Affairs22, no. 2:329–49.

Calhoun, CJ 1988. Class, Location, and the Industrial Revolution. At theClass and space: the rise of urban society,edited by P. Williams and N. Thrift, 51–72. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.

Coffee, JC, Jr. 1981. "No soul to condemn: No body to kick": A shock-free examination of the problem of corporate punishment.Michigan Law Revision79 (January): 386–459.

Coleman, JS 1982.the asymmetrical society. Syracuse, Nova York: Syracuse University Press.

Cooley, CH [1909] organization. New York: Shocked.


Dan-Cohen, M. 1986.Rights, people and organizations: a legal theory for bureaucratic society. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Duncan, OD 1959. Cultural, behavioral, and ecological perspectives in the study of social organization.american sociology magazine65, no. 2:132–53.

Durkheim, E. [1893] 1964.The division of labor in society. Nova York: Free Press.

Durkheim, E. [1895] 1966.The rules of sociological method.. Nova York: Free Press.

Engels, F. [1880] 1972. Socialism: utopian and scientific. At theThe reader of Marx-Engels,edited by R. Tucker, 605–39. New York: Norton.

Förster, T., editor 1986.The information technology revolution. Cambridge: MIT Press.

Frank, AG 1969.Capitalism and underdevelopment in Latin America. Rev. Ed. Nueva York: Monthly Review Press.

Frank, AG 1978.Dependent accumulation and underdevelopment. Nova York: Monthly Review Press.

Fraser, N. 1985. What's critical about critical theory? The case of Habermas and german review35:97–132.

French, Pennsylvania 1984.Collective and Corporate Responsibility. Nova York: Columbia University Press.

Galbraith, JK 1978.The new industrial state. Auf 3d Nueva York: Houghton-Mifflin.

Giddens. A. 1985a.the constitution of the company. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Giddens, A. 1985b.A contemporary critique of historical materialism. vol. 2,Nation State and Violence. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Gierke, Otto von. 1934natural law and social theory. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

gil, ca. 1985Work, unemployment and new technologies. Cambridge, ing.: Polity Press.

Gramsci, A. 1982.Selection of prison notebooks. ed. e trans. Q. Hoare e GN Smith. Londres: Lawrence e Wishart.

Granovetter, M. 1985. Economic action and the problem of incorporation.american sociology magazine91, nº. 3:481–510.

Gregory, D. e J. Urry, Hrsg. 1985.Spatial relationships and social structures.. Nueva York: St. Martins Presse.

Gunn, T. 1982. The mechanization of design and manufacture.american scientist247, nº. 3:15–30.

Gusfield, J. 1967. Tradition and Modernity: Displaced Polarities in the Study of Social Change.american sociology magazine72, nº. 3:351–62.

Gusfield, J. 1975.Community: a critical response. Nova York: Harper and Row.

Habermas, J. 1970.Towards a rational society. Boston: Beacon Press.

Habermas, J. 1984.the theory of communicative action. vol. 1,Reason and rationalization of society. Boston: Beacon Press.

Haines, V. 1985. Organicism, ecology, and human ecology.sociological theory3, no. 1:65-74.

Hawley, A. 1950.Human ecology: a theory of community structure. . . . Nova York: Ronald Press.


Hawley, A. 1981.urban society. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2nd ed. New York: Wiley.

Hobbes, T. [165] 1962.Leviathan. Harmondsworth: Pinguin.

Innis, H. A. [1950] 1972.Empire and Communication. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

Innis, H. A. [1951] 1964.The bias of communication.. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

Jay, M. 1984.Marxism and totality: the adventures of a concept from Lukács to Habermas. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Jones, B. 1982.sleepers wake up! Technology and the future of work. Nova York: Oxford University Press.

Kantorowicz. E. 1956.The two bodies of the king.. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Kumar, K. 1978.Prophecy and progress: the sociology of industrial and post-industrial societies. Harmondsworth: Pinguin.

Luhmann, N. 1979.confidence and power. Chichester: Wiley.

Lukács, G. [1922] 1971.history and class consciousness. Cambridge: MIT Press.

McCarthy, T. 1985. Complexity and Democracy, or the Seductions of Systems german review35:27–53.

McLuhan, M. 1964.Understanding the media: the extents of man. . . . Nova York: McGraw-Hill.

Maitland, FW [1900] 1958. Introduction. At thepolitical theory of the Middle Ages,por O. von Gierke, vii–xiv. Boston: Beacon Press.

Manning, CAW 1962.The essence of international society.. London: bell.

Marx, K. [1844] 1975.The Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844. Nocomplete works,by K. Marx and F. Engels, 3:229-348. London: Lawrence and Wishart.

Marx, K. [1867] 1974.Capital. volume 1. Londres: Lawrence e Wishart.

Marx, K. [1939] 1973.floor plants. Harmondsworth: pelicanos.

Marx, K. e F. Engels. [1848] 1976.Manifesto of the Communist Party. Nocomplete works,by K. Marx and F. Engels, 6:477-519. London: Lawrence and Wishart.

Meyrowitz, J. 1985.No sense of place: the influence of electronic media on social behavior. Nova York: Oxford.

Mitchell, J.C., Hrsg. 1969.Social networks in urban situations. Manchester: Manchester University Press.

Nadel, S. 1957.The theory of social structure.. Londres: Cohen and West.

Naisbitt, J. 1982.megatrends. . . . Nova York: Warner Books.

Nisbet, RA e RG Perrin. 1977.the social bond. Rev. Hrsg. Nova York: Knopf.

Edel, D. 1984.Productive forces: a social history of industrial automation. Nova York: Knopf.

Ong, W. 1982.Orality and literacy: the mechanization of the word. Nova York: Methuen.

Orhnial, T., Hrsg. 1984.Limitation of liability and partnership. Londres: Croomhelm.

Parsons, T. 1951.the social system. Nova York: Free Press.

Parsons, T. 1963. On the concept of political power.Annals of the American Philosophical Society107:232–62.

Parsons, T. e G. Platt. 1973american university. Cambridge; Harvard University Press.


Postone, M. 1983.The present as a necessity: on a rereading of Marx's work and the critique of time. Inaugural Dissertation, Goethe University, Frankfurt am Main.

Poulantzas, N. 1975.Political power and social classes. Londres: New Left Books.

Redfield, R. 1941.Yucatecan popular culture. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Saturday, L. 1981.The rise of new political advisers. New York: Essential Books.

Sahlins, M. 1978.culture and practical reason. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Saunders, P. 1985. Space, the City, and Urban Sociology. ptSocial relationships and spatial structures. edition D. Gregory and J. Urry, 67–89. New York: St. Martins Press.

Selznick, S. 1969.Law, society and labor law. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Books.

Sennett, R. 1977.The Decline of the Public Man. Nova York: Knopf.

Simmel, G. [1903] 1971. The Big City and Mental Life. At theGeorg Simmel on individuality and social forms,DN Levine edition, 324-39. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Simmel, G. [1907] 1978.the philosophy of money. Londres: Routledge und Kegan Paul.

Sorokin , P. A. 1957 .Social and cultural dynamics. Boston abbreviated edition: Porter Sargent.

Stein, L. 1975.where the law ends. Nova York: Harper and Row.

Taussig, M. 1978.Demonic fetishism and merchandise. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.

Tonnies, F. and association. Londres: Routledge und Kegan Paul.

Toffler, A. 1980.the third wave. New York: Dwarf.

Touraine, A. industrial society. Londres: Wildwood house.

Touraine, A. 1977.Company's own production.. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Wallerstein, I. 1974.The modern world system. Nova York: Academic Press.

Wallerstein, I. 1979.The capitalist world economy. Nova York: Academic Press.

Weber, M. [1922] 1978.economy and society. Ed. 2 vols. Gunther Roth e Claus Wittich. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Williams, R. 1973.The countryside and the city. St. Albans, Ing.: Paladín.

Wirth, L. 1938. Urbanism as a Way of Life.american sociology magazine44, nº. 1:1–24.

Worsley, S. 1985.the three worlds. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Wright, EO 1985.lessons. Londres: New Left Books.


The future of capitalism

johannes berger

[Bernstein] says capitalist development does not lead to general economic collapse.
It does not simply reject a particular form of collapse. Rule out the mere possibility of a landslide.
R. LUXEMBOURG,reform or revolution

With the increasing development of society, a complete and almost general collapse of the current system of production becomes less and less likely, because capitalist development increases, on the one hand, the adaptability and, on the other hand... the differentiation of society .industry..
E. Bernstein,The Struggle of Social Democracy(The struggle of social democracy)

The question of the future of capitalism is almost as old as capitalism itself. From the beginning, the development of this new social order was accompanied by concerns about its internal stability as well as its general viability. These doubts are evident not only in Marx, but also in the efforts of so-called bourgeois sociology to grasp the elements of capitalism. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, many viewed the system negatively. The classic writings of European sociology reflect the view that the category of "modern" society is a transitional category; Modern society has overthrown the old social order but has not been able to establish a new one (Freyer 1930, 10, 165). However, with the advent of structural functionalism, this negative diagnosis disappeared. But even Parsons' (1971) theory of modern society is informed by a deep concern for its sustainability, and Luhmann (1984a) recognizes that modern society destabilizes structures and increases opportunities for critique.

Revisiting the question of the future of capitalism is a bold undertaking. Those who do this seem to view society and its development from an undistorted perspective. Historical materialism believed to have this point of view. A classic formulation of the idea that there is a special place within society from which the social whole can be viewed without distortion can be found in one of Lukács's early essays: "It is only with the appearance of the proletariat that


the recognition of social reality is complete. This achievement is achieved by finding a point in the class standpoint of the proletariat from which the whole of society becomes visible” (1923, 34). Complexity and diversity mean that the essence of society cannot be captured by reference to its core or centre.

Marx was convinced not only that a socialist society would inevitably follow a capitalist one, but also that a socialist society would also represent a higher level of civilization. In this chapter, however, I leave this normative dimension aside. Instead, I focus on the stability and likely future of capitalism. I also refer briefly to problems associated with doubts about the role of rationality in the modern world.

Because of the difficulty of examining the future of modern societies, it is desirable to follow a famous predecessor. I chose Schumpeter as my starting point over Marx because Schumpeter provided a new basis for studying the future prospects of capitalism. Both Schumpeter and Marx maintain that "capitalism" is an appropriate characterization of the contemporary historical epoch. In general sociological theory there is a debate between cultural explanations of modernity on the one hand (eg Berger, Berger and Kellner 1973) and Marxist explanations of capitalism on the other (Bader and Berger 1976; Adorno 1969). . This debate cannot be resolved here. I simply agree with Max Weber's belief that capitalism is "the most fateful force in modern life" (Weber 1920, 4). But as capitalism and modernity become synonymous, it is necessary to enrich the theory of capitalism with a corresponding theory of modernity. I do not wish to fall into any kind of economic reductionism by claiming that capitalism played a central role in the "great transformation" (Polanyi 1957); I simply claim that the modernity of the economy is the model for the modernization of other institutional areas.

I now turn to Schumpeter's central question: "Can capitalism survive?"

1. The viability of capitalism

This fateful question opens the second part of Schumpeter's classiccapitalism, socialism and democracy. He answers this question with a resounding no (Schumpeter [1942] 1962). After answering, you have to ask yourself: what kind of society will replace it? Schumpeter believed that socialism would follow. Although he saw socialism as a matter of evolutionary necessity, he also questioned whether socialism could work as an economic system. He answered that question with a resounding yes, thus rejecting the main argument developed by Weber and Mises that the economic order of socialism was unstable and inefficient.


Today, after the unprecedented forty-year boom of the capitalist world economy and after the final collapse of the socialist economies, almost any student of capitalist development will find it difficult to follow Schumpeter's logic. Why should socialism be an efficient economic order? And why should capitalism be an economic system with a limited lifespan? Didn't the post-war period demonstrate that capitalism is an extremely flexible and efficient economic system?

What all currents of socialist thought have in common is that, in the long run, capitalism will inevitably be replaced by socialism in a revolutionary process. Undoubtedly, Schumpeter shared with these lines of thought the idea of ​​a transition from capitalism to socialism, but he did not believe that socialism represented a higher stage of evolution. He saw socialism simply as a viable economic order. For Schumpeter, what distinguished socialism from capitalism was that under capitalism markets function as mechanisms for distributing the social product. The essence of capitalism was the combination of allocation and distribution functions within an economic mechanism, namely the market. By institutionalizing capital and labor markets, capitalist societies got rid of issues of distributive justice. However, the abolition of capital and labor markets does not mean that rational economic behavior is impossible in socialist societies. For Schumpeter, the reason for the decline of capitalism is not its economic failure. He does not support his argument that capitalism is capable of survival with the traditional argument of its susceptibility to crises. Instead, Schumpeter postulates an inherent connection between a capitalist economic order and growth. No other economic system is capable of achieving comparable economic growth. When capitalism collapses, it's not just because of its economic failure. Indeed, it is the success of capitalism that dooms it to failure. "My thesis," writes Schumpeter ([1942] 1962, 61), "is that the actual and prospective performance of the capitalist system is such as to refute the idea of ​​its collapse under the weight of economic failure, but that precisely such success shakes the social institutions that protect him and create "inevitable" conditions in which he cannot live, which strongly points to socialism as the heir apparent.

With this, Schumpeter put the theory of capitalism's self-destructive tendencies on a new basis. He wants to show that, unlike Marx, there are no purely economic reasons for the collapse of capitalism. He stresses that the self-destructive tendencies of capitalism can only be determined by stepping outside the realm of economic considerations and returning to the cultural complement of the capitalist economy, namely, its socio-psychological superstructure ([1924] 1962, 198). Among the social institutions undermined by the success of capitalism


Schumpeter includes (1) corporate function, (2) non-civic groups, and (3) private property and freedom of contract. The individual entrepreneur becomes superfluous with the transition from liberal to corporate capitalism: “The perfectly bureaucratized large industrial unit... displaces the entrepreneur (Schumpeter [1942] 1962, 134). , and the peasantry are not only feudal shackles, but also a prerequisite for the vitality of capitalism, in part because they are allies in the conflict of the bourgeoisie with the proletariat, in part because the bourgeoisie is "ill-equipped, in comparison with the aristocracy ". , to deal with the internal and external problems with which a country of any size normally has to deal" (Schumpeter [1942] 1962, 138). Private property and freedom of contract are being eroded by bureaucratization, the replacement of small businesses by large firms, and a "tropical growth of new legal structures" (Schumpeter [1942] 1962, 191).

To analyze the future perspectives of capitalism, Schumpeter uses the metaphor of a besieged fortress. Capitalism reduces its chances of survival not only by weakening the walls that protect it, but also by increasing the hostility of its enemies. Intellectuals play an important role in capitalism's creation of an "almost universal hostile atmosphere" (Schumpeter [1942] 1962, 143). The bourgeois fortress is defenseless because a capitalist order cannot control its intellectual sector, which “lives on criticism” (Schumpeter [1942] 1962, 151). This argument is anything but convincing. But even if the specific details of Schumpeter's argument are weak, the general argument is worth continuing. His general argument consists of two theses: (a) capitalism is undermined not by its failure but by the consequences of its success, and (b) these consequences lie not in the economic system but in the specific relationship between the economic system and its environment.

By replacing the Marxist perspective of "deterioration" with one that emphasized improvement and focused on the negative consequences of success, Schumpeter revolutionized the foundations of the theory of capitalist development. However, in speculating about the results of capitalist development, Schumpeter was quite conventional: he clung to the idea that socialism was the "heir" of capitalism (although he did not believe in socialism). Since he penned those words, history has utterly refuted Schumpeter's belief in the inevitability of socialism; today only a small minority sees in socialism the solution to the problems created by the capitalist mode of production. After World War II, the advanced capitalist countries enjoyed a prolonged period of unattainable prosperity.


find a precedent. This golden heyday ended in the 1970s, but since the mid-1980s the major industrial market economies have again experienced a period of growth. Either the social institutions that protect capitalism have not eroded as Schumpeter had hoped, or their erosion has not stopped the growth of capitalism.

Although the viability of capitalist economies is indisputable and socialist economies have not become a convincing alternative, it is imperative to reconsider Schumpeter's problem. Even if industrial market economies prove capable of sustained growth, it cannot be denied that this growth is causing serious problems in the environment of the economic system, of which the destruction of nature is just the most obvious example. The impact of economic growth on the social and natural environment can have an impact on the functioning of the economy. Sociological theory must face the possibility that the economy affects its environment in ways that make it difficult or impossible for the economy to reproduce in that environment. A Schumpeterian approach is more appropriate than a Marxist one for examining the implications for the future prospects of industrialized market economies. However, two important modifications to Schumpeter's framework need to be made. First, it is necessary to abandon the capitalism-socialism dichotomy; Socialism is by no means the future of capitalism. Second, we must rigorously separate the notion that a successful capitalist economy can be threatened by the negative consequences it unleashes on its environment from the notion of "general economic collapse" (Luxembourg, 1937).

To the extent that the framework of the analysis that follows differs from Schumpeter's, it is because I assume that structural change can ensure the viability of capitalism. This assumption does not serve to deny the vulnerability of capitalism to crises. On the other hand. However, these crises cannot be identified with the total dissolution of the existing or with the idea that the existing will be replaced by a completely different order, comparable to the transformation from feudalism to capitalism. Rather, I understand crises as situations in which the tensions inherent in the system have developed to such an extent that the core features of the system can no longer be maintained. The structure needs to be transformed, but the direction of transformation is uncertain. If we understand a crisis as a period of restructuring with an uncertain outcome, we can expect new prosperity and recognize the tensions inherent in the system. In any case, sociologists must avoid predicting with certainty the collapse of the capitalist economy. The tremendous flexibility, adaptability and innovative potential that capitalist economies have demonstrated since World War II should prevent us from jumping to conclusions.


I would like to address my main question by breaking it down into three parts:

1. What does capitalism mean?

2. What is the core problem of capitalism?

3. Is there a solution to the core problem of capitalism or will it finally collapse?

I argue that capitalism increases its viability by incorporating elements foreign to its pure form.

2. The meaning of capitalism

It is often claimed that the defining characteristic of capitalism is that the means of production are controlled by a small group called capitalists and that most workers are forced to sell their labor power to the owners of the means of production in order to earn money. earn a salary. alive. Capitalism means the separation of the worker from the means of production. However, one might wonder whether an approach that focuses on the conflict between capital and labor is not an oversimplified view of the fundamental changes that occurred during the "great transformation" (Polanyi 1957). Even supposing that control over the means of production is the defining characteristic of the capitalist economy, it is not clear that this description is a complete characterization of the structure of modernity. In practice, the sociological theory of modernity can be read as a critique of the attempt to anchor social theory in economic theory (Luhmann 1986). With these objections in mind, I interpret the emergence of the capital-labour relationship as an essential factor within the broader process of modernization. But what are the main features of this broader process?

Marx himself described modernization as a process in which the economy breaks out of traditional boundaries and gains autonomy. His successors did little more than resolve its various aspects.launch process(liberation process) that are constitutive of modernization. In traditional societies, “the economic system merged with general social relations... the self-regulated market was unknown; indeed, the emergence of the idea of ​​self-regulation was a complete reversal of the developmental trend” (Polanyi 1957, 67). The autonomy of the economy from the rest of society is essential for modernization. However, other areas of modern society - the state, law, science, etc. - have also become relatively autonomous. I therefore consider it unnecessary and futile to look for a dominant structure in history. The separate areas of politics, law, economics and the like can be derived from the "principle of


value” (cf. Sieferle 1984, 22). However, these spheres differ in the degree of their autonomy from the rest of society.

Three characteristics characterize the rise of the capitalist economy as a process ofLaunch:first, the separation of society into an economic and a political sphere, second, expanded reproduction (ie, ceaseless accumulation), and third, the dissolution of "communities" and "worldviews."

1. The characteristic feature of capitalism as an economic order is the liberation of economic activities from political tutelage. In the course of the transition from feudalism to capitalism, the economy is severed from the social order, of which political authority is the core. The separation of economic functions from the wider social context became the guiding principle of modernization as a whole. In sociological systems theory, this process is called "functional differentiation." Western Marxism also treats this differentiation as a separation of the economic sphere from the political sphere. Until this separation, the economy did not exist as an independent structure, that is, as a space for trade and employment. The resulting takeover company was a "free" society in the sense that economic activities were no longer fused with political concerns, as they were in business societies. Producers in the economy could now fully concentrate on their economic functions. This freedom meant that capitalist firms no longer based their production decisions on external (political) interests. Rather, their production decisions were based on norms of economic rationality (Weber 1972, 79).

2. Rational capitalism is not characterized by the pursuit of profit as such. We also find this in traditional societies. Nor is it characterized by the appropriation of a surplus, as also occurs in previous modes of production. Rather, capitalism is characterized by the reinvestment of appropriated surplus. “What is special about capitalism as a value-added system is that it is the only system that does not invest its added value in personal or public luxuries and ornaments, but in means of acquiring more wealth” (Heilbroner 1982, 35). The entrepreneur's task is to invest this surplus. The wealth of societies governed by the capitalist mode of production is based solely on the fact that capital accumulates. If the reinvestment of surplus is to take place continuously and rationally, then wage labor is necessary as a prerequisite for accumulation. Marx described this intrinsic compulsion to accumulate in capitalist systems as a process of self-determination. In the chapters on advanced playback inCapital,Volume 2, Marx (1970) analyzed the economy of modern society as a closed and self-referential system


Reproduction of its elements by the same elements (cf. Luhmann 1984b, 315; Maturana 1979). Marx chooses the commodity as this basic element, in contrast to Luhmann, who describes payment transactions as the basic element of the economy. Indeed, if Marx is right, the essence of a capitalist economy can be characterized as "commodity-for-commodity production" (Sraffa 1960). Such a system is self-referential: accumulation occurs through accumulation and is closed in the sense of reproducing the elements that compose it. Thus, the compulsion to accumulate characterizes the functioning of an "autopoietic" system, that is, a system whose reproduction takes place from the production of its elements with the help of a network of these elements.

3. Dissolving existing worldviews and communities is a multifaceted process. At least three different aspects must be distinguished.

(a) The rationalization of worldviews (cf. Habermas 1981a) is a process leading to the end of a unified metaphysics in the transition from the ancient to the modern world. As a result of this rationalization, the cultural value spheres of science, morals and art were separated. Since then there has been no unified belief system; at least three different belief systems have taken the place of earlier metaphysics. “Since the eighteenth century,” Habermas writes, “the problems inherited from these older worldviews can be placed under certain aspects of validity: truth, normative correctness, authenticity, and beauty. Then they could be treated as questions of knowledge, or of justice and morality, or of taste” (1981a, 8). Whereas old European philosophy envisioned a "single" and "closed" society, capitalism is characterized by diverse and complex belief systems that differ markedly from the unified systems of old Europe. Perhaps the most impressive description of the 'compact' world of antiquity and the Middle Ages is given by Lukács in his Romantheorie ([1920] 1971). This compactness disappears when capitalism invades pre-modern societies. The rise of capitalism causes these closed worlds to open up spatially and, above all, temporally. There is no open future before the rise of capitalism.

(b) Modernization is not limited to the emergence of separate subsystems, such as the economy, with specific functions. Equally important is the tendency to diverge between "system" and "lifeworld" (Habermas 1981b). In the course of modernization, the sphere of (bourgeois) society is freed from “community” ties. But in the same process, the meaning of "community" changes. Habermas' concept of the lifeworld represents the same phenomenon


what Parsons called the "social community" and what Tönnies tried to achieve with his distinction between "society" and community." 1982, 38) In sociological systems theory, this process is described as the dissociation of society from its interactions (Luhmann 1984a) There is no doubt that there was already some difference between society and its interactions in primitive society, but the gap widened throughout development, with the French Revolution the existence of division became evident, since then the belief in the government of society through of personal interactions has been considered elusive (Luhmann 1984a, 577, 579) Normative principles and orientations that have differentiated the functional subsystems of communication is Differentiation between societies In modern society, the normative orientations that dominate interactions often deviate from prevailing values ​​and orientations of action in science, business, and politics (Lu Hmann 1975). In modern economics, the separation between society ade and its interactions is equivalent to a distancing from normative contexts, the market becomes an "impersonal order"; It is no coincidence that thinkers as disparate as Marx and von Hayek used the term to describe the nature of market organization. Markets differ from other areas of society in that they require only a modicum of morality to function. In Streissler's terms, the market is an economic mechanism that could work even among demons (1980).

(c) Capitalism leads to the dissolution of all forms of coexistence. The classic description of this process is found in Marxfloor plants(1973). In the famous chapter on “Forms that precede capitalist production” (1973, 471-79, 483-514), Marx outlines a discontinuous view of historical evolution that differs radically from the evolutionary scheme he postulates in thePreface to a Critique of Political Economy(1969), who places capitalism on a continuum of social forms ranging from slavery to socialism. Capitalism implies a fundamental structural break in history. This break can be seen as a change from a "natural" (natural growth) to a “pure” mode of social integration (Breuer 1983). This crucial shift in the mode of social integration makes all social structures contingent. Because every social phenomenon of modernity is “made” or “produced” (put on), in principle they can also be conceived differently (cf. Touraine 1977).


After distinguishing the three essential characteristics of modernity, the question arises whether these characteristics have a common root. I believe that common root is the "liberation from the past" that results in the autonomy of the constituent parts of a modern society. A modern society differs from a pre-modern one in that there are no more social ties that prevent the parts of society from being separated. In pre-modern societies, the community functioned as this social bond. Of course, community has not disappeared from modern society, but has become more of a subsystem. Belonging to a community today is not a global process that leaves little room for individuality. At the level of individual behavior, this change in the "status" of the community is reflected in an increase in "choices" and a decrease in "attachments" (Dahrendorf 1979). In the transition to modernity, the cultural web that united different activities in traditional societies begins to unravel. In modern societies, there is no comparable core of normative values ​​that constrain options.

In the economic sphere, Marx's concept of "self-validation of value" as "perpetual motion" had already formulated the fundamental process by which the economy broke free from traditional ways of life. "All that is solid melts into air". This short sentence fromCommunist manifestocaptures the essence of modernization (Berman 1982). But it would be misleading to see this process as exclusively negative; at the level of society as a whole, modernization means not only disintegration, but also the development of productive forces, greater adaptability, and the like. Furthermore, at the level of the individual, it means emancipation and self-development.

3. The central problem of capitalism

Political economy examines the problems of capitalism arising from its internal weakness and instability. In contrast to the crisis theory approach of political economy, a theory of self-destructive tendencies (a la Schumpeter) emphasizes that capitalism's crucial problems arise from its enduring stability and strength, demonstrated, for example, by its ability to penetrate existing forms. of social life. . Although it can be questioned whether the history of capitalism is the history of progress, this mode of production is obviously evolutionarily superior in the sense that it replaces pre-modern forms of economic organization and that socialism does not present a stable or promising alternative. If we follow this line of thought, then the “contradictions” that are capable of endangering advanced capitalist economies – if they exist at all – are not due to the weakness, but to the strength of the economy. From this point of view, a


The capitalist economy creates systemic problems primarily through its functional efficiency and success, not through its functional shortcomings.

I have argued that the evolutionary core of the "great transformation" consists of a process of "liberating", "autonomizing" and "gaining independence" of various components of social life. Polanyi summed up this development with his concept of "uprootedness". Only an uprooted social system is capable of mobilizing the energies necessary to permeate and dissolve all given forms of social life, be they communities, lifeworlds, worldviews, etc.throwingDoes it have self-defeating tendencies?

The only way to identify these self-defeating tendencies is to show that when capitalist economies free themselves from normative constraints and instead pursue their own expansion, they destroy the conditions under which they function. These conditions are located in the natural and cultural environment of the capitalist system. Unless a capitalist system remains within "reasonable" limits, it endangers itself by endangering its environment.

This argument is made on a very general level. The general idea that expanding markets destroy the resources on which a market economy depends is one of social theory's most fundamental contributions to the analysis of how a market economy works. But pointing out this feedback loop is not enough to show that the destruction of the environment of a capitalist economy threatens its reproduction. For the argument to be persuasive, the mechanism by which such a self-threatening situation can arise must be shown. A lot happens before a robust economy is threatened. Since the fundamental problem of a capitalist economy is not its internal weakness but its strength, such a situation, in principle, can only develop if (a) a capitalist economy is crucially dependent on external resources and (b) these resources are exhausted on the external side .capitalist. become growth.

Speaking of the first point, radical environmentalists claim that capitalist systems only expanded in the past because they encountered a plethora of previously undiscovered natural resources (Immler 1989). But this interpretation can be challenged. It contradicts the view that capitalist expansion is mainly caused by endogenous factors. This view is held by mainstream economics, and even Marx's neo-Ricardian interpretation does not deviate too far from it, claiming that surplus labor "cannot play an essential role in the theory of why profits are positive." (Steedman 1977, 50). According to this view, the viability of the capitalist economy depends on its productivity. An economy is productive when it produces more goods than it consumes. Mainstream economics claims that productivity


The quality of the capitalist system is due to its technology. Neo-Ricardians add: And their real wage levels.

Speaking of the second point, the main problem is to specify the limits beyond which the destruction of external resources puts the reproduction of the economy at risk. Self-defeating tendencies can go unnoticed for a long time because they vary according to the environment's ability to deal with adversity rather than the system's ability to adapt. If it is possible to quantify the amount of pollutants that nature can handle, these amounts need not limit the functioning of the economic system that causes that pollution. Before natural limits to growth are reached, regulatory limits are likely to be felt. Whether and to what extent the destruction of the natural environment has an impact on the functioning of the economy depends largely on a collective decision on the normative question of how much environmental pollution a society is willing to accept.

But the attempts to substantiate the notion that the progressive destruction of nature "in the long run" harms the functioning of the economy must not only take into account the imprecision of the objective limits of the destruction of nature, but also make the problem of the economy system - in the with regard to the consequences of environmental degradation - less sensitive than other parts of society. Public opinion, new social movements and the social community are becoming more sensitive to ecological issues because a fundamental value of these systems, the quality of life, is threatened by environmental degradation. The low response to ecological issues (Luhmann 1986) in the economic system is mainly due to the fact that the economic system has managed to realize a high degree of autonomy in relation to its environment. It has a system-specific direction of action - provision for future needs - a system-specific selection criterion - efficiency - a system-specific means of communication - money - and a system-specific code - the price system. These system-specific features, which underline the steady expansion of the economic system, may also explain why the economy tends to perceive environmental problems in a distorted way. For example, the “language of prices” (Luhmann 1983) can only understand the problems arising from the depletion of natural resources if these resources are priced and then represent only the price aspect of the problem in question.

So far I have only discussed the question of whether the destruction of external resources can impede economic expansion relative to natural resources. I left out the destruction of normative and cultural resources and the possible impact of their destruction on the economy. Hirsch (1976) has examined the "overarching moral legacy" of capitalism. He sees the market system as an attempt to "build a


increasingly explicit social organization without a supporting social morality” (1976, 12).

The social morality that underpinned economic individualism is a legacy of the pre-capitalist and pre-industrial past. This legacy has diminished with time and with the corrosive contact of active capitalist values…. As a result, the system lost the external support that individuals had previously taken for granted. As individual behavior becomes increasingly oriented towards individual gain, habits and instincts based on shared activities and goals have been lost. (1976, 117-18)

As Hirsch points out, the loss of well-being and the growing difficulties in managing capitalist economies are direct consequences of the weakening of traditional social values.

While Hirsch's argument is attractive, I don't intend to discuss it at length. The only point I would like to emphasize is that it is reasonable to use ecological arguments rather than moral arguments when examining the effects of external resource depletion on the economy. The main reason for this preference is that a capitalist order not only destroys the moral order inherited from the past, but also creates a new one based on capitalist foundations. For example, as Axelrod (1984) has shown, self-interest can act as a source of cooperation. While a capitalist order can create a social morality capable of sustaining the functioning of the system, the same cannot be said of natural resources. The economy can reduce its consumption of natural resources and there can be substitutes for them, but no economic system can create them. Therefore, there is a strong case for focusing on ecological problems when it comes to the fundamental problems of a capitalist market economy, which relate to its strengths rather than its weaknesses.

In summary, for the search for possible solutions to the ecological problem to be convincing, only two assumptions are necessary:

1. A booming economy can destabilize nature. It is not necessary to assume that its expansion is based on the exploitation of natural resources.

2. There is a need for action, even if the economy is less affected by the consequences of environmental degradation than other social systems, such as the social community.

4. Possible solutions

If we assume that the ecological problems derived from the "perpetual movement of accumulation" solve the problems derived from


On the Labor-Capital Front, then the key question is whether this cumulative movement can be contained and sensitized to its secondary effects. A satisfactory answer to the question of which strategies are successful in steering an economy on a path that does no or less damage to the ecology would require an examination of the different control mechanisms that modern society has at its disposal (markets, state, community, businesses, etc., see Streeck and Schmitter 1985). However, this task goes well beyond the scope of this chapter. I will confine myself to some superficial comments about whether democratization can help. I would also like to point out that self-control (self-regulation) and increasing personal responsibility seem to be a promising way to approach the ecological problem.

In a thought-provoking article on why "large and rare whales keep dying", Gonigle (1980) describes the conflict between ecology and economics as a result of the "commercialization" of ecology. For him, ecology means more than just protecting the natural environment. "Economics" and "ecology" represent different "decision rules". The difference between the two sets of decision rules is defined by the different time horizons that each of them implies. Economic decisions are future-oriented because they anticipate future needs (Weber 1972, 31, 35). However, its time horizon is limited to the short term. Long-term problems are not considered in rational investment decisions. The investor who neglects the future pursues a return-maximizing strategy, even if this leads to the depletion of the natural resources on which he depends. Unlike economic decision-making, ecological decision-making recognizes that the earth must be preserved for future generations. Therefore, present needs must be balanced with future needs. From an ecological point of view, economic behavior can be seen as an attack from the present to the future. Economically, the market distribution is suboptimal from an intertemporal and intergenerational point of view.

In evolutionary terms, the main problem with economic decision-making is that it threatens the balance between economics and ecology. It is therefore short-sighted to see the solution of this problem in the transition to socialism. This distinction between capitalism and socialism does not get to the bottom of the problem. Gonigle sees the extinction of the great whales in the context of the general problem of lack of integration between the economic system and its natural environment. For him, the solution to the problem lies in the policy of ecological change. The result of this transition would be the institutionalization of a radically different way of making decisions. Gonigle conventionally describes this as “democratic” decision-making that must take into account the interests of the natural environment. But Gonigle doesn't explain what he means by "democratic".


Traditionally, democratic decision-making is equated with employee participation in company investment decisions. Following this conventional definition, it would be necessary to explain how worker participation is necessarily a means of integrating the interests of the natural environment. The exact opposite can happen. The postwar growth of Europe's welfare states was based on a capital-labour exchange that included a ruthless disregard for the consequences of growth on the natural environment.

The problem of controlling ecological risks in decision-making leads to a more emphatic and radical notion of democratization. This idea is present in Marx's projection of a post-capitalist type of association that allows people to control their ownlife context(social life) rather than being controlled by it. Heilbroner, with reference to the book by Branko Horvat.The political economy of socialismhe describes this radical democratization of decision-making as the “full housing of decision-making and responsibility for the work process at work and the full allocation of political responsibility with citizens” (1982, 39). Given the degree of differentiation of modern societies, it is not clear what kind of institutional changes would be required to achieve such control. It is not enough simply to refer to the principle that only interested parties should decide as a general rule for decision-making. This rule is not practical because affected individuals cannot be separated from unaffected ones. For example, who is affected by an economic decision? Furthermore, this rule could be scrapped for regulatory reasons, not to mention the likely drop in efficiency.

Minimizing ecological risks requires more than a vague appeal to democratic decision-making (cf. Perrow 1984). We need to explore available strategies to sensitize the economic system to the destructive consequences that "perpetual accumulation" has on the system's environment. Recent literature on control strategies and social planning attempts to explore the potential for institutional change through "self-control" (auto-check). Self-regulation replaces state intervention, but should not be equated with deregulation. Under self-regulation, the political system helps to increase the economy's capacity for self-organization. The principle of self-regulation can be summarized as follows: the economy is restructured in order to become aware of the side effects of economic decisions on the economic environment. As the capacity for self-control increases, the economic system ceases to maximize efficiency without concern for the environment: the standards of a healthy environment are taken into account in economic decisions. This measure increases the functional rationality of economic decisions to the extent that the functional rationality of decisions depends on the ability of a system to be aware of the consequences of its actions.


These consequences may be indirect, remote or non-economic. Internalizing patterns of rationality that involve the environment does not mean completely abandoning the pursuit of self-interest or systemic goals. Rather, it means that these goals must be pursued in such a way that the side effects of pursuing goals are considered from the outset (Teubner and Willke 1984).

Any reorganization of the economy based on self-regulation amounts to an increase in the perception of the economy. A possible way to achieve the necessary institutional change is the monetization of ecology, that is, the greening of the economy through the economicization of ecology. As long as nature is a free good, rational decision-making must treat it as such.

(Video) Theoretical Debates in Sociology: Modernity and Late Modernity (Sociology Theory & Methods)

This openness of the economic system to environmental problems should not be confused with "de-differentiation". De-differentiation occurs when the economy pursues non-economic goals (eg education). In contrast, the inclusion of environmental effects in economic decision-making does not affect the functional specialization of the economic system. Rather, it is about the autonomy of the economic system. A model for opening the economy to the environment is social policy. Heimann ([1929] 1980) describes the principle of social policy as the realization of welfare state ideas in capitalism.contraCapitalism. Welfare ideas are inherently anti-capitalist in the sense that their realization amounts to the revolutionary restructuring of the capitalist economy. However, the implementation of welfare state ideas stabilizes demand and dampens resistance to the capitalist order. In this way, welfare state ideas contribute to the survival of capitalism and social policy is both revolutionary and conservative (Heimann [1929] 1980).

It can now be argued that the politics of realizing ecological ideas in capitalism against capitalism is analogous to Heimann's definition of the contradictory nature of social policy. Assuming that ecological policy finds normative consensus, the more important question is whether ecological ideas should be realized through external control or by increasing the economy's spontaneous self-control. In the latter case, "control" means increasing the system's empathy and linking its autonomy through "heteronomization". As a result, a green economy would avoid further degradation of the natural environment and the decline of spheres of life. Such a transformation to an ecological economy would imply a reorganization of the relationship between the economy and other social orders. It would also allow for a greater variety of modes of production and lifestyles. In this way, “reflexive” forms of control are compatible with the autonomy of the economy. By reflective types of controls, I mean those types of controls that reflect the negative effects of the system's operations on its environment. Why


reflexive modes of control, a system that becomes aware of the disturbing effects of its operations; This awareness is a necessary condition for the will to reduce the magnitude of these impacts.

I maintain that autonomy (absence of common ties) is, on the one hand, a necessary condition for the efficiency of the economy and, on the other hand, leads to neglect of the environment. Therefore, skepticism about the possibility of an ecologically sensitive capitalist economy is justified. It can certainly be argued that reflexive forms of control are rather unlikely given the self-referential workings of the economy. In my opinion, at least two conditions must be met for effective self-regulation:

1. Governments must prioritize environmental policies and

2. There must be social movements that try to influence economic decisions through public discourse.

However, to ensure that the environment appears on the “screens” of the subsystems, it is worth resorting to the specific means of each subsystem. In the case of business, that medium is money.

As recent environmental disasters have repeatedly shown, there is still a lack of self-control and reflection. But does the autonomy of the economy necessarily mean its inability to learn? If the answer is yes, then the question of capitalism's survival becomes the question of whether capitalism can survive a political discussion about the costs and benefits of a mode of production that buys growth through environmental destruction; It doesn't take much imagination to describe a situation where corporate refusal to take environmental concerns into account makes government intervention that limits corporate autonomy inevitable.


Adorno, T.W., Hrsg. 1969.Late capitalism or industrial society? Negotiations at the 16th German Sociological Conference in Frankfurt, 1968. Stuttgart: widow

Axelrod, R. 1984.The development of cooperation.. New York: Essential Books.

Bader, V.M., J. Berger et al. 1976.Introduction to the theory of society: Karl Marx and Max Weber in comparison. Frankfurt: Campus.

Berger, P., B. Berger e H. Kellner. 1973the homeless ghost. Nova York: Random House.

Bermann, M. 1982.All that is solid melts into air. New York: Penguin.

Bernstein, E. 1987-98. The struggle of social democracy and the revolution of society. At thethe new time,do not. 18, 548-57.

Breuer, S. history of natural law. Opladen: West German Publisher.

Dahrendorf, R. opportunities. Frankfurt: Suhrkamp.


Freyer, A. 1930.Sociology as a science of reality. Leipzig: Teubner.

Gonigle, R. M. 1980. The "Commercialization" of Ecology: Why Large and Rare Whales Keep Dying.Quarterly Ecology Law9:120–237.

Habermas, J. 1981a. Modern versus german review22:5–18.

Habermas, J. 1981b.the theory of communicative action. Frankfurt: Suhrkamp.

Heilbroner, R. L. 1982. The future of capitalism.challenge25:32–39.

Heimann, E. [1929] 1980.The Social Theory of Capitalism: Theory of Social Policy: With a Foreword by Bernhard Badura. Frankfurt: Suhrkamp.

Hirsch, F. 1976.Social limits to growth. Cambridge, Mass: Routledge e Kegan Paul.

Horvart, B. 1983.The political economy of socialism. Nova York: ME Sharpe.

Immler, H. 1989.Of the value of nature. Opladen: West German Publisher.

Lukács, G. [1920] 1971.The Theory of the Novel: A Historical-Philosophical Essay on the Forms of the Great Epic. Neuwied: Luchterhand.

Lukács, G. 1923.History and Class Consciousness: Studies in Marxist Dialectics. Berlin: Malik Verlag.

Luhmann, N. 1975. Interaction, organization, society. At thesociological illustration,Ed. N. Luhmann, 2:9-20. Opladen: West German Publisher.

Luhmann, N. 1983. These are the prices: an attempt at sociological-systemic-theoretical clarification. At thesocial world34:153–70.

Luhmann, N. systems. to plantba general theory. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp.

Luhmann, N. 1984b. The economy of society as an autopoietic system.Sociology Magazine13:308–27.

Luhmann, N. 1986.Ecological communication: can modern society adapt to ecological threats?Opladen: West German Publisher.

Luxembourg. R. 1937.reform or revolution. Trans. Entire. New York: Three Arrows Press, 1937.

Marx, K. 1953.Outlines of the Critique of Political Economy. Berlin: Dietz Verlag.

Marx, K. 1969.On the critique of political economy. NoFactories,by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, 13:3-160. Berlin: Dietz Verlag.

Marx, K. 1970.Capital: Critique of Political Economy. vol. 2,The process of capital circulation. NoFactories,by K. Marx and F. Engels, Vol. 24. Berlin: Dietz-Verlag.

Marx, K. 1973.floor plants. Fundamentals of the critique of political economy. ed. Mr Nicholas. New York: Vintage.

Maturana, H. 1979.Autopoietic systems: a characterization of living organization. Urbana: University of Illinois Press.

Mises, LV 1932.The Common Economy: Studies in Socialism. Jena: G. Fischer.

Okishio, N. 1977. Notes on Technological Progress and Capitalist Society.Cambridge Economics Magazine1:93–100.

Parsons, T. 1971.The system of modern societies.. Englewood Cliffs, Nova Jersey: Prentice-Hall.

Perrow, ca. 1984.Normal accidents: living with risky technologies. New York: Essential Books.


Polanyi, K. 1957.The Great Transformation: The Political and Economic Origins of Our Time. Boston: Beacon Press.

Schumpeter, J. [1942] 1962.capitalism, socialism and democracy. Nova York: Harper and Row.

Sieferle, RP 1984.Enemies of progress?: opposition to technology and industry from romanticism to the present. Munique: CH Beck.

Sraffa , S. 1960 .Production of commodities through commodities. Londres: Cambridge University Press.

STEDMANN, Ian. 1977.Marx and Sraffa. Londres, New Left Books.

Streeck, W. and PC Schmitter. 1985. Community, Market, State and Associations? The probable contribution of stock control to the social order.european sociological journal1:119–38.

Streissler, E. 1980. Critique of the neoclassical equilibrium approach as justification for market systems. At themarket economics systems theoryEd. E. Streissler and C. Watrin, 38-60. Tubinga: Mohr.

Teubner, G. and H. Willke. 1984. Context and Autonomy: Social Self-Regulation Through Reflexive Law.Journal of Legal Sociology6:4–35.

Tonnies, F. and society. Nosociology dictionary,abridged edition, ed. A. Vierkandt, 27-38. Stuttgart: Enke.

Touraine, A. 1977.Company's own production.. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Weber, M. 1920.Collected essays on the sociology of religion.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . vol. 1. Tubinga: Mohr.

Weber, M. 1972.Economy and society: schemes for understanding sociology.. . . . Editing of the textbook Tübingen: Siebeck and Mohr.


Cultural change and sociological theory

Roberto Wutnow

The study of cultural change has a long and distinguished history in sociological theory. Going back in time, one immediately thinks of Comte's characterization of the development from theological culture to metaphysical culture and scientific culture. Or consider the more dynamic aspects of Malinowski's approach to culture, or Herbert Spencer's work on cultural evolution. Marx, Weber and Durkheim come to mind to paint large canvases depicting the contours of modern cultural change. Turning to more recent theorists, we consider Sorokin's model of the cyclical dynamics of sensory ideas and cultures and Parsons' specification of standard variables as ways of modeling cultural developments associated with social differentiation. Parson's staged theory of social evolution finds expression as a model of cultural evolution in the writings of Bellah, Eisenstadt, Dobert, and Habermas. Peter Berger, Thomas Luckmann and Hans Blumenberg made significant statements on the topic of cultural modernization. In the Marxist tradition, figures such as Lukács, Althusser and Therborn brought rich offerings. And we have many more focused empirical studies and specific theoretical investigations by scientists such as Michel Foucault, Anthony Giddens, Niklas Luhmann, Neil Smelser and Wolf Lepenies.

Unlike most historians' approaches to cultural change, sociologists have been interested in developing broad theoretical models. Rather than focusing on descriptive details of specific episodes of cultural change, they have tried to identify recurrent patterns that represent broad directions of change or stylize major sources of change. While the historian is skeptical about broad generalizations of this sort, sociologists have been brave enough to try.


formulate powerful theoretical perspectives based on deductive logic and comparative studies. Presumably these overviews were based on historical "facts", but their purposes were both normative and descriptive. Its role was not just to summarize some of what we know about the past, but also to tell a story of where we've been and where we're going. As such, sociological theory acts as a guide that influences the choice of topics to focus on. Particularly in theories of cultural change, the chosen framework determines the types of questions that can be asked. In sociology, this aspect of how theoretical perspectives work is more explicit. However, the same role is often seen in the work of historians, even if they are less inclined to acknowledge it.

Of course, much has been written about the respective roles of historical research and sociological theory, and about the more specific interface between social history and historical sociology. The distinctions made in this literature are also highly relevant to the issue of cultural change. Beyond that, however, the problem of culture has its own set of difficulties. As soon as we enter its domain, our feet seem to sink into a quagmire of conceptual and empirical confusion. Not only do we face the usual problems of selecting appropriate evidence and developing plausible theoretical generalizations, but we seem to be entering a never-never land of subjective notions about beliefs and motivations that have only vague references in the world of observable empirical evidence. . We find endless debates about epistemology, ontology, and interpretation that scholars face before the research task begins. The very meaning of "culture", let alone how it is changing, seems to inspire little consensus.

My intention here is not to address the broader issues of definition and theoretical method that surround the study of culture. Instead, I reconstruct - and then critically question - the main assumptions upon which the two main theories of cultural change in sociology were developed. First, I show that these two perspectives are clearly identifiable in the sociological literature, that both stem from classical sociological theory, and that they continue to influence much of our contemporary thinking about cultural change. Second, I propose several criteria that can be used to judge the adequacy of these theories and show that both theories fail on these points. Finally, I briefly discuss an alternative approach to cultural change towards which some of the more recent work on the subject seems to be moving.

A clarification is needed from the beginning. Cultural change can refer to many different things, so many that the topic needs to be more precisely defined for a fruitful discussion to emerge. three to simplify


Variants of cultural change can be distinguished. First, there are many cases of cultural change that are part of a particular social movement and seem to do little more than reinforce or challenge a particular idea. An example would be the new emphasis placed on nature by the environmental movement in recent years. Second, in some discussions, cultural change is presented primarily as a gradual, incremental process that seems to occur largely as a result of imperceptible changes in socialization patterns. An example of this kind of cultural shift would be the supposed long-term decline of superstition over the past five hundred years or so. Finally, cultural change sometimes seems to occur abruptly, on a large scale, and as part of a relatively distinct social movement or set of social movements. The Protestant Reformation may serve as an example. These distinctions are hardly intended as strict deductive categories, but they serve our present purposes nonetheless. The theoretical perspectives I examine in this chapter focus primarily on the third type of cultural change. In places I also touch on aspects of the first two, but my focus is on broader, historically identifiable cultural changes associated with a specific group of people, movement or series of movements.

1. Cultural adaptation theory

Cultural change has often been characterized in sociological theory as a process of development or evolution that occurs through a series of analytically distinct stages in response to changing social conditions. Variously described as institutional differentiation, increasing social complexity, or more specific trends such as urbanization and industrialization, social conditions are said to create problems that lead to new cultural patterns. Furthermore, these processes are usually not completely neutral towards new developments, but are aimed at improving society's adaptability to fulfill the tasks necessary for survival. Consequently, the cultural changes that become theoretically interesting will be those that provide evidence of "adaptive actualization," to use Talcott Parsons's term (1971, 27), or "adaptive modification," as Marshall Sahlins (1960, 12) has suggested. restrained

An early formulation of cultural adaptation theory can be found in DurkheimThe division of labor in society([1893] 1933). This formulation concretely connects cultural change with the increasing institutional differentiation that accompanies the expansion and complexity of societies. In a relatively undifferentiated society. Durkheim ([1893] 1933, 287) argues that everyone is connected to things "in the same way", so cultural expressions remain connected to the concrete ("this animal,


this tree, this plant"). In a larger and more diverse society, experiences are more diverse, so people must move to a higher level of abstraction to generate a common understanding (not "such animal, but such species") Durkheim summarizes his general thesis in the following formula: "[Common consciousness] changes its nature as societies become larger. As these societies spread over a larger area, the common consciousness itself is compelled to rise above local differences, more to dominate space, and consequently more abstract" ([1893] 1933, 287). As an example, he suggests that religious conceptions become increasingly abstract and internally differentiated as societies become more complex. In the simplest scenarios, sanctity tends to be an attribute of objects like individual gods." .... Thus arises the idea of ​​spirits or gods which ... exist outside the particular objects to which they are attached more specifically ... [and] less concrete" ([1893] 1933, 288). Christianity, for example, it articulated a clearer distinction between God and nature than earlier Greek polytheism. The Christian God was also more abstract and universal: the God of mankind rather than the God of the city or clan. As a general correlate of the division of the work in modern societies, Durkheim also suggests a trend towards greater rationality and cultural individuality. Rationality is associated with general principles that allow communication in different situations, individuality with the fact that generalized cultural abstractions can be applied in different ways by different individuals. For example, science is a rational mode of communication that transcends local and national cultures; When we say "in my opinion" or "I believe", we individualize science so that it can mean different things to different people.

Directly or indirectly, Durkheim's perspective found its way into the work of a large number of recent theorists. Parsons, for example, describes cultural change as a process of "value generalization" induced in particular by the increasing complexity of social patterns: "As the web of socially structured situations becomes more complex, the pattern of values ​​in You must to a higher level of generality to ensure social stability” (1971, 27). As examples, he cites changes in religious beliefs, the development of empirical and theoretical knowledge, and changes in legal systems. Together, according to Parsons, these developments form the critical basis for cultural change: "The generalization of value systems, so that they can regulate social action effectively without relying on particularistic prohibitions, was a central factor in the modernization process." "(1971, 15). The same argument has been outlined by Niklas Luhmann, who until recently relied heavily on Parsons' general theory or the point of view he borrowed. on a


Luhmann explains a concise statement on cultural change: "The reason for...the emergence of ideologies lies in...which, in turn, can only be achieved if more effective mechanisms for reducing complexity are institutionalized" (1982, 101 ). Others who have adopted this general view of cultural change include Robert Bellah, whose Stages Theory of Religious Evolution makes a great attempt to describe broad patterns of cultural change, and Jürgen Habermas (1979), particularly in his sparse formulations of cultural evolution (in many aspects similar to Bellah's [1970] theory), they describe cultural evolution primarily as a response to increasing social complexity.

Although the notion of social complexity remains largely abstract in these formulations, two specific types of social change are often cited as major sources of cultural adaptation. One is urbanization. Durkheim, for example, singles out rapid urbanization as a particularly likely source of increased cultural abstraction, rationality, and individuality. In fast-growing cities, he notes, the population consists of large numbers of immigrants. Their experience is determined by two general conditions: they have to adapt to social circumstances that are very different from those they had as children, and the composition of the city is more diverse due to the different origins of immigrants. Both, he suggests, encourage new perspectives and habits of thought.

The other specific type of social change identified in the literature as an important source of cultural adaptation is economic expansion. Economic growth has a dramatic impact on culture, especially when that growth occurs quickly. Although the exact order of causality varies from formulation to formulation, the breakdown of established social relations, which is believed to accompany rapid economic growth, is often identified as an important factor. Durkheim, for example, articulates this notion, particularly emphasizing the rootlessness of community and the potential for disorientation that accompanies the transition to industrial society. During this transition, people are particularly receptive to new ideas.

Although the emphasis in cultural adaptation models has been on continuous and gradual evolutionary changes, specific historical episodes have often been identified as important examples of such changes. Durkheim alludes briefly to three of these periods. The first, from the 15th century onwards, consisted mainly of breaking the communal ties between masters and workers that accompanied the growing specialization of crafts. "From the fifteenth century onwards", observes Durkheim, "things began to change". Before that time "the worker


he lived side by side with his master everywhere." They shared a common experience and a common culture to develop a more sophisticated set of cultural abstractions. The second period that Durkheim identifies is the Industrial Revolution of the late 17th and 18th centuries , and the third period of rapid social change was, in Durkheim's view, his own: the late nineteenth century.

In other formulations, these periods of rapid social change have also been identified as particularly salient moments in the development of modern culture. Parsons, for example, identifies the collapse of the feudal form of social integration in the late Middle Ages as the social change that culminated in the Renaissance and the Reformation. The Reformation, in particular, serves as a key example of cultural adaptation in Parsons' evolutionary framework. He suggests that it was "a movement to raise secular society to the highest religious level" (1971, 48). In a brief passage, Parsons also focuses on the eighteenth century, particularly pre-Revolutionary France, as a period of rapid growth in social complexity due to state efforts to expand the political system throughout the country. This increasing complexity, he suggests, created the conditions for the greater emphasis on empirical knowledge and mass education that emerged as a result of the Enlightenment. Likewise, according to Parsons, the rapid industry of the late 19th century seems to illustrate the relationships between increasing social complexity and cultural appreciation. He suggests that the rise of socialist ideology during this period was, for example, a reaction to the fact that capitalism had not fully extended the conception of rights and equality to all social strata; Socialism was facilitated by the erosion of ascribed social intentions and, in turn, aided in the process of mobilizing "the power of government to establish basic equality" (1971, 97).

2. Class legitimation theory

The alternative to evolutionary theories of cultural adaptation tends to focus on class legitimacy. In this approach, cultural change arises from the change in the position of social classes in relation to each other. When a new social class comes to power, it is said that it has to legitimize itself both before sectors of the old dominant class and before the lower strata of the population. At these moments in history, new ideologies emerge to legitimize it. Cultural change is adaptive towards the emerging ruling class, but unlike the other approach, this change is considered more abrupt and in the service of a


certain social interests. The main source of this theory of cultural change was, of course, Marx. However, similar arguments can also be found in Weber's discussion of the role of status groups in bringing about cultural change.

In Marxist theory, the need for ideological legitimation arises primarily from the fact that each emerging social class faces resistance from existing elites. For this emerging class to succeed, it must develop a broader coalition of support. As Marx and Engels writegerman ideology"Each new class which takes the place of a ruler before it is compelled, simply to achieve its object, to represent its interest as the common interest of all members of society" ([1846] 1947, 40-41). This is the impetus that leads to the articulation of a new ideology, i. there is a set of ideas formulated in universalist terms and widely disseminated in a society.

The specific content of a new ideology, according to the Marxist view, is shaped by two conditions: first, the fact that the new ideas reflect the particular historical experience of the emerging ruling class, and second, the fact that control of the new ruling class power. means of ideological production. For example, in explaining the emergence of new political doctrines during the Enlightenment, Marx and Engels point out that the idea of ​​separation of powers reflects the actual experience of the bourgeoisie in competing for power with the aristocracy and monarchy. They also compare the production of ideas with the production of goods, making control over the means of cultural production a crucial factor. As they write, the class that “has at its disposal the material means of production also has control over the intellectual means of production, so that, in general, the ideas of those who lack the intellectual means of production are subject to it” ( [1846] 1947, 39).

Elements of class legitimacy arguments can also be found, for example, in Weber's comments on the social sources of the Reformation. Weber's main interest in the Reformation was, of course, the impact of Protestantism on capitalism, not the origins of the Reformation itself, but he elaborated on the role of social conditions in bringing about the Reformation. At theeconomy and societyHe argued that the Reformation was, at least indirectly, "partially determined" by economic factors, namely the emergence of the bourgeoisie as a class characterized by a more streamlined ethics, a preoccupation with self-justification, and less exposure to "natural phenomena". organic" that the rural classes had. It was, he wrote, "the particular piety of the highly religious middle classes that drew them to the side of reformist preachers against the traditional apparatus of the church" (1978, 1197). relative of the bourgeoisie which determined which of the various branches of the Reformation should prevail in different areas.


the bourgeoisie prevailed, "ascetic varieties of Protestantism" prevailed, but wherever princes and nobles remained in power, the situation was more favorable for the rise of Anglicanism or Lutheranism.

A similar line of thought can be found in Weber's isolated comments on the Enlightenment. Here, too, he is more interested in the consequences of Enlightenment teachings for later economic development than in a full account of their origin. Consequently, he suggests in passing that charisma played a role in the dawn of the Enlightenment. However, he also points out that the growing importance of ethical rationality in the bourgeoisie contributed to the fundamental principle of the Enlightenment - the basic rights of the individual - and that the Enlightenment was strengthened over time by its affinity with the advance of capitalism. . In particular, he points out that the eighteenth century was marked by a greater awareness of individual rights in the economic sphere, including "the right to pursue one's own economic interests", "the sanctity of individual property", "freedom of contract", and " Career choice". These ethical norms, he suggests, "find their ultimate justification in the Enlightenment belief in the workings of individual reason, which, if left untrammeled, would at least lead to the relatively best of all worlds." he compares the Enlightenment doctrine of human rights with that of ascetic Protestantism and suggests that it had a corrosive effect on traditional hereditary norms, which "facilitated the spread of capitalism" and "made it possible for the capitalist to use things and people freely". "(1978, 1209).

In explaining the emergence of socialist ideology, Weber again emphasizes the role of status groups and economic interests. Here, however, it is no longer the laissez-faire bourgeoisie, but the "bureaucratic literati" whose interests are being promoted by the new ideology. He writes: "This sober fact of general bureaucratization lies behind the so-called 'German ideas of 1914', behind what writers euphemistically call 'future socialism', behind the slogans 'organized society', cooperative economy" and all the similar contemporary phrases. Even if they point to the contrary, they always promote the rise of bureaucracy" (1978, 1400). The unintended consequence of socialist ideology, in this perspective, was to legitimize an expanded rationalization of society, an expanded conception of rights and duties (for the common good , full employment, old-age security, etc.) that would require a growing cadre of bureaucrats to manage.This cadre was therefore interested in promoting some version of socialist ideology.

More generally, the theoretical themes evident in these arguments are also evident in Weber's detailed treatment of relations between status groups and religious ideology. during this discussion


Weber is primarily concerned with tracing the origins of rational ethics in religion. Consequently, many of his specific statements about the propensity of different status groups to cultural innovation must be interpreted with this specific reference in mind. However, he also offers many more general comments that reveal his broader perspective. Like Marx, Weber assumes that class has a strong influence on the character of beliefs. Although Weber's concept of the "status group" is considerably broader than Marx's concept of class (which allows Weber to refer to the social in both pre-capitalist and capitalist societies), he often refers to Marxist categories such as the proletariat, the bourgeoisie and the petty bourgeoisie. bourgeoisie. These and other status groups, he argues, have distinctive ideological characteristics: the peasantry has an ideology rooted in nature and magic, with a relative lack of rational ethical guidelines; nobility (especially "noble warriors"), belief in fate, divine protection from evil and just causes; bureaucrats, a highly rational ideology that despises magic and superstition, focuses on sober and disciplined order, and has no interest in personal salvation; the bourgeoisie, a skeptical and worldly orientation; the petty bourgeoisie, an inclination towards personal piety and communal religion; and the proletariat, a secular ideology that emphasizes reliance on social influences. On the surface, Weber's examples often seem arbitrary and inductive. However, he is concerned to show that there is an even closer relationship between social positions and ideologies than class relations alone would suggest. However, with the advent of modern class relations, they are increasingly becoming a dominant influence on belief.

Like the cultural fit perspective, theories of class legitimacy have been elaborated far beyond their original formulations in classical theory. However, rather than simply tracing the evolution of these literatures, it will be more effective to discuss the diverse contributions in the context of critical issues related to both perspectives. As criteria for assessing the theoretical adequacy of the two approaches, I use the following considerations: (1) the concept of culture implicit in each approach; (2) the clarity of the explanatory variables in each of them; (3) variability in the speed and timing of cultural change; (4) the mechanisms of cultural change; and (5) the relationship between theory and history.

3. Critical considerations

3.1 The concept of culture

The concept of culture, which implicitly characterizes both cultural adaptation and the class legitimacy model of cultural change, emphasizes the subjective characteristics of culture. This emphasis is evident in


the terms with which culture is identified: "collective consciousness" (Durkheim), "action orientations" (Parsons), "class consciousness" (Marx), "beliefs and conceptions" (Weber), "mental structures" ( Mannheim). While there are other, more objective aspects of ideology in these conceptions, the basic orientation derives from more of a variant of subject-object duality in which ideas are associated with the subjective realm, while behavior and social structure are conceived as objective realities. One of the difficulties with this conception, of course, is that culture no longer has readily available empirical references. Rather than being basically observable artifacts, it remains a matter of beliefs and attitudes, of moods and motivations that are difficult to pin down at best in historical changes. Furthermore, much of the emphasis in these theoretical traditions has been placed on the psychological functions of ideology for the individual.

Weber, for example, justifies his discussion of cultural change with psychological arguments. Discussing the relationship between social stratification and religious beliefs, he points out that, for example, the hunger for dignity of the less favored classes is a "psychological condition". He also suggests that the legitimizing beliefs of the privileged classes "are rooted in certain basic psychological patterns". He continues: "Everyday experience shows that there is a great need for psychological comfort" (1978, 491). Or, to take another example, Lukács ([1922] 1971, 50) makes it clear that subjectivity is a crucial aspect of his formulation of class consciousness when he writes: “[Class existence] issubjectiveit is justified in the social and historical situation, as something that can and must be understood, i. h as 'correct'." And then he claims that class consciousness consists of what people "thought, felt, and wanted at all points in history" and that it essentially manifests itself as "people's psychological thoughts about their lives" ( [1922] 1971, 51, italics in original).

Therefore, the search for sources of cultural change is bound to rely heavily on assumptions about psychological processes. Ideas tend, so to speak, to satisfy psychological needs. The actual order in which this bending occurs remains vague, but theorists implicitly assume that individuals' internal processing plays a key role. Weber, for example, when discussing the religions of salvation, points out that, although they may come from privileged classes or be articulated by a charismatic prophet, their nature undergoes a serious change when these ideas reach the less favored. In doing so, he suggests, "religion changes its character." Elsewhere, he describes the changes as a "form of adaptation". How does this change take place? Seemingly in the decisions that autonomous individuals make about beliefs. Consequently, changes occur gradually ("through the most numerous stages of transition"). Individually


Interpretations reflect individual needs, and those needs change the character of individual beliefs, which in turn affects the callings that leaders can articulate.

Such a process is difficult to observe. But even without a formal theoretical justification, it clearly has shortcomings. It treats individuals as autonomous entities rather than recognizing the importance of social interaction between them. It ignores other limitations that can affect the ideas leaders articulate, namely, it focuses too much on public "demand" rather than emphasizing ideological "supply" terms. And it requires the assumption of a perfect fit between individual needs and the content of the worldview, when in fact that fit may be only partial or determined by a multitude of other needs and interests.

3.2. The clarity of explanatory variables

The fact that theories of social change often use psychological explanations implies a tendency in the literature to rely on very general, if not vague, concepts of social change to explain specific manifestations of cultural change. In the cultural adaptation literature, the most general source of cultural change is identified as increasing social complexity. But complexity has a variety of different empirical indicators: population size, population density, occupational diversity, urbanization, cultural heterogeneity, institutional differentiation, technological specialization, etc. In theories of class legitimation, the concept of class is similarly vague. It ranges from different notions of social status in capitalist societies to vague notions of economic processes and very general notions of power, authority, prestige and status. Thus, when trying to explain particular episodes of cultural change, concepts often seem to be invoked on the basis of convenience rather than rigor. Almost all events since the sixteenth century can be explained as a product of increasing social complexity or the dynamics of "bourgeois class formation".

In some formulations of the cultural adaptation model, explanatory logic also illustrates the fallacy of teleological reasoning. It is argued that cultural adjustment is necessary for further social development; The logic of some of the formulations implies that a cultural shift is taking place.yfacilitates development. A variant of this problematic form of argument can be seen in Durkheim's examination of cultural change. Although Durkheim avoids a purely teleological form of functionalist reasoning, he still encounters some difficulties in formulating a causal argument about the causes of cultural change. Durkheim expressly opposes a teleological explanation. He claims that the development of culture is generally seen as socially functional.


but argues that “it is not the services it provides that make it move forward”. He also asserts that it is wrong "to make civilization a function of the division of labor"; instead, he insists that the correct formulation is that civilization is only an "outcome" of the division of labor. But one feels a little lost when one rejects a functionalist argument about how this connection takes place. After arguing that cultural innovations should not be attributed to hereditary factors like genius or innate creativity, he resorts, however, to an essentially physiological explanation of another kind. Increased social complexity gives rise to new insights, he suggests, "why this hyperactivity of ordinary life tires and weakens our nervous system [in a way] that it requires repairs proportionate to its expense, that is, a more varied and complex satisfaction." [1893] 1933, 337). Evidently, avoiding teleological considerations, this formulation is a clear example of the aforementioned tendency towards individualistic and psychological interpretations of cultural change.

Returning to Weber, we find a slightly more sophisticated set of social explanations for cultural change, but unfortunately they remain underdeveloped. Weber emphasizes both the specific role of status groups and the more general effects of economic and political developments on culture. He also identifies two other enablers of cultural change, but never treats them systematically (see Habermas 1984, 217-42): social movements that, as Habermas suggests, "were inspired by traditionalist and more defensive attitudes as well as by modern conceptions of justice". , that is, ideas of bourgeois and later socialist origin" (Habermas 1984, 217); and differentiated institutions aimed at the production of culture. Habermas (1984, 217) somewhat misleadingly calls these "cultural systems of action", but clearly identifies scientific academies, universities, artistic groups and religious bodies as obvious examples.

The picture that emerges of Weber, confusing as it may be, is one of greater theoretical complexity than is generally assumed in the literature on cultural change. Certainly general economic and political developments must be taken into account, but if Weber is right, specific social movements and culture-producing institutions must also be included in an adequate theoretical explanation. Otherwise, explanatory variables are likely to remain poorly specified.

An illustration of this problem can be found in Marx's discussion of the English and French Enlightenment. Marx highlights some particular aspects of the social experience of the two countries in the 18th century and relates them to some Enlightenment artists. But Marx's discussion clearly fails to develop a more systematic or comprehensive view of the relationship between the bourgeoisie and the Enlightenment.


He seems more interested in illustrating certain biases in utilitarian theory than in articulating a theory about the impact of bourgeois class position on Enlightenment culture. What he gives, therefore, is only a general sense of these effects. The best that can be concluded from this is that the rise of the bourgeoisie in England and France was linked to certain economic problems that received special intellectual attention from scholars like Locke and Holbach. What is missing from Marx's argument is any sense of whether the bourgeoisie as such is essential to that argument, or whether it is sufficient simply to point out that commercialization had a general influence on eighteenth-century thought.

In the literature on class legitimacy in general, as Martin Seliger (1977, pp. 151-156) points out, there is considerable ambiguity about the very concept of class as an explanatory variable. This ambiguity revolves around the question of whether class is a conceptual category or a unit of action. Seen as a conceptual category, theorists tend to see it as a collection of individuals, whereas a unit of action is seen as an organized entity in which most of its members are united in a single organization. Both views can be found in Marx and Weber and in more recent authors such as Lukács and Mannheim. Interestingly, however, both conceptions represent only the most extreme possibilities, and consequently many of the intermediate levels of organization (within or across borders), which can also influence ideological change, have been overlooked. This point also has affinity with Weber's underdeveloped arguments about the need to pay more attention to social movements and culture-producing institutions.

3.3. Variations in the speed and timing of cultural change

A close reading of specific claims about cultural change by Marx, Durkheim, Weber or more recent theorists such as Parsons or Mannheim reveals another persistent ambiguity: although certain episodes of notable change in cultural systems, such as the Enlightenment or the rise of socialism, they also evoke theoretical claims that tend to give the impression that cultural change should be seen as gradual, linear, and largely continuous. This last emphasis, in particular, militates against offering satisfactory theoretical explanations for specific variations in the speed and timing of cultural change. If cultural change is merely incremental, then only the broader sources of its general direction may be of interest.

To some extent, this problem arises from ambiguity about the appropriate level of the general public to study cultural change. If culture is understood as the more general patterns or orientations underlying social behavior rather than a specific symbolic expression, then


attention is inevitably drawn to dominant forms rather than to individual episodes of cultural change. It can be interpreted, for example, that Weber identified rationalization as the most general tendency underlying the development of modern culture. Examining the rationalization process, Weber finds it throughout the West: in law, music, economic relations, scientific bureaucracies, museums, the state, religion, and military organization. In the face of this proliferation, it becomes somewhat futile to look for the sources of any of its particular manifestations. One rationalization simply reinforces another.

At this high level of generality, any manifestation of cultural change loses its own meaning. Rather, it becomes meaningful only as an indication that a deeper process is under way. Understanding the origins of a given cultural episode becomes less interesting than interpreting its meaning in relation to a larger pattern. Habermas, for example, when discussing Weber's contribution to the sociology of music, points out that it is less important to know how rational musical structures emerged or became institutionalized than to recognize that this development is a symptom of the increasing differentiation of autonomous cultural structures. . spheres, the growing differentiation of aesthetic and technical areas, and the growing differentiation of theoretical and practical reason (1984, 161-62). This kind of reasoning leads naturally to an interpretive style of social science that seeks to discover the meaning of events rather than to explain their sources. However, such an approach depends primarily on having an a priori conception of dominance trends in modern culture (eg differentiation). With such a concept in mind, the researcher need only find instances of cultural change that seem to fit the general pattern. But the process by which cultural change is actually institutionalized remains unexamined. This trend is related, as I will show later, to a growing divide in the study of cultural change between purely theoretical and more historical or empirical approaches. For the moment, suffice it to say that efforts to relate these general perspectives to specific historical cases, though numerous, have been unsatisfactory. Two examples illustrate this point.

Although (as discussed above) the Enlightenment is often seen as a key example of cultural change occurring in response to changing needs for class legitimacy, one of the most recent and comprehensive studies of the Enlightenment rejects the notion that cultural change occurs in this period. area, the earlier period was decidedly linked in some way to a rising bourgeoisie or its need for class legitimacy. “A new vision of the future was certainly emerging,” the authors state, “but its apostles could be found among nobles and commoners, among the famousphilosophersmost were born during the Enlightenment or bought into the Enlightenment


Nobility, and the first people who tried to put Enlightenment ideas into practice were members of the government, all of whom, except Necker, were nobles” (Behrens 1985, 9). constituted only a small part of eighteenth-century economics, that the nobility and the bourgeoisie were largely indistinguishable as to the sources of their wealth, and that the nobility did not suffer relative or absolute decline, even understanding the theoretical perspective in question can, of course, be questioned, but it has hardly come to this conclusion among historians.

The rise of socialism also provides an example. Of all modern cultural changes, this development seems, ironically perhaps, to have created the most difficult problems of explanation, particularly for the class legitimacy model. These problems can be attributed in part to the fact that some of the theoretical formulations of these traditions are associated with the rise of socialism. But other problems also seem obvious. At the simplest level, models of class legitimation attribute the rise of socialism to the emergence of the proletariat as a new class in need of legitimation. However, more sophisticated versions were not satisfied with this explanation. To defend the importance of socialist ideology as a precursor of proletarian struggle, these arguments took a different stance. Lukács, for example, writes that "nothing has changed in the objective situation" and that only "the point of view from which one judges" has changed ([1922] 1971, 150). This kind of reasoning, of course, undermines the very essence of the class legitimacy model. Because if nothing changes in objective social conditions, how do you explain the change in "point of view"?

3.4. The mechanisms of cultural change

I have suggested in several places that both the cultural adjustment model and the class legitimacy model are less than satisfactory for specifying the actual process by which broad social changes lead to specific episodes of cultural change. Because many of the more general formulations are primarily concerned with broad evolutionary trends, they specify a general relationship between increasing social complexity or increasing economic power and ideas, but do not explain the intermediate processes by which these changes affect culture. In that sense, these approaches serve as models for macro-level comparisons, rather than models of actual change processes. With these macro-level approaches, it is possible to generate hypotheses based on static cross-sectional comparisons of societies at different levels of complexity or development, or on comparisons of a single society.


society in two or more distant periods. But how changes in complexity or development actually lead to cultural changes is likely to remain undetermined.

Symptomatic of the lack of specificity about the social mechanisms involved is the aforementioned tendency of these approaches to resort to explanations based on assumptions about individual psychology. But even when it comes to psychological processes, these processes cannot replace a more explicit consideration of the conditions under which they occur. In particular, Marxist theory emphasizes the fact that individuation, and therefore individual psychology itself, depends on the nature of the production process. If it is admitted that the change of ideology is mainly due to changes in individual experience, this experience is nevertheless a product of certain social conditions. The individual experience takes place in conditions in which market relations and "the principle of rational mechanization and guilt" permeate society to the point where the "atomized individual" emerges. It also tends to be limited to those aspects of ideology that concern an individual's self-perception as a commodity determined by others (Lukács [1922] 1971, 83-92). Within this formulation of the class legitimacy model, individual experience can only partially explain cultural change. To the extent that market relations remain incomplete (that is, subject to non-contractual constraints) and to the extent that individuals function in collective environments rather than being completely atomized, other factors shape ideology. In short, the subjective, experiential determination of ideology works only under extremely limited conditions, in the same sense that classical economics assumes that economistic behavior keeps "all other things equal". Thus, according to this version of class legitimacy theory, social mechanisms other than direct individual experience must be considered to explain actual historical episodes of cultural change.

The alternative to identifying psychological states as intermediate mechanisms linking social change and cultural change is to posit a simple mechanistic link. This kind of connection is particularly evident at the more macroscopic levels of analysis, which focus on broad patterns of social evolution. These analyzes simply assert that one type of change leads to another; they don't even ask how those changes will be affected. Some of the functionalist images I cited earlier failed in this regard. A deterministic visual language is also recognizable in some of the formulations. For example, Durkheim is particularly stubborn about the deterministic connection between social change and cultural development. "Civilization," he asserts, "is the necessary consequence of changes wrought in the scale and density of societies." Him


He goes on to say that the development of science and art is brought about by "an imposed necessity". The progress of modern culture must therefore not be attributed to the values ​​or desires of individuals. Nor should it be understood in terms of attractiveness or as something people strive for. Rather, culture is driven by society's increasing size, density, and diversity: "It thrives because it cannot fail" ([1893] 1933, 336).

Recent debates have, of course, questioned this extreme form of sociological determinism and argued for the value of seeing a dialectical relationship between social and cultural change. Therborn (1980), for example, advocated not only a dialectical view, but also one that pays more attention to process and competition. In the emphasis process, Therborn emphasizes that ideologies evolve over time in interaction with social conditions. By emphasizing competition (between different ideologies), you also want to emphasize the fact that the outcomes of these interactions are, to some extent, indeterminate. Rather than imagining a direct ideological outcome associated with increased social complexity or a shift in class relations, he prefers to consider the specific situations that offer space for the development of new ideologies, how these ideologies influence each other, and what the outcome might be. Final . be a specific order of action. Therborn's approach, therefore, inevitably leads to greater consideration of the actual processes and more immediate conditions that link broad social changes to specific episodes of cultural innovation.

3.5. The separation between theory and history.

As a final critical remark, I note that both the literature on cultural adaptation and the literature on class legitimacy have shown an increasing tendency to bifurcate between theoretical specification on the one hand and historical analysis on the other. Indeed, much of the interest in cultural change among sociological theorists seems to have turned to abstract, normative or reconstructive models, which in some discussions are seen as explicitly unrelated to historical analysis. Various reconstructive formulations of cultural evolution have emerged from the cultural adaptation tradition, and the literature on class legitimacy has produced a growing body of philosophical and epistemological specifics, particularly in the Marxist and neo-Marxist traditions. Studies of concrete historical episodes of cultural change have not entirely abandoned the assumptions of these broader traditions, but have increasingly expressed dissatisfaction with them and worked from a more ad hoc, inductive or deconstructive perspective.


Both trends – towards asking theoretical questions and towards more inductive historical approaches – likely reflect the growing awareness in epistemological thinking of the hermeneutical circle in which the social analyst is caught. However, the two variants of science tend to develop more separately. Indeed, some of the more philosophical discussions have practically reached a dead end. Already half a century ago we find Lukács categorically stating that "it is not possible to arrive at an understanding of certain [historical] forms by examining their successive occurrences empirically and historically" ([1922] 1971, 186). . Therefore, for Lukács, science can only advance by building a purely universalistic philosophical model of evolutionary materialism; In short, historical studies had nothing to contribute. Among more recent theorists, Habermas, Therborn, and Seliger have made different versions of this argument.

The relevance of this king's argument to empirically oriented studies of cultural change is both positive and negative. On the positive side, it underscores the fact that any such investigation is inevitably guided by broad assumptions and questions inherent in the investigator's historical view. Certainly, much of the appeal of models of cultural adaptation and class legitimacy rests more on the nature of their assumptions than just their explanatory value. Philosophical criticism merely emphasizes the importance of acknowledging these assumptions more explicitly. On the negative side, the rising tide that philosophical debate has drawn inevitably casts a long shadow over the valley into which empirical study has been relegated.

For an institutional approach

Criticisms of dominant traditions aside, some of my comments point in a direction that could be seen as a common direction for a renaissance in the empirical study of cultural change. In particular, some of my arguments point to multifactorial rather than noncausal explanations of cultural change and emphasize the importance of considering the specific contexts, processes, and mechanisms that translate broad social changes into concrete episodes of innovative cultural production. In the remaining space it is not possible to fully follow these suggestions. However, I can suggest some directions this discussion could take.

As a starting point, we must recognize that there has been considerable rethinking of the basic concept of "culture" since models of cultural fit and class legitimacy came to the fore.


Rather than seeing culture primarily as a subjective collection of beliefs, values, or orientations, current treatments of this concept increasingly focus on the observable features of culture, i.e. speeches and other types of symbolic acts. Once culture is understood in this way, it becomes clearer that the study of culture must pay attention to speakers and audiences, to discursive texts, to rituals in which discourse is embedded, and to the social contexts in which it is embedded. As something not just subjectively asserted but collectively produced, culture is clearly dependent on social resources, and the availability and distribution of these resources is likely to play an important role in influencing the direction of cultural change. Even more than before, cultural change requires an approach that focuses on the institutional contexts in which it is produced, enacted, disseminated and transformed.

This cultural change does not arise simply as a consequence of the differential pressures of social experience on individuals, but as a product of culture-producing organizations it has been dismissed in the literature on cultural adaptation and class legitimacy in general. But it was not entirely forgotten. In Marx there are stimulating passages that point to this conception of culture. writing inCommunist manifestoMarx and Engels add on the creation of a world market for economic goods ([1848] 1967, 84): “As in material production, so in intellectual production. The intellectual creations of individual nations become common property. One-sidedness and national narrowness become more and more impossible, and a world literature emerges from the numerous national and local literatures." They also compare cultural production with material production in their discussion of the problem of oversupply in advanced capitalism . , noting that there is “too much civilization, too much subsistence, too much industry.” You also speak of cultural change in this vein, asking rhetorically: “What else does the history of ideas prove but that intellectual production changes its character when it materializes? changes in production? ([1848] 1967, 102).

But if culture is produced and cultural production requires social resources, then we must ask ourselves about the range of variables that may be relevant to understanding changes in the form and content of that product. For heuristic purposes, it can be useful to separate these variables into three categories: the institutional contexts in which culture is produced, the broader environmental conditions that affect the types of social resources available to these institutions, and the specific sequences of action within those institutions. contexts. institutional contexts. through which culture emerges.

Institutional contexts serve as the immediate environments in which culture is produced. Of particular relevance are the functions performed by the Director


Cultural producers, their relationships with other producers (both peers and competitors) and the nature of their contact with relevant audiences. In addition to these actors' immediate interests and experiences, their relationships with broader groups of organisations, coalitions and interest groups are likely to be important as well. As resources are critical to the production of any cultural activity, cultural producers' relationships with the state, business elites and other cultural authorities are likely to be particularly important.

The broader social environment summarizes many of the variables identified in the traditional literature -social complexity, rates of economic growth, distribution of power across social classes, etc.- but is particularly concerned with the types of resources that can influence institutional settings . , in which cultural activities take place. Rather than postulating that these variables have a direct and immediate impact on culture, the institutional perspective envisages a mediated form of impact channeled through the institutional contexts in which cultural production takes place.

Finally, the idea of ​​“sequences of action” underlines that cultural production is also a process within institutional contexts. Issues encountered in examining this process include questions about agency, creators' activities, their responses to crises and other eventualities, and the ways in which their responses are constrained by the institutional structures in which these reactions take place. By taking issues of cultural change to this level of specification, investigations can also point to how different ideological formulations compete with each other, how social relations are embedded in the "texts" produced, and how these texts are reflected in social interaction.

An institutional approach of this kind implies a lot of ambiguity in identifying the general factors that drive cultural change. However, this imprecision seems to do more justice to the historical record than to the concise theoretical formulations with which sociologists have worked in the past. Instead, models of cultural assimilation and class legitimacy suffer from ambiguity because their simplest formulations overstep the bounds of credibility. In contrast, combinations of institutional, environmental, and action variables leave room for a considerable variety of factors that cause cultural change at different times and in different places.

Of course, to suggest that theories of cultural change are moving towards more flexible and multifaceted models is not a radical departure from the empirical work that has been going on for some time. It just confirms what the most insightful of these studies have already begun to show.



Behrens, CBA 1985.Society, government and enlightenment: the experiences of France and Prussia in the 18th century. Nova York: Harper and Row.

Bellah, Robert N. 1970.Amazing. Nova York: Harper and Row.

Durkheim, Emil. [1893] 1933.The division of labor in society. Nova York: Free Press.

Habermas, Jurgen. 1979Communication and the evolution of society. Boston: Beacon Press.

Habermas, Jurgen. 1984the theory of communicative action. vol. 1,Reason and rationalization of society. Trans. Thomas McCarthy. Boston: Beacon Press.

Luhmann, Niklas. one thousand nine hundred and eighty-two.The differentiation of society.. Nova York: Columbia University Press.

Luke, George. [1922] 1971History and Class Consciousness: Studies in Marxist Dialectics. Cambridge: MIT Press.

Marx, Karl e Friedrich Engels. [1846] 1947.german ideology. Nova York: International Publishers.

Marx, Karl e Friedrich Engels. [1848] 1967.The Communist Manifesto. Baltimore: Pinguin.

Parsons, Talcott. 1971.Societies: Evolutionary and Comparative Perspectives. Englewood Cliffs, Nova Jersey: Prentice-Hall.

Sahlins, Marshall D. 1960.development and culture. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.

Seliger, Martin. 1977.The Marxist conception of ideology: a critical essay.. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Therborn, Goran. 1980.The ideology of power and the power of ideology. London: ca.

Weber, max. 1978.economy and society. Ed. 2 vols. Gunther Roth e Claus Wittich. Berkeley: University of California Press.



The direction of evolution

Niklas Luhmann

From its beginnings in the eighteenth century, thinking about social and cultural evolution has taken two forms. On the one hand, it became a more or less elaborate scientific theory, reflecting the scientific and theoretical demands of the time. On the other hand, it served society as a whole for self-description. This last form must be developed through social communication within society, of which observers are a part. In other words, the social sciences try to look at society from the inside and the outside, but their descriptions are inevitably part of society and the objects described are always changing. It is not about objective knowledge versus subjective knowledge; rather, it is a question of whether social science is capable of reflecting on its own position.[1]describing how it contributes to society's self-description.

During the 18th and 19th centuries, such self-descriptions were inspired by the images of Newtonian science. The academic study of social problems was stimulated by their perceived relevance to understanding civilization, economic societies, and modern states. Although cognitive theory was preoccupied with the question of its own "conditions of possibility", this did not prevent the development of a growing confidence in science. After the second half of the 18th century, at least in Germany, history also evolved from a traditional narrative to a scientific model.

This new history of science broke radically with previous traditions and gave new meanings to terms such as development, evolution, and history itself (cf. Koselleck 1975). In the context of past aristocratic societies, histories reflected the needs and interests of dominant groups. They were stories told to instruct the crown prince or the king himself.

[1] A "third position" as defined by Bråten 1986.


They were stories of heroes and villains, kings and military leaders, their wives and daughters and their advisers. They were interaction stories within a destiny framework. And they pointed out the religious meaning of the world. The dominant distinction was between virtue and self-control, on the one hand, and fate, on the other, that is, between the internal and external causes of events. Only events and actions were considered mutable within a world of stable essences, types, and forms.[2]The terms mutation, change, and alternation refer to this level of events, not levels of structure, time, or eternity. As for the form of narration, it was necessary to distinguish between history and poetry, that is, between real narration and fictional narrative, which fulfilled rhetorical and educational functions.

All this disappeared in the second half of the 18th century. The histories of interaction were replaced by the history of society,company history,as Bonald would have.[3]Destiny was no longer outside of history, but inside it. The story turned fatalistic, or at least observers questioned how much deliberate action mattered.nohistory (but certainly notehistoria) (cf. Hoeges 1984).

My hypothesis in this chapter is that the shift from interaction stories to social stories reflects a radical transformation in social structure. The social system itself shifts its primary mode of differentiation from a hierarchical to a horizontal or functional order (cf. Luhmann 1982, 229-54).

The primary subsystems of society are no longer based on strata but on functions. The social order is now maintained by well-functioning politics, scientific research, economic provision for the future, family formation, public education, etc., and no longer by living up to one's inherited position in society. This does not mean that stratification has disappeared, but rather that it loses its legitimacy. Stratification is no longer the social order per se, but a consequence of the way in which the social order is reproduced, namely through the rational functioning of the economic and educational systems. Inequality is no longer attributed simply to the different characteristics of the people who live in God's creation. For eighteenth-century writers, inequality became a problem of "civilization" (as opposed to "nature"). Inequality was not created by God. Rather, it was an unfortunate necessity of civilized social life -Whether by government or by rule,as Gundling says – anticipating the need to distinguish between violence and property, orstate and society

[2] Crucé asserts the common opinion of his time: "Acts and events are new in their individuality, but species have always been as they are now" ([1623] 1909, 285).

[3] "Only in the totality or generality of the facts can the history of society be studied" (Bonald [1858] 1982, 91).


(Gündling 1736, 40).[4]Nineteenth-century writers adapted society's self-description with the concept of "class society" to this new situation.[5]and its eventual projection of a classless society (albeit within the limitations of the division of labor).

The replacement of stratification by functional differentiation implies a radical break that completely alters the foundations on which the social order is built. People in a system undergoing such a transition cannot observe or describe that transition. You may perceive it as a catastrophe or possibly lead to a utopian future. For Bayle and Voltaire, like everyone else who participated in the Enlightenment, their perspective on history had already changed. History became the prehistory of reason, the prehistory of opinions (including religious opinions) that would not stand the test of reason. A few decades later, history is perceived as a crisis. Herder, for example, explicitly said that his interest in a new concept of history was a reaction to what he called the crisis of the human spirit.[6]Occasionally one has to live for a while in a society that cannot easily be described. Because society's descriptions vary so widely, it soon becomes clear that all descriptions are biased or serve latent interests or functions. At the level of "second-order observations", that is, observations on observations, the sense of reality falters. Essence and reality – the old mancosmos– are replaced by ideology, that is, by descriptions of what others fail to observe.

1. Temporary Company Descriptions

These schematic reflections are a prelude to my main theme. I would like to point out that in a situation marked by the decline of belief in stratification, the decline of the essence of being (in the sense of essential, that is, the being that explains what being is) and questioned descriptions of reality, time is a dimension it becomes. It is important to describe society in terms of the past and the future, in terms of "no longer" and "not yet". The present ceases to be seen as a mediator of "time" (Tempo) of human life with eternity. Agora is the terra incognita between the past and the future, promoting the paradox of the simultaneous presence of the no more and the not yet.[7]

There has been a long debate in Christian cosmology about whether time tends to decay followed by final redemption. But that

[4] Moving away from the idea that the unequal distribution of power and property is a reflection of God's will, see also Koehler [1735] n.d.; Burlamaqui 1747.

[5] For the semantics of "social classes", see Luhmann 1985.

[6] "Nobody in the world feelsthe weakness of the general characterizationmore than I" (Herder [1774] 1967, 36, emphasis in original).

[7] For the persistent semantic problems of "gift", see Oesterle 1985.


The debate was related to the level ofclimate,of the passage of time, of human life, not of eternity. At the end of the 18th century, the similar theme of the direction of time acquired a completely different meaning. Observers used them to bridge the ontological gap of a present that was between an obsolete past and an unknown future. What gave meaning to the present was no longer eternity with its meaning for life after death, but the direction of time. In modern times, there is no other level of temporal order than the fluid concept of time that connects past, present and future. This new one-dimensionality of time eliminates simple explanations related to the multiplicity of times (as opposed to eternity).[8]Time no longer exists outside of history. The direction of time is the direction of history, and the 19th century concluded that there are no ethical principles, forms of knowledge, or natural laws outside of history.

Furthermore, we can temporalize this temporal description of modern society. It is itself the result of historical alterations that only occurred in the second half of the 18th century.[9]Time becomes historical because each present constitutes its own past and future, and history itself is the movement of the present over the difference between past and future states, so that new pasts and futures emerge. Thethe spirit of the age(Herder [1774] 1967) is situated historically, looks to the past and to the future. As historians have known since the 18th century, history must now be rewritten for each generation. But how? Arbitrarily or according to national interest and political wisdom?

Historians have methodically wrestled with these questions in depth, trying not to be completely relativistic. But this is not the point. Much time has passed since the beginning of the historicization of history, and the structuralism of ideas about time is now recognizable. If we go back three hundred years, we can distinguish at least three different periods. In each period, observers conceptualized modern society in temporal terms. However, the importance of the direction of development changes from period to period. Each period is characterized by a different semantics of social self-description, and the change in this semantics follows a certain pattern: as soon as the new consequences of functional differentiation become visible, the self-description of modern society has to change. While the new self-description does not allow for a glimpse into the future, except in generally optimistic or pessimistic terms, it does require continual adjustment of descriptions to realities that must be accepted as characteristic.

[8] The variety of times must explain why medicines that used to be helpful no longer help (Malvezzi 1635, 148).

[9] See Koselleck 1979. See also my essays "The Future Cannot Begin" and "World Time and System History" in Luhmann 1982.


of modern society. I hesitate to use Hegelian terminology about the self-revealing character of society because of its "end of history" theoretical premises and conclusions. But at least awareness of the structural consequences of the modern social system has grown over the past two centuries, and new insights must flow into attempts to describe society again and again.

Different ways of describing modern society in temporal terms naturally produce different perspectives on the past and the future. They encourage different reflections on history within the horizons of history and time. History becomes the main mechanism for collecting information about the new society. That's why the "social story" replaced the traditional "interaction story". The term "new" and its derivations (eg.modern times) takes on a new meaning.[10]Now different ways of thinking about the direction of history become possible.

The question of what constitutes the unifying tendency of the history of a given period, linking past and future through an internal direction, leads us to see how the self-descriptions of modern society adapt to new experiences. We can distinguish three different ways of connecting different phases, stages or epochs of social history. The first uses the idea of ​​progress. The second describes history structurally as increasing differentiation and complexity. The third describes history, and in particular evolution, as increasing improbability, perhaps considering the concept of thermodynamic "negentropy", that is, negative entropy, or the notion of the increasing artificiality of social institutions, which are the solutions to problems that are consequences of earlier solutions to earlier problems. To some extent, these three types of understanding represent different expressions of the same idea. My hypothesis, however, is that since the late 19th century the emphasis has shifted from progress to differentiation and complexity, and thence to improbability. These semantic shifts reflect a growing awareness of problems with the structures of modern society. The sequence of semantic "discourses" from progress to differentiation and from complexity to improbability does not simply reflect a shift in the history of ideas. Rather, it has its roots in processes of industrialization and technological development, political democratization, and the provision of mass education in schools. Furthermore, this semantic sequence corresponds to the slow process of discovering the contours of modern life.

The idea of ​​progress wasmain direction, main guidein the second half of the seventeenth century. Initially, however, the term "progress" was used

[10] In Medieval Latinnovosimply meant "deviant" and even in 17th century Frenchnovoit was a notion of something improper in religious and political matters, in the sense of deviating from the accepted order. See Spörl 1930; friend 1957; Koseck 1979.


and it referred only to the arts and sciences, not to society as a whole. It was not until the 18th century that progress became a term used primarily in the singular, referring to a generalized set of objects such as economy, science, civilization (man) and commercial society. The main reason for this change seems to have been a new discourse that attributed progress to the economic system, more specifically to political economy. In other words, the semantic change was caused by the differentiation of the economy as a functional subsystem. However, this semantic shift could not describe the functional differentiation of society as a comprehensive system. No term (apart from "humanity") was available to describe the change in the entire social system. Instead, the very concept of society has changed from a political and legal to an economic one. During the second half of the 18th century, the term "society" acquired connotations of exchange and commerce (including thesweet tradeof social relations) and eventually became a term for the system of needs and need satisfaction, property, money, and work. Society was now identified with the economic system as opposed to the state, which was identified with the political system.

As progress was noted within the framework of society in the new economic sense, the meaning of the term, particularly in French writings, became ambivalent. The Marquis de Mirabeau, to give an example, speaks of "Deteriorations that necessarily result from the progress of our possible improvement.."[11]Progress became a double-edged blessing and civilization (as opposed to nature) an ambivalent concept. These developments paved the way for the ideological struggles of the 19th century. Progress remained a promising idea for about a hundred years, but the ways to get there (and therefore society's self-image) were judged differently based on political and ideological preferences.

As the idea of ​​progress was now controversial, the young discipline of sociology had to look for other foundations. For a time "differentiation" became the substitute term (Simmel 1890; Durkheim [1893] 1930). This idea had many advantages. It could explain the phenomenon of individualism, that is, the increasing emphasis on human individuality in the course of the increasing division of labor and the differentiation of roles. It could also explain cultural developments by assuming a correlation between structural differentiation and symbolic generalizations. And according to Darwin, differentiation could be understood as a necessary result of social evolution. Darwin had explained the vast differentiation of species through one or, eventually, a few simple mechanisms.

[11] See LDH [The friend of men] [Victor de Riqueti, Marquis de Mirabeau] 1774, xxi. See also Faucet: Human perfection is "as fertile in evil as in good" and society produces "more good and more evil" in comparison with nature (1766, 1:75ff.).


In the long term, the complexity of the phenomenal world could be reduced to a genetic principle: natural selection. Historical "guesswork" and "doubtful periodizations" were no longer necessary and were, in fact, artificial assumptions. From a "scientific" base, the new theory of evolution combined genetic simplicity with phenomenal complexity. It was no longer necessary to identify fundamental facts (such as the invention of artillery or the printing press, the discovery of America or revolutions) in order to articulate the course of time. The identification of crucial events was replaced by the concept of evolution,[12]a mechanism that generates increasing differentiation and complexity.

If this replacement was the starting point of sociology and the starting point for the hitherto unprecedented theoretical performance of its classics, the general public was not prepared for this type of theory. Unable to control the mass media, sociology can influence but not control society's self-description (Heintz 1982). A curious new mix of hopes for progress called social Darwinism was prepared for the general public by sociologists in the last decades of the nineteenth century, but was soon replaced by a new emphasis on social values ​​(Hofstadter 1945; Francis 1981). Looking back on this period, we find sociology more on the social side of the struggle (Ross 1907).[13]We also find arguments about accepting or rejecting the idea of ​​social evolution and arguments about whether structure or process should serve as a guide for theory formation. However, sociology's level of theoretical development was still too low to resolve these issues, much less to impress the general public with new ideas. Within the social sciences, evolution was conceptualized then, as now, as a theory of phases or periods of development.[14]

During this time, which did not end until after World War II, the prerequisites for social self-description were relatively rigidly defined. The consequences of the industrial revolution so fascinated contemporaries that theories were only considered useful if they had a direct connection with the so-called social question. The concern with the social issue reflected the general malaise about class structures, working conditions, technological advances, assistance and social security problems and, above all, the disappearance of a whole range of traditional structures and attitudes. Weber and Durkheim focused their intellectual energies on the metatheoretical virtues of objectivity,

[12] This was at least true of sociologists at the time, who then overemphasized "structure" in response to overemphasis on "process" and vice versa. However, historians continued to ponder periodization issues for a while. See Faber and Meier 1978; Gumbrecht and Link-Heer 1985.

[13] This book is a strange mixture of condemnation of public opinion and hopes of influencing it.

[14] Complaints about such conceptualization are very recent. See Bleeding 1979.


Control methods, causal explanation and worthless research. And they were quite successful in founding a specific academic discipline, which is sociology. But there was also a strong demand for a social self-image that would take a stand on political issues, define situations, master difficult and unknown aspects of modern life, and find a remedy. In this sense, it became increasingly difficult to maintain the idea of ​​a course in history. The consequences of social evolution, differentiation and complexity were still widely discussed, but this discussion did not take place under the heading of progress, but under the heading of obstacles to planning and social control.

The social picture finally changed in the 1960s. It was at this time that it became clear to a wider audience that systems differentiation theory did not have enough conceptual space to accommodate all the negative statements about modern society that I wanted to make. Nobody bothered to refute Parsons. It has simply become obsolete as a theorist focused on functional differentiation of the action system. For a while, "complexity" became a conservative topos (and particularly a right-wing topos in left-wing parties).[quince]In search of a better theory, many scholars looked to the "cheeky teenage years" (c. 1850-80) of the social sciences and, in particular, to Karl Marx.

However, this interest in outdated theories did not last long. It disappeared due to a noticeable shift in society's self-describing interests. New ecological issues, fears about the future, daily news about technological advances and disasters attract people's attention. Inequalities in economic distribution exist, but the risk inherent in the day-to-day operation of the economic system seems more relevant from a conjunctural perspective of the daily production of information. Examples of these risks are the international credit system, fluctuating cash flows (sometimes hundreds of billions of dollars a day), unemployment, the destructive effects of free trade on the local economy, and the destructive effects of trade barriers. . economy. New areas of scientific inquiry, such as nuclear physics and biogenetics, offer great prospects and terrifying fears. "Guidance"[sixteen]is the vain demand of the day. Symptomatic of public embarrassment, ethics committees are called upon to pretend they have the situation under control. Sociology reacted to this with more or less non-theoretical discussions of the fashionable terms post-industrialism or postmodernism and tried to catch up with social movements or carry on as before, i.

[15] For recent discussions in this regard, see LaPorte 1975; Lanzara and Pardi 1980; United Nations University 1985; Bochi and Ceruti 1985.

[16] For the history of the meaning of this word, see Lübbe et al. one thousand nine hundred and eighty-two


conduct empirical research. Does this mean that we have lost all orientation in social history? It seems that the temporary self-descriptions of modern society and its increasing complexity only leave us with the certainty of the uncertainty of the future.

2. Evolution and improbability

A quick look at the broader context of scientific developments and interdisciplinary discussions does not confirm this hopeless conclusion. On the contrary, we can easily find many theoretical attempts to give a new meaning to evolution. They provide the conceptual space for describing modern society as a highly selective set of unusual achievements. We can characterize this state of modern society by its evolutionary improbability.

As an introduction to this idea, consider the following example or "paradigm". We can say that an organism that requires a constant internal temperature, even when the temperature of its environment changes, is in a less likely state than an organism that adapts its own temperature to fluctuations in its environment. Organisms in a state of greater improbability may allow for other differences between the system and its environment. Such a distinction is not sharp; It can develop gradually. But once body temperature and blood flow are adequate, other unlikely states can develop and stabilize. This means that more and more variables can be controlled by the system in relation to its environment. The "matching range," to use a term coined by Herbert Spencer, is growing. As the complexity of the respective environment increases, new forms of complexity arise within the system.

Biologists often describe the incredible stability of life on Earth as a statistical improbability. The only controversy is whether this stability is explained by adaptive capacity or withdrawal capacity (Roth 1986). The evolution of society can also be conceptualized in these terms. Evolution accumulates improbabilities and leads to results that could not have been produced by planning and design. What is decisive, however, is that the improbabilities, once achieved, are retained in the form of highly structured complexity. Complexity implies a highly selective arrangement of elements (cf. Luhmann 1984, 45ff.). It preserves the possibilities of other combinations that go unnoticed in its morphogenesis. Complexity is based on displacement or inhibition.[17]y

[17] Barel appropriately characterizes inhibition as "potentiation," the mode of pure possibility, which nevertheless must be used when circumstances change (1979, 185ff.).


recognizes unused combinatorial possibilities as limited potentials for structural change.

From an information theory point of view, structured complexity contains information in the sense of a choice between possible states and redundancy in the sense of connections between different options. So it's not entirely arbitrary to expect certain items when you have information about others. Information is a measure of improbability and redundancy is a measure of probability (Atlan 1979). Concrete systems are always mixtures of probabilities and improbabilities. However, if we add the genetic perspective and, from entropy, describe the system in terms of its probability here and now, it becomes extremely improbable.[18]

Of course, this improbability is a matter of observation and description. Everything we observe and describe has the following properties: it is what it is; it is neither probable nor improbable; it is neither necessary nor possible; it is no different than it might have been; and has no past or future. These modifications are observational and descriptive tools. Thus, they depend on the ability of systems to observe and describe, to use negation and distinction, and to project unity into what they perceive as highly complex. For our purposes, however, these epistemological reservations do not matter, because we are talking about the self-description of modern society, which is a description anyway. A society cannot know what it is. You can only know what you are describing and why you prefer certain descriptions to others. But do we really describe our society in terms of evolutionary improbability, and if so, why?

First, I list some indicators of such a change in the description.

1. Immanuel Kant proposed the elaboration of a new kind of metaphysics based on a new kind of question, namely, "How isxpossible” (Kant 1783, preface). The new metaphysics did not develop, but the question remained influential. no one doubts itX andpossible. The questionWhat,then it refers to the improbability of perfectly normal and accepted facts. For example, if one refers to Hobbes' problem of order, the question is "How is social order possible?" (Parsons 1949, 87ff.; see also O'Neill 1976; Luhmann 1981). This questioning tends to shift the problem from the rational to the empirical.

[18] This can easily be shown using an Eigen 1985 calculation. A gene 1000 symbols long (a normal length) contains about 10600possible recombination. They say the age of the universe is 1018seconds. The conclusion seems obvious: the evolution of the universe increases its own improbability. In that sense, it is an unrepeatable historical entity.


Reasons. Habermas, in particular, is opposed to such a change. For our purposes, however, the interesting fact is the disjunction betweenayWhat,the distinction between the normal world as we take it for granted and the improbability of its current state. As a very recent consequence of this disjunction, modern cognitive science has tended to turn "what" questions into "how" questions.

2. The famous distinction between entropy and negentropy stimulated interest in improbability and probability. However, the first distinction is not identical with the second because the first presupposes an observer "in the middle". In the direction of entropy, the observer sees the probability of the improbability of a uniform distribution of indistinguishable entities. In the direction of negentropy, the viewer sees the reduced possibility of randomness in the social order. In both directions, the viewer must use a paradoxical observation technique.[19]Otherwise, the observer cannot use what physicists present as an "objective" distinction based on the laws of thermodynamics.

3. Recently, the meaning of "noise" has changed. It is no longer a technical problem that involves interrupting the transmission of information and is solved by redundancy. Noise is now a necessary condition for the emergence of order (von Foerster 1960; Atlan 1972).

4. A similar update happened with "Randomness". It is only since the 20th century that we have tried to produce randomness, whether in mathematics or art (Brok 1967). This seems to indicate that, for whatever reason, we need to access random as a position to view the order. And because the world is in an ordered state, we use sophisticated techniques to create the counterfactual state of randomness. Simple accidents are not enough. They are not random enough.

5. At the beginning of this century, observers generally assumed that an evolutionary development that violated the second law of thermodynamics required a nonphysical, ie teleological, explanation. Today, this problem seems to have been solved by theories of nonequilibrium thermal processes. As far as teleological explanations are concerned, one must agree with Warren McCulloch's dictum: "The circuit must be closed to serve a purpose" (1965, 41).

[19] With a more rigorous interpretation, we could also say that the cosmology of entropy and negentropyexcludesthe observer who estimates probabilities andcontainsthe observer as a physical, chemical, biological, psychological and social being at the same time.


6. Although throughout history the elements of nature have been considered stable and changeable only by divine intervention, our century has reversed that opinion. Ilya Prigogine considers the discovery that elementary particles are generally unstable "one of the most extraordinary discoveries of this century" (1981, 42). To support this point, he refers to a talk by Steven Weinberg entitled "The End of Everything."

Observing observers using the six tools just discussed, we can deduce a common tendency to view natural and social events as highly unlikely. This approach doesn't drastically undermine our confidence in everyday expectations, but it does add the new dimension of observing what others don't: the improbability of the basis of your observations.

However, such a formula remains paradoxical: we observe observers who do not know that they do not know that they are observing improbable probabilities. Although it is a paradox, it can be a creative paradox that suggests "unfolding" strategies that can lead to theoretical advances.[20]The advantage of these instructions for "observation systems"[21]is that it draws attention to time and history, using the asymmetry of time to resolve this paradox.

In this sense, terms like "greater improbability" connote a temporary description of natural or social states. The notion of evolutionary improbabilities refers to the dimension of time. He points out that it takes time to build systems that take care of themselves as they evolve. The arrow of time, therefore, points from more probable (easily generated) states to less probable states that feed on previous developments. This description of the direction of time includes progress in the sense that we may or may not want to live in, maintain, and develop the unlikely states we find ourselves in. This description also includes the ideas of differentiation and complexity in terms of the modern type of differentiation, namely functional differentiation, it is a highly improbable state with more negative aspects than segmentation or stratification. The new temporal description framework encompasses the old ones. Furthermore, it revalues ​​them and offers conceptual space to incorporate real feelings of uncertainty and risk, distrust of optimization strategies and good intentions, and the inevitable alienation.

[20] An overview of research on this issue of "creative paradoxes" in Krippendorf 1984.

[21] I quote the intentionally ambiguous statement by Heinz von Foerster (1981).



ATLAN, Henry. 1972. Noise as a self-organizing principle.Communication18: 21–36.

ATLAN, Heinrich. 1979.between glass and smoke. Paris: Threshold.

Fass, Yves, 1979.The paradox and the system: an essay on social fantasy. Grenoble: University Press.

Bleed, Marion. 1979. Sociocultural Evolutionism: An Unproven Theory.behavioral research24: 46–59.

Bocchi, Gianluca and Mauro Ceruti, Hrsg. 1985.The challenge of complexity. Mailand: Feltrinelli.

BONALD, Louis de. [1858] 1982. On the path of historiography. At thecompleted work,78-112. print. Gin: Nice.

Pedra Assada 1986. The Third Position: Beyond Artificial and Autopoietic Reduction. At theSocio-cybernetic paradoxes: observation, control and evolution of self-regulation systems,edition Felix Geyer and Johannes van der Zouwen, 193–205. London: Sage.

Brok, Alfred M. 1967. Randomness and the Twentieth of antioquia27: 30–61.

Burlamaqui, JJ 1747.principles of natural law. Genf: Barrillot.

I crossed, Emeric. [1623] 1909.the new cinema. Reprinted, with English translation by Thomas W. Balch. Philadelphia: Allen, Lane and Scott.

Durkheim, Emil. [1893] 1930.From the field of social service. Paris: University Press.

Guys, Manfred. 1985. Homunculus in the Age of Biotechnology: Physicochemical foundations of life processes. At thespiritual foundations of medicine,Edition by Rudolf Gross, 9–41. Berlin: Springer.

Faber, Karl Georg and Christian Meier, editors 1978.historical processes. Munich: German paperback publisher.

Foerster, Heinz v. 1960. On self-organizing systems and their environments. At theself-organizing systems,Edited by Marshall C. Yovits and Scott Cameron, 31–50. London: Pergamon Press.

Foerster, Heinz von. 1981observation systems. Seaside, Califórnia: Intersystems Publications.

Francis, Emerich K. 1981. Darwin's Theory of Evolution and Social Darwinism.Cologne Journal of Sociology and Social Psychology33: 209–28.

friend Walter. 1957Modernus and other conceptions of time in the Middle Ages. Cologne: Bohlau.

Gumbrecht, Hans-Ulrich and Ursula Link-Heer, eds. 1985Epoch thresholds and epoch structures in the discourse of literature and the history of language. Frankfurt: Suhrkamp.

Gundling, Nicolás Jeronimo. 1736.The law of nature and nations. 3rd edition Halle Magdeburg: Renger.

HEINZ, Peter. one thousand nine hundred and eighty-two.World society reflected in events. Diessenhofen, Suiza: Rügger.

Herder, Johann Gottlieb. [1774] 1967.Also a philosophy of history for the education of mankind.. Frankfurt: Suhrkamp.


Hoeges, Dirk. 1984. The Forgotten Remnant: Tocqueville, Chateaubriand and the Change of Subject in French Historiography.Historical Magazine238: 287–310.

Hofstadter, Richard. 1945.Social Darwinism in American Thought, 1860-1915. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.

Kant, Emmanuel. [1783] 1893.Prolegomena for all future metaphysics,Ed. IH von Kirchmann. 3rd edition Leipzig: Dürr.

Kohler, Heinrich. [1735] FACELaw of Nature...Exercises. 2nd Edition Jena: Gentlemen.

Koselleck, Reinhart. 1975. History, History. At theBasic historical terms: historical encyclopedia of political and social language in Germany,2:593-717. Stuttgart: Curse.

Köselleck, Reinhart. 1979.Forgotten future. On the semantics of historical times. Frankfurt: Suhrkamp.

Krippendorf, Klaus. 1984. Paradox and information. At theadvances in communicationsEd. Brenda Dervin and Melvin J. Voigt, 45-71. Norwood, NJ: Ablex Publications.

Lanzara, Giovan Francesco and Francesco Pardi. 1980The interpretation of complexity: systemic method and social sciences. . . . Naples: Guide.

LaPorte, Todd R., Ed. 1975.Organized social complexity: a challenge to politics and politics.. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

L. D. H. [The friend of men] [Victor de Riqueti, Marquis de Mirabeau]. 1774.Science or the rights and duties of man. Lausanne: Grasset.

Lübbe, Hermann, Oskar Koehler, Wolf Lepenies, Thomas Nipperdey, Gerhard Schmidtchen, Gerd Roellecke. one thousand nine hundred and eighty-twoOrphan Man's Orientation? An interdisciplinary exploration. Freiburg: Alber.

Luhmann, Niklas. 1981. How is social order possible? At thesocial and semantic structure,by Niklas Luhmann, 2: 195-285. Frankfurt: Suhrkamp.

Luhmann, Niklas. one thousand nine hundred and eighty-two.The differentiation of society.. Nova York: Columbia University Press.

Luhmann, Niklas. 1984.Social Systems: Grundriba general theory. Frankfurt: Suhrkamp.

Luhmann, Niklas. 1985. On the concept of social class. At theSocial differentiation: on the history of an idea,Ed. Niklas Luhmann, 119–62. Opladen: West German Publisher.

McCulloch, Warren. 1965.personification of spirit. Cambridge: MIT Press.

Malvezzi, Virgil. 1635. Portrait of the Christian Private Politician. PTWorks by Marquis Malvezzi,Von Virgil Malvezzi. Mailand: Mediolanum.

OSTERLE, Ingrid. 1985. The "leading change of time horizons" in German literature. At theStudies on the aesthetics and literary history of the period of art,Edit Dirk Grathoff, 11–75. Frankfurt: Lang.

O'Neill, John. 1976. The Hobbesian Problem in Marx and Parsons. At theExplorations in general theory in the social sciences,January edition J. Loubser, Rainer C. Baum, Andrew Effrat, and Victor Meyer Lidz, 1: 295–308. New York: Free Press.

Parsons, Talcott. 1949.The structure of social action.. 2nd edition Glencoe, Illinois: Free Press.

Prigogin, Ilya. 1981. Order Outside of Chaos. KnowDisorder and Order: Proceedings of the Stanford International Symposium (14-16 de setembro de 1981),Paisley Livingston edition, 41–60. Sarotoga, California: Libros Anma.


Robinet, John the Baptist. 1766from nature. 3. Aufl. Amsterdam: van Harrevelt.

Ross, Edward A. 1907.Sin and society: an analysis of modern injustice. Boston: Houghton e Mifflin.

ROTH, Gerhard. 1986. Self-organization - Self-preservation - Self-referentiality: Principles of Organization of Living Beings. At theSelf-organization: the emergence of order in nature and society,Ed. Andreas Dress, Hubert Hendrichs and Günter Küppers, 149–80. Munique: Piper.

Simmel, Jorge. 1890.About social differentiation. Leipzig: Duncker and Humblot.

Sporl, Johannes. 1930. Old and New in the Middle Ages Studies on the Problem of Medieval Consciousness of Progress.historical yearbook50: 297–341, 498–524.

United Nations University. 1985The science and practice of complexity.. Tokyo: United Nations University.


The temporalization of the social order:
Some Theoretical Observations on Change in "Change"

bernardo giesen

Anyone who is unwilling to limit the analysis of social change to sketching temporal variations in social phenomena, but insists on wanting to establish an independent theory of social change, is quickly suspected of speculating on such a hope. If it could be argued that social change is neither more nor less a specific theme of theorizing than history itself, it could be argued that the explanations of the sequence and the relationships between the events that make up history and social change have already been the action. and framework theories were delivered; consequently, separate theoretical concepts are not required.

However, any attempt to dissociate the analysis of social change from autonomous theoretical concepts ignores the tacit categorical assumptions that are made in any analysis of social change. While "temporality" must be taken as a universal requirement for experience, notions of temporality and change are subject to change over time. The following considerations address social change and evolutionary development from these categorical assumptions about change and development.

These considerations start from the assumption that certain differences in the history of ideas and structural changes were necessary before changes over time could be understood as "social change". If we trace the history of the origins of the concept of social change, there is some evidence to suggest that "social change" as a sociological concept already represents a further transformation of the temporal structures on which history is based.

I would like to thank Wolfgang Schneider and Uwe Sibeth for stimulating criticism and helping to investigate the conceptual history of 'change'.


Modern-day theory, or rather models of salvation history in Christian philosophy (cf. Löwith 1953). Consequently, these differentiations present a repertoire of possible approaches to the theme of social change that delimits and structures any theoretical treatment. The following evolutionary-theoretical scheme starts from the consideration that the passage from historical change to social change transforms temporary structures in a manner analogous to the secularization process, in which the problem of social change differs from that of the social order.[1]

1. Analysis of temporary structures

The basis for the explanations in this chapter is the following model for analyzing interpretation patterns.[2]According to this model, analyzes of worldviews, patterns of interpretation and categorical structures can be developed in three dimensions. The first dimension involves the representation of different world classification systems. The characteristic of these systems is the spatial-topological distinction between different spheres, which takes place in its most fundamental form in the dichotomous differentiation of inside and outside, near and far, above and below.[3]The second dimension deals with the different models of production, genesis and temporal chaining of events. These process models, which lead to patterns of interpretation, go back to elementary experience and the design of temporality in carrying out actions. The third dimension deals with the ways and methods by which a subject reflexively examines and adopts an attitude towards the world (it does not matter if this subject is individual or collective). When analyzing patterns of interpretation or categorical frameworks, I assume that all patterns of interpretation contain a structural, procedural, and reflexive dimension.

1.1. topological structure

Like other models, temporality and change models are very difficult to conceive of without reference points. The structural and topological reference is here represented by a fundamental difference to which our perception and imagination refer.

[1] For a discussion of the secularization process, see Blumenberg 1974 (75ff.); Lübbe 1965. M. Weber refers to religious secularization as part of the rationalization process. See Weber 1963 (1:11) and Schluchter 1980 (9-40).

[2] For the concept of structure of interpretation, see Oevermann 1973; Giessen 1987; Arnold 1983.

[3] Structuralists typically refer only to the topological dimension of symbol systems, ignoring the equally important dimensions of process and reflective interpretation.


Change depends: the difference between a sphere of stability, continuity and identity on the one hand and a sphere of variability, transformation and dynamism on the other. Change can only be perceived in a constant context, just as continuity can only be recognized in the sphere of change. In its elementary form, this difference between stability and continuity appears as the limit between the experiencer's continuity and the chaotic change of what is experienced in the "world". Of course, the positions that guarantee identity and continuity can also be developed outside the subject that lives in the world. Thus, the development of differences in temporality between different spheres and the topology of these spheres constitutes the first axis of a theoretical-evolutionary reconstruction of models of change.[4]

1.2. process models

Until now, process models have received much attention from authors of historical theories and metatheories of social change.[5]Observers distinguish between cyclical and recurrent notions of the passage of time, on the one hand, and cumulative models of purposeful progress and development, on the other. A third concept of chronological order has received less attention: the idea that events happen chaotically and randomly, the idea of ​​chance and imprecision.[6]

Elementary experiences such as purposeful action, aging, the day-night cycle, and uncertainty about world events form the ontogenetic basis of process models. The nature of such processes provides a second important distinguishing feature among the models: change can be driven by action-like processes or by natural events. The growing differentiation between natural, objective and action-relevant processes represents an important line of development in the evolution of temporal structures.

No society has limited its concept of change exclusively to a specific process model; several of these models were always used simultaneously, although, of course, they differed by spheres. In addition to differentiation by time, that is, by the speed of change, the differentiation of spheres by cyclical, cumulative, or chaotic processes is another focus of an evolutionary analysis of patterns of change.

[4] For the evolution of time levels, see Fraser 1982. M. Schmid (1986) also advocates an evolutionary theoretical view of time.

[5] However, chemistry was the first scientific discipline to use the term "process". See Rogers 1983.

[6] However, the concept of randomness has recently received more attention in the philosophy of history. See Koselleck 1968; Meyer 1978; Troeltsch 1913; Lube 1977, 54-68.


1.3. reflective form

The subject of change processes can adopt three possible reaction attitudes. An alternative is that the subject promotes, accelerates or delays the change in an active and determined way. Another alternative is that the subject experiences the change as inevitable and uncontrollable, although his own actions are affected. The third attitude is that the subject who experiences a change is not sufficiently affected by it and perceives it with an attitude of indifference. Of course, no society limits itself to a single attitude towards change processes, but attitudes are always differentiated by areas. For example, even if they accept fatalistic changes in most areas, actors in carrying out their everyday actions may adopt an activist attitude and be indifferent to changes in natural phenomena that they perceive but do not clearly affect them. The attention of the evolutionary analysis is thus directed to the change distributed by spheres in which it evokes activist, fatalistic and indifferent attitudes.

2. The change in "change"

2.1. time as period of action

Such an analysis is based on a pattern of interpretation that does not differentiate between processes of social action, on the one hand, and processes of change and social order, on the other. Within this pattern of interpretation, there is no recognizable social order that stands out from interaction processes. Perception of change and change over time is limited to the experienced and remembered period of time to whichdurationof social action.[7]Thus, the "narrative" logic through which the action is told frames and structures the logic underlying the passage of time.[8]The remembered "stories" are kept in motion by the interaction of multiple actors, and the beginning and end of the stories are determined by the treatment of the subject of the interaction.[9]

Both the change experienced in the world during the action and the change experienced in the subjects themselves, which they remember when considering their personal experience of aging

[7] The phenomenological conception of time focuses only on the mental representation of time as a period of action. See Bergman 1981.

[8] For the narrative conception of the historical method, see Louch 1966; Danto 1965; Olafson 1970.

[9] In a magical understanding of the world, nature is also composed of entities that it is possible to interact with, although this can sometimes be difficult. Such interactions do not involve a separate level of change or time experience.


naturally limited, as long as there is no social structure that differs according to time periods. Aging processes occur synchronously and, therefore, hardly give reason for the social differentiation of periods or time levels. Beyond the period of action and lifetime that can be directly experienced, the world is experienced as timeless and ultimately chaotic.

Primitive classifications, by definition not systematized by any general principle, clearly show the confusing complexity of the world. They hardly offer a topological "stop" to identify time that extends beyond one's lifetime or beyond one's actions in the present (Lévi-Strauss 1962). The only way in which primitive classification allows a series of lives to be connected is through the kinship of conception and birth; this shifts the time horizon into the past and creates an awareness of continuity and change independent of the experience of the present. Obviously, the extension of such a model of genealogical time marks a line of development that leads from the concept of action time to the concept of socially differentiated time.

2.2 Historical time

2.2.1 The differentiation of temporary levels.

This socially differentiated notion of temporality can exist and capture changes beyond individual courses of action or experiences only if the structure of the social order is detached from interaction processes to assume a longer duration and scope than individual interaction processes. In early high cultures, the topological structure of such an order appears as a vertical hierarchical order of several levels, which differ according to the speed of change and the forms of the process (see Kanitscheider 1974, 27; Lämmli 1962). The highest level of the hierarchy is generally timeless and infinite: the realm of the gods, the sacred, and the cosmic order. This kingdom preserves continuity and stability, gives unity and cohesion to time, determines changes in the world and determines the destinies of peoples. This celestial sphere was initially - and for a long time afterwards - understood as acting persons: omnipotent and immortal gods who created the world, who direct the history of mankind through their work and as world laws reign their supreme rulers. The distance from the reference to the continuity of the individual human subject did not mean the abandonment of the action scheme as a process model.[10]

[10] Greek philosophy was the first to depersonalize this level, understanding them, on the one hand, as elementary building blocks and principles of nature and, on the other hand, as eternal ideas. Both the pre-Socratic and the Platonic alternatives mark a decisive and far-reaching structural shift.


Under the eternal and infinite order of the sacred, but determined by it, there is a change in the course of politics, that is, in the rise and fall of empires. Compared to the eternal order of the cosmos, the rhythm of this level takes the form of a short-term cyclic succession and remains a series of mere "stories" in which cohesion can be found only at the top level (Hager 1974; Meier 1975). ; Koselleck 1973). State and union formation processes, i. h the passage of time on the political level, however, represents long-term growth and development in relation to the period of action experienced by the individual, and serves as a point of reference to give "primordial meaning" to the parallels of trajectories and the chaotic multiformity of life individual

This intermediate level of historical and political change was cut off from the eternal order of the cosmos, on the one hand, and the juxtapositions and fabrics of the present, on the other. But even these divisions do not exclude that higher-level historical processes have been understood in the sense of the well-known period-of-action model. Action theory metaphors continued to define the picture: struggle and conflict, victory and defeat, ambition and meanness. The development of historical time occurs initially as a topological differentiation of time, but not of process forms.

Below the politically constituted "historical time", that is, at the level of action and social interaction, change continues to occur according to the principles of the period of action. However, the use of historical chronology facilitates the recall of past action situations.[11]The hierarchical construction of temporal levels allows a special and sharp perception of time: speed, transience and transience are no longer perceived only by contrast with the continuity of the subject. The individual becomes aware that his own lives and actions are ephemeral, fleeting and lonely. Through this solitude and isolation from human action, notions of human individuality appear, for example, in Roman thought (cf. Seneca 1969; Boethius 1974). At the same time, the desire to transcend one's ephemeral existence and reach the plane of immortality becomes a powerful motivating force for human action and a central theme of high religions.

As divine order, historical change, and human action diverge, a final essential point is that the acting subject must adopt an attitude: activism and fatalism then diverge. activism is

[11] Koselleck has recently proposed a triple differentiation of levels of time that separates before and after events of historical action from supra-individual historical processes and metahistorical "conditions of historical possibility". See Koselleck 1984; Bradell 1958.


it is limited to the subject's relation to processes occurring at the same time level or the next lower level, while fatalism refers to attitudes towards higher levels. It is assumed that interactions between "neighboring" levels are always possible, but that differences in time generally preclude bottom-up control. Human action is too ephemeral to determine historical processes, and the course of history has nothing to do with the gods. An attitude of indifference towards change, the last alternative, can only develop when certain levels are depersonalized and objectified, for example, when the responsibility of guaranteeing the unity of the world and maintaining the progress of history no longer rests with the will of one Eternal god. but in an impersonal cosmic order. As long as action-like processes keep the world moving, fatalism and activism will remain the dominant forms of reaction.

2.2.2 The model of salvation history.

It is now common to see Judeo-Christian eschatology as transcending the cyclical concepts of history that prevailed during the classical period. The Christian promise of salvation meant that the tension between earthly life and the next, between the eternal kingdom of God and the finite and changeable earthly kingdom, must become the engine of an irreversible and linear history of salvation. In the end, by the grace of God and the efforts of the elect, life on earth and the afterlife would be reconciled. From this point of view, it is humanity's task to advance this history of salvation through the sacralization of the here and now and to advance it in view of the return of the Holy Spirit. It was the agreement to accomplish this task that separated the chosen from the damned.

Original Judeo-Christian eschatology still conceives of history in terms of a temporal model of action. By virtue of its alliance with a powerful God and the intervention of his Son, a people remembers and lives its history as a path to a salvation initially understood as quite earthly. This ultimately magical pattern of interpretation was based less on the separation of different temporal levels than on the topological difference between the Chosen People and the Pagans. Only after it became clear that the Redeemer's return was not expected in a single lifetime, under the influence of classical philosophy, the temporal horizon and topological difference between earthly life and the afterlife, between God and the world, between the immortal and the soul and the mortal flesh and between the earthly and heavenly realms were widened, thus diverting the division between the chosen people and the Gentiles. There was another topological difference between the individual and the


world historical levels of explanation. The individual could progress on the path of salvation; the world fulfilled God's promise of salvation through the sequence of the three kingdoms (paradise, life after the fall, and redemption).[12]

Another major development was the redesign of the process model for change in the secular domain. The cyclical view of the rise and fall of empires was complemented by the perspective of the unilinear and irreversible development of the world and the progress of salvation.

For history to be understood also as salvation history, it was also necessary for people to become active in their approach and struggle for salvation. The redemption and reconciliation of the earthly life with the life to come was not only God's work, but also affected humanity. This eschatological dualism brought a positive moment of overarching tension to historical change. Change was no longer just a short-term malaise with no underlying hope. He now had the perfection and redemption of the world as his aim and ultimate goal. The beginning and end of history were again determined by the timelessness of paradise, past and future. Of course, the eschatological process initially remained entirely within the framework of performance theoretical notions: the world was created by a personal God who issued commandments and, if humanity obeyed them, would secure its own path to salvation.

2.2.3. Secularization as a structural change in the history of salvation.

With the rediscovery of classical philosophy in the twelfth century, a topological differentiation began that justified the modern secularization process in the hierarchical model of temporal levels (Hoffmann [1926] 1960; Baeumker 1927; Beierwaltes 1969; Bredow 1972). The worldly realm was now more and more clearly differentiated in two directions. First, the course of history and the prevailing social order were cut off from the individual struggle for salvation and morality. Second, the sphere of action and history was separated from the natural order. Nature, however, was no longer seen as unredeemed, profane, barbaric, and the source of the base desires of the flesh. Rather, it was seen as God's creation, a creation that reveals the eternal principles of the divine. The individual actually withdraws from the spheres of worldly interests and changes times for his inner being,

[12] See Augustine 1955, 1:35, 10:32, 15:1, 5, 21, 10:14. See also Aquileia 1864, Chapter 43, 246A: "Perfection not in years, but in souls"; and Aquinas 1934, 1, 2 q. 106, Art. 4c: "Therefore, there can be no present state of life more perfect than the state of the new law: the more perfect you are, the closer you are to the final goal."


it becomes an equally timeless setting for encountering God and knowing the truth.

The "dehistoricization" of nature as an image of the divine and the dehistoricization of the individual as a place of search for salvation and knowledge have the consequence that the level of historical processes seems particularly secular, profane and temporary. As the level of individual action comes under increasing pressure throughout salvation history and the eternal laws of the Creator are sought in nature, history and politics are gradually freed from their eschatological ties and treated as a specific area of ​​concern in life. human action. with its own dynamics. Even the last attempts to give history a theological intent in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries (by Bossuet and the Protestant historians of the world) could not avoid assuming intramundane regularities in their description of the course of history (cf. B. Carion [1532] 1966; Bossuet 1964; Klempt 1960, 8). If we follow the Renaissance historiographies of Guicardini and Machiavelli, the active intervention of the eternal God recede into the background. God is no longer revealed to believers. Rather, believers experience it through their own reason. Nature obeys the immutable and eternal laws of its Creator, and history becomes the arena of interests and policies that operate according to their own secular principles (Machiavelli [1532] 1962; Bodin [1583] 1961; and Pufendorf [ 1744] 1967).

In modern thought, too, the level of historical time above the level of action time is mainly constituted by politics and law. Political interests move history, legal and state principles constitute the social order. The legitimation of law and authority by God through his grace, by reason through enlightened monarchy, by nature through the concept of natural law, or by individual freedom through the concept of contractual agreement thus become central problems in the transmission of continuity or discontinuity. The "de-steologization" of history and the de-historicization of nature bring about a fundamental transformation of temporal levels. The level of timelessness is no longer understood as a level of people's performance. The objectivity of reason, natural law and natural laws now take the place of the eternal God.

On the contrary, the social level, which includes usages and customs, initially seems incoherent and arbitrary, composed of illusions and mere fashions, "irrational" (cf. Fontenelle [1686] 1908). Differences between the social sphere, on the one hand, and natural and moral principles, on the other, offer a possibility for analysis and explanation. “External circumstances that cause differences in human usages and customs


what can most favor them must be divided into natural and moral circumstances," said Walch.philosophical dictionary,published in 1726 (Walch [1726] 1968). Physical constitution and climate are assumed to be the main natural causes, with differences in upbringing and education being the main moral causes (Montesquieu [1758] 1950. The education of mankind through enlightenment is thus offered as a paradigm of change and progress .[13]Following the famous, the idea of ​​​​progress must be developed.dispute between ancients and moderns,"that is, the argument about the relative merits of ancient and modern learning, in the central concept of eighteenth-century historical theory (Burry [1932] 1955). Observers believed that this was possible by applying reason and gaining knowledge from nature, and superstition and undo growing misunderstandings and make the story itself rational.

The new model and paradigm of history, then, is the academic and scientific progress that many believe will allow us to plan the destiny of humanity in an enlightened society. "Man's perfectibility knows no factual limits and can never become decadence", writes Condorcet in 1793 ([1793] 1963, 27, my translation). The notion of infinite progress had as its counterpart the universal extension of history proposed by Voltaire in his famous workcustoms essay. Europe and Christianity were no longer the obvious reference points of historical change. Shortly before, Vico, in hisnew science,I had done itcivilized worldSubject of a special branch of science that studies social action and social order. This investigation was not carried out in relation to moral precepts or the history of salvation as hitherto, but in relation to current conditions. The future opened up as a perspective of infinite progress, the field of observation widened and the "social" was discovered as an object of empirical science. The limitations of the hierarchical model have been overcome for good.

In addition to the expansion of historical space in Voltaire's philosophy of history, the eighteenth-century scientific concept of time also broke down the barriers of the hierarchical model of levels of time. The concept of an objectively measurable course of time, determined and driven by the laws of nature, gradually established itself as a point of reference. Historical time, on the other hand, seems limited, imprecise, and inconstant. The temporality of the world, on the one hand, and that of the course of history and experience, on the other, are therefore increasingly delimited by different process models. "setting goals"

[13] Löwith (1953, 74) calls Pascal the first to see history as a learning process, albeit with a Christian intent.


Time moves according to the eternal laws of nature, while historical time is kept in motion by human progress (Elias 1984).

23. The Rise of “Social Change”

2.3.1. The time of the topological structure.

The years of the late 18th and early 19th centuries are now considered by historians to be a transitional period. This applies in particular to understanding temporality, history and change. The hierarchical topology of different temporal levels, in which change and adaptation are part of an integral and stable order, is replaced by a model that understands change as an abstract and universal process that inverts the relations between order and change. Change is no longer contained within the framework of an order that guarantees continuity, but order is the ever new product of a process of integral and continuous change.

The "temporalization of order" as part of the consciousness of progress in the nineteenth century is first recognized in a transition from fundamentally synchronized topologies to a series of successive stages of development.[14]The stage that arrives later in time is considered superior and gets a higher rank. Historical change no longer founds a unity and a point of reference that guarantees continuity at a higher level of timelessness, but rather in an infinite future that must take place "as soon as possible". From the point of view of modern consciousness, change is becoming the norm. Efforts to consolidate processes of change into stable orders border on the pathological, and the legitimacy of the modern order rests above all on its ability to be systematically revised and reformed. Progress, history, development, and ultimately evolution are the integral "collective singulars" (Koselleck 1972, 1973). As "stages of development" (Koselleck 1972, xvii), their processes and courses provide the material for differentiating different forms of order. Although one could speak of progress in science in the early eighteenth century, the terms development, progress, or even history were not commonly found in philosophical dictionaries. But in the first half of the nineteenth century these terms were part of the accepted inventory of philosophy (see Krug [1832-38] 1969, 1:776, 2:591, 216).

The temporalization of order is also reflected in the temporary change in meaning of the term “revolution” (Koselleck 1984). Kepler still used the term "Revolution"to describe the orbits of the planets. In the 17th and 18th centuries, the term referred to the redefinition

[14] See Luhmann 1978 for the analytically inverse concept of "complexity temporalization". Luhmann discusses the temporalization process at the level of general systems theory in hissocial systems(1984). See also Luhmann 1975b and 1980.


of the old and just order, for history, having lost its innate order, has completed yet another cycle. But in the 19th century the revolution was understood as the acceleration of history. The old order stands in the way of change and progress and must therefore be crushed to make a way for history. Finally, in the following century, the "permanent revolution" marks the attempt to prevent any tendency in history, once accelerated, from solidifying enough to produce a new order. In the latter case, the change itself should be enough to ensure that sanity prevails.

The temporalization of order is worked into our current view of social structure through the metaphor of the avant-garde, which is now starting to replace the concept of social position and honor: it is no longer about traditional position, but about the ability to obstruct everything that is new. and future that creates social respect. The avant-garde concept has been temporalized to the core. What is avant-garde today will be common knowledge tomorrow and will even be considered “backward” soon after (Eco 1984, 77).

Neither the principles of a social order as a whole nor its law and policy can be understood without a chronological location: the juxtaposition of progressive and conservative is an allusion to historical orientations. The working class builds its interests not on old demands that were ignored in the past, but on the social order of the future. And applicable law is notoriously suspected of being "out of date" and getting in the way of history. Classical social theory from Comte and Hegel to Marx and from Spencer and Mill to Durkheim is determined by this model of the temporalization of the social order. Viewers can only analyze and understand a social order by comparing it with its past and future stages of development and understanding it as a product of historical development. Monarchs no longer guarantee the unity of a society as symbols of the unity of the state or of God. It is replaced by the future and the orientation of actions towards the project of configuring a society of the future.

This temporary relativization of the social order obviously brought problems to a purely moral approach to the social, which was still emphasized in the eighteenth century, for example in the Scottish School of Moral Philosophy. The focus of attention was not the relationship of a historical institution to the universal order of reason or morality, but rather its temporal relationship to earlier and later developments.

The temporalization of the topological structure is based on the cumulative process model that philosophers of late eighteenth-century history adopted from the secularization phase. In this model, each event and resting state is given its own position in the flow of time. The story is therefore unique; it's a story sequence


Individuals who can only be understood and ordered according to a single and timeless principle: the very principle of temporal consecutiveness (Meinecke 1959a; Meinecke 1959b, 118-20; Faber 1982, 45-65).

The temporalization of order also paved the way for a social theory that claimed to be a "positive science", that is, for an autonomous theory of social change that could no longer be reduced to action or theories of social order, but could claim to be a fundamental theory of the social. Since then, social theory is no longer contract theory, but evolutionary theory.

With the turn to social theory in the nineteenth century, the topological relationship between the individual, on the one hand, and the social sphere, on the other, changed. Until the Enlightenment, the old European tradition opposed the individual, in whom common reason and natural morality resided, with the sphere of customs, fashions, errors and variations that constituted the social. With Hegel at the latest, though probably earlier (with Proudhon and Turgot), this relationship begins to focus on itself. The individual now seems short-sighted, driven by self-interest and blind passion, unable to understand what is the underlying reason for social development and the course of history. Only through the cunning of reason do the historical forces which are behind the backs of the actors (Marx) and which also assert themselves against the will and without the understanding of the actors shape historical progress. The reason for the story can be discerned through close examination, and the important point is to reveal the essential and general aspects beneath the surface of particular individual actions.

2.3.2 Functional differentiation as a process model.

The temporalization of the topology is complemented by the restructuring of the process model, so that the dynamics of change are no longer derived from the tension between unequal hierarchical levels, but from the relationship between social units of equal hierarchy. The individual struggle for salvation gives rise to the dynamics of functionally differentiated subsystems.[quince]

In the context of the old European time-level model, the political functional aspect has already crystallized differently for the historical level of change. This reference point was formulated in terms of the theory of action and order as the logic of the rational pursuit of political interests or as a matter of just government and authority. The "self-thematization" of society, as in

[15] Luhmann (1980) states that the temporalization of complexity is closely linked to the functional differentiation of society.


Modern times clearly reflect this differentiation in politics. Social theory was indeed political theory, an identity that can also be inferred from the increasing "juridification" of social action and social processes. The demand for legal regulation of claims to authority has long been at the heart of modern notions of progress and has been a central theme of political movements.

Enlightenment social theory, with its orientation towards scientific knowledge, reason and natural morality, prevented the dominance of politics. Scientific advances have made political authority and legal requirements seem backward and unwarranted. Progress had now changed horses: the differentiated sphere of science and culture, not politics, was at the forefront of history. (Even in Comte, the highest stage of historical development is still determined by the dominance of positive science.)

In the early 19th century, another functional area provided the subject matter of social theory: the economy. A significant part of nineteenth-century social theory consisted of analyzing society using the terminology and paradigms of economics. The concepts of "division of labor" and "functional differentiation" became fundamental structural concepts in social theory, and the concept of progress was increasingly interpreted as an increase in economic productivity. In this movement, the orientation towards economic goals seemed to involve and regulate all other notions of progress. Raising the level of production meant prosperity and happiness for the individual and progress in science, and became the guiding principle of politics and law. This fascination with economic dynamics as the fundamental engine of social movement can be felt in Marx, who wrote that history is characterized by the contradiction between the dynamics of productive forces and their shackles by law, politics and ideology, i.e. to backward areas. Only when ideology, law and politics have overcome this developmental deficit can history regain its meaning. As Löwith (1953) has shown, the old theme of salvation history is taken up again, and in addition -especially when communist society is no longer a realistic expectation of history- a new model of process is documented, which will gain each becoming more important over time.

Once politics, science, and economics were symbolically and institutionally identified and differentiated, various social spheres emerged that were so interrelated that unrest in any one of these spheres fundamentally unbalanced the relations between the spheres and increased tension. Establishing relationships between spheres with different dynamics opens up a new way of experiencing time. If temporality and change are the basic data of history,


Specific fixed points can no longer be used as guarantees of continuity: everything is always in motion, and the only constant is change itself. different dynamics between the spheres and in the abyss between the advanced and backward spheres.[sixteen]

If these differences in dynamics do not appear and the different spheres develop "in time", that is, synchronously, then the possibility of historical time also disappears. If developments accelerate and a certain "pacemaker" sphere triggers a rise of society as a whole due to its own dynamics, then history and change have their chance. Consequently, order in a given society can never be a concrete and definitive phenomenon. Order is always a procedural, provisional and transitory structure that has its continuity only in the infinity of the process itself and in the non-simultaneity between different spheres. With society's shift from a stratified to a functionally differentiated structure, models of temporality are also fundamentally reconstructed. Within the framework of order, the guaranteed continuity of change is replaced by the time of order and the social hierarchy of the market as the model of history and change.

A similar paradigm shift occurred in biology when Darwin's theory of evolution replaced Linnaeus's classification of natural processes. Darwin's theory of the origin of species through natural selection, which would prove extraordinarily important to later social theory, reveals the time of order in its very name. Several observers have noted that Darwinian theory was inspired by certain economic theories of the time.[17]

2.3.3.The objectification and moral neutralization of the social sphere.

The modified composition of the topological structure and the changing process model in modern theory of change are contrasted with changes in the dominant reflexive forms of change. These changes mainly involve moral aspects giving way to cognitive aspects in society.

[16] This is a point already pointed out by Schlegel: "The real problem of history is the inequality of progress in the various components of the whole human formation, especially in the great divergence with the repetition of the degree of intellectual and moral formation". (quoted in Koselleck 1975, 391, my translation). More recent theories about the experience of time in relation to the system have taken this starting point (Bergmann 1981, 171).

[17] It was not until Darwin read Malthus's essay on population in October 1838 that he found a theoretical model that integrated his observations. See De Beer 1964. Marx originally intended to dedicate the first volume ofA capitalfor Darwin. For a general discussion of the various connections between social theories and Darwin's theory of evolution, see Burrow 1966.


This movement, which is part of the integral rationalization process of modernity, is reflected in the value-neutral attitude of scientific observation. This change can be seen in the changing concept of society in the 19th century, as well as in the objectification of social structures, which increasingly distance themselves from the level of individual social action.

In the seventeenth century, "society" still referred broadly to societies particularized in terms of organized groupings that served a specific purpose. Later, it also acquires the meaning of a community of cultured and civilized people.[18]Only in the course of the 19th century did “bourgeois society” lead to the concept of society as an integral social system that cannot be reduced to its components (cf. Riedel 1975). The objective structures of history and society, on the one hand, and the processes of individual and collective action, on the other, assume their own identities. The progress of history and the development of the individual or the development of a collective subject, p. B. humanity, the nation, followed the same pedagogical principle in Enlightenment philosophy and in the model of contract theory, the structure of the State has always remained committed to the interests of contractors. But in later times the collective singulars (cf. Koselleck 1972, 1973), i. h history, society and progress, to a series of impersonal, abstract and objective interrelationships that actually developed in opposition to subjectivity and particularized organizations. The levels of interaction, organization and society diverge (Luhmann 1975a, 1984, 551ff.).

This objectification of the social is particularly evident in the nature of the relationship between different levels of society. In pre-modern hierarchical models of history, the relationship was one of command and obedience, of moral precepts and observance of commandments. The idea of ​​a relationship of action between different actors that could be moralized remained linked to the Enlightenment vision of history. However, these relations were seen in reverse: in the conflict between rulers and ruled, the apologists of the Ancien Régime and those of the revolution, and later between society and the individual, the upper level of the hierarchy was tinged with immorality.

In the nineteenth century, the notion of society began to separate from the notion of voluntary action to which it must morally refer, whether in the form of rebellion or obedience. Society is understood as an objective structure that is only linked to it at the level of action.

[18] Lake "Society" in Zedler 1735, col. 1260; "Society" in Zedler 1743, col. 171; "Societät (public)" in Zedler 1743, col. 180; "Society" in Walch [1726] 1968, 1: col. 1659-63; "Societät" in Walch [1726] 1968, 2: col. 916; "Society" in Adelung 1775, 617; "Society (societas)" in Krug [1832-38] 1969, 2:238-42; and Kaupp 1974, col. 459-66.


about the unintended consequences of the action or, more often, about the not necessarily conscious preconditions for the action. As structure and action, or, to use another terminology, system and lifeworld, or, to use another famous expression, society and community, diverge, this tendency is first treated morally, as an opportunity to criticize modernity. But later it will be treated theoretically, as a theme and starting point for sociological reflection. Although Marx is critical of the commodity form and the abstraction of social relations, he systematically uses the separation of social conditions, individual conscience and the social consequences of action in his own conception of crisis. Compared to the impersonal and objective mechanisms of capital's valorization process, individual conscience, even the collective conscience of individual classes, seems to be of secondary importance. But the very economic conditions involved in the process of capital exploitation are tacit and deeply rooted relationships, which in the Enlightenment tradition, of course, must be understood as authoritarian and as an obstacle to the reign of freedom.

With Durkheim, however, the non-contractual components of the contract become constitutive structures of society and the moral basis of society is separated from the sphere of individual or collective action. Action no longer provides the explanation of social structures; instead, action is now explained as a product of these structures. At the same time, the objectivity of social structures is limited by their forms of manifestation in culture, religion and economy. The relationship between knowledge and society has fundamentally changed since the Enlightenment. The dynamism -or the backwardness- of knowledge no longer determines changes in customs; rather, the structure of society explains differences in knowledge and religion.

Since Durkheim, society has irrevocably become an objective, empirical reality that can no longer be adequately captured in moral reflection or controlled by political action. Rather, society as an empirical system must, in fact, be approached scientifically and cognitively to determine the principles inherent in everything social. Sociology appears as an empirical and positive science. Science's attitude towards change is based primarily on the impartiality of the observer who seeks objectivity. While activism remains the dominant citizen attitude within society, this orientation inevitably disappears when scientific examination of the real situation begins. Above all, Weber's theory of sociological science documents this distanced attitude towards social reality. His work, in which social action becomes a comprehensive concept of the subordination of economic action, marks the end of a line drawn from the


Idea of ​​irrationality and arbitrariness of customs to a marked social logic, which underlies the diversity of historical change. Finally, the modern sociological theory of social change appears with the intention of assuming the position of historical theory and assuming the legacy of secularization.

3. About the current situation of the theory of social change

Contemporary theories of social change are faced with a scenario that has not only developed beyond the temporal structures of the secularized model of salvation history, but also beyond nineteenth-century evolutionism. The topological differentiation of different temporal levels is complemented and superimposed by the disorderly juxtaposition of several subsystems of the same echelon. Social structures are no longer seen just as a reflection or consequence of individual or collective action, but as an integral basis that determines action.

Interpretation of the change process itself no longer depends on a secularized version of the salvation-history model. History has lost sight of its purpose, and even the concept of a cyclical course of events can no longer offer a plausible global interpretation of the historical process. Discontent and changes in social structures are no longer just the product of the contingencies and interdependencies of individual action; they are also the product of the unregulated interrelations of social systems that try to maintain and reproduce their structures in the face of uncertain environments. Layered structures and cyclical processes occur in temporally and structurally bounded processes, but not in the process of social change as a whole.

The whole process of change is nothing more than the most general and empty frame of reference for building and dismantling structures. In this extreme formulation, change is synonymous with temporality. This generalization, together with the dilution of the concept of change, is reflected in the passage from the lived and remembered time of action to the time reflected in the course of history to the objective time in physics, which is also the self-evident frame of reference for the sociology. change analysis. This time is infinite, empty, reversible, as well as divisible and measurable.

There are several ways in which sociological theory can respond to this situation. I describe the two main options.

1. The first possibility is to abandon the goal of an autonomous theory of social change, because temporality and change are


general determinant of the social sphere. The category of change is too empty and unspecific to serve as a valuable object of specific theorizing. Therefore, the sociological analysis of change must confine itself to examining certain empirical aspects of specific processes of change. This option thus completes - with some delay - the distance from the ambitious theoretical training that the historical sciences have already accomplished. The obvious benefit of such a strategy is that the methodological approach would fall somewhere between quantitative historical studies and empirical analysis of social change. The price would be the underdevelopment of the theoretical concepts of this option and the abandonment of the theme of time to the natural sciences.

2. On the other hand, some theorists insist on a second option, which continues to deal sociologically with the question of change, but within the framework of simple temporal structures, sometimes too simple.

Four options are conceivable as a theoretical strategy for analyzing and explaining social change in the context of premodern temporal structures. Two of them fit the action period temporal model and do not strictly distinguish between the themes of social action, social order, and social change. Two other options establish differentiated levels of social action and social order, but still address the issue of social change in a computational theoretical framework. In both cases, the background is provided by a time-level model.

1. Individualist explanations and analyzes of social change give priority to theories of instrumental or strategic action, even when it comes to answering questions about social order and social change (cf. Schmid 1982, 58-92). Although individualist theories in their topologies separate the level of action from the level of structure or order, only the dynamics of benefit-oriented individual action are allowed as a process model. However, the entanglement and interweaving of these large-scale actions that lead to unintended effects are generally not addressed in specific theories of the social order. Rather, they are explained by a theory of instruments of action. Likewise, social change is understood as structural change related to action. Therefore, it is explained in terms of the theory of action. Consequently, social change is only considered adequately explained if it can be traced back to the actions of empirical subjects.[19]as a

[19] The idea of ​​a structural change mechanism contradicts the individualistic social ontology. See Alexander and Giesen 1987.


Social order or social structure is unthinkable without the individuals who constitute it, just as social change is incomprehensible without the actors who move it. As this implies a temporal decomposition of the change process into actions and their consequences, it undermines the analysis of long-term structural change. Fighting for long-range action outcomes is theoretically tedious and empirically tedious.

2. Interactionist analyzes of social change also find it difficult to differentiate between social action, social order, and social change in a theory-based way. Indeed, the ultimate goal of interactionist theory is to present social order and structure as the fragile and ephemeral result of an ongoing process of interaction and social construction.[20]Change is located directly at the level of action and does not require special theoretical questions. If enduring structural relationships play a role in the context of interactionist analysis, they do so as structures of symbolic knowledge that are the prerequisite for communication. Obviously, changing and adapting these structures is tied to an action-like process model.

3. Unlike individualist or interactionist analyses, classical systems and theoretical explanations of conflict do not start from the topic of action, but from the social order. They understand social change either as an instability of structures or as an adaptation to solve the problem of order. A similar shift in temporal structures is associated with the change in primacy from the theme of action to the theme of order: the period of action gives way to the model of time levels. The common objection against classical social functionalist theory that it is unable to provide an adequate explanation of social change is restated at this point. While traditional functionalist analyzes are capable of analyzing social change, they always start from a general assumption of social order.[21]Change occurs when actors try to eliminate imbalances, incompatibilities or tensions within the system.

[20] Schmid (1982, 104) claims that, upon further investigation, he was unable to identify any interactionist theory of social change. See also Turner 1974, 182

[21] Cf. Parsons 1951 and 1967. Münch correctly defends Parsons against the usual criticisms of the assumption of consensus and order.empiricallywrong, but the very idea of ​​considering social order as an analytical point of reference supports the thesis that Parsons' theories of the "middle" must be considered as prioritizing the problem of order. See Münch 1982, 108. Alexander 1982-83 provides the most complete elaboration of the problem of social action and social order.


and restoring a state of relative order or balance. The change is always made in the context of the order and in relation to the creation of the order. The concept of different systemic levels at which changes can occur points to the model of temporal levels as a topological framework. This concept makes superfluous the theoretical assumptions of action on the process of change. Change occurs as a process of finding balance or adaptation to a changing environment.

4. Social change conflict theoretical analyzes adhere to models of action-oriented processes, but apply these models to relationships between collective actors. Here, too, the problem of order comes to the fore. Conflicts between opposing social groups and interests are the result of the existing social order, and change can only be thought of as the result of conflicts over the social order (cf., for example, Dahrendorf 1958). In this situation, it is difficult to imagine an original conception of social change that is independent of the question of order. The theoretical analysis of change conflict also moves within the framework of the time-level model. An indicator of this model is the topological difference between the dominant class, which supposedly has conservative interests, and the groups dominated by it, seen as sources of change and agents of interest in changing the status quo.

5. In contrast to classical system and conflict theories, evolutionary theories in sociology take into account the temporalization of order in the modern worldview, but shift the theoretical focus from the question of order to the question of change. A fundamental distinction must be made here between two evolutionary views. One of these includes materialist theories of evolution, which see the dynamics of social evolution in terms of a progression in the relationship between society and nature (cf., for example, Lenski and Lenski 1970; White 1959; Sahlins and Service 1960). ; Harris 1977). On the other hand, there are idealist theories of evolution that analyze social evolution as a pedagogical relationship between members of society or even between the intellectual vanguard and people, as a learning process or as a rationalization of worldviews.[22]However, both the materialist and idealist variants of evolutionism assume a topological difference between a universally valid engine of evolution, on the one hand, and the spheres it moves with its retrograde tendency, on the other.

[22] Habermas 1976; Schluchter 1979. According to the (oversimplified) classification scheme offered in this chapter, Parsonian neoevolutionism and the neoParsonian theories of J. Alexander and R. Münch should be classified here as idealist evolutionary theories.


Hand. Of course, there are different and often conflicting interpretations of who is the driver and which are the lagging spheres. Social evolution is thus perceived as progressive relationships, as unilinear growth and development. One view focuses on thermodynamic efficiency and productivity growth; another focuses on the development of moral conscience, on progress and on the differentiation and rationalization of knowledge. Both variants of evolutionism are inspired by Enlightenment and 19th century models of progress).

6. If you want to take note of this criticism but not give up on the tense of order, then another concept of evolution understands functional differentiation as a process model and considers the concept of development driven by social change as an overarching phenomenon. be inappropriate.

Theories based on the analytical primacy of the question of change and based on a polycentric and relativistic view of history must bid farewell to the progress and development of global history. They must replace the concept of global and unilinear modernization and progress with a relativist conception of rationality, that is, with the idea of ​​structural “epigenesis” of the appearance and decay of structures in a limited time. History and progress dissolve into a multiplicity of contingent histories and progress, which, however, are connected and intertwined in a global process of change.

The radicalization of the modern pattern of time and change ends up creating a "postmodern" image of society. The topology of postmodern models of change abandons the moral opposition between the individual subject and society and dispenses with the critical differentiation of backward and progressive social spheres. Rather, he conceives of the realm of the social as composed of objective structures that exist above and beyond the acting subjects, and he directs attention to the structures' internal and external relationships. Postmodern topology focuses on the differences between system and environment, between structure and situation, and between text and context, and temporalizes these differences: the emergence and dissolution of structures are central to the postmodern paradigm of change.

Although the elaboration of this postmodern paradigm is still in its infancy, two alternative theoretical options can be identified. The first option is represented by attempts to apply advanced theoretical concepts from the sciences, specifically from the biological theory of


autopoietic systems or the theory of dissipative structures - about social processes (Luhmann 1984). The second option for a postmodern paradigm of change is the 'poststructuralist' analysis of related texts and concepts that points to the transformation of symbolic systems (cf. Lyotard 1984; Baudrillard 1983). Both options dramatically increase the objectification of social reality and the temporalization of the social order resulting from modernity. However, it is questionable whether a discipline deeply rooted in modernity, which Max Weber considers one of its founding fathers, can survive in the cold thin air of postmodern concepts of change.


Adelung, JC 1775.Attempt at a complete grammatical-critical dictionary…. Vol. 2 Leipzig: Breitkopf.

Alejandro, J. 1982–83.Theoretical logic in sociology. vol. 4,The Modern Reconstruction of Classical Thought: Talcott Parsons. Londres: Routledge und Kegan Paul.

Alexander, J. and B. Giesen. 1987. Introduction. At theThe micro-macro connection,Ed. J. Alexander, B. Giesen, R. Münch e N. Smelser, 1–42. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Aquileia, Paulino, 1864A book of reprimands, usually from sane documents.. NoA complete patrol course or a universal library,Chapter 43.latin series. Ed. J.-P. Migraine Flight. 99.Paris.

Aquino, Thomas von. 1934In short, theological.. Catholic Academic Association. Salzburg: Anton Pustet Verlag.

Arnold, R. 1983. Patterns of Interpretation: On the Elements of Meaning as well as the Theoretical and Methodological Referents of a Term.Journal of Pedagogy6: 893–912.

Augustine. 1955.of the theocracy[from the city of god]. 2 vol. Zurich: Artemis Verlag.

Baeumker, C. 1927. Platonism in the Middle Ages.Contributions to the History of Philosophy in the Middle Ages25, no. 1–2.

Baudrillard, J. 1988.selected writings. ed. M. Plakat. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Beierwaltes, W., Ed. 1969.Platonism in the Philosophy of the Middle Ages. Darmstadt: Bush Scientific Society.

Bergmann, W. 1981.The temporal structures of social systems.. Berlim: Dunker e Humblodt.

Blumenberg, H. 1974.Secularization and self-assertion. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp.

Bodin, J. [1583] 1961.The Six Books of the Republic with apology by R. Herpin. print out. Aalen: science.

Boethius. 1974.The solace of philosophy. ed. F. von Herman. reimprimir. Aschendorff.

Bossuet, JB 1964.Discourse on world history. Paris: Garnier Flammarion.

Braudel, F. 1958. History and Social Science: The Long Term.annual13: 725–53.


Bredow, G. v. 1972.Platonism in the Middle Ages. Freiburg: Römbach.

Touch, JW 1966.Evolution and Society: A Study in Victorian Social Theory. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Bury, JB [1932] 1960.The thought of progress: an investigation into its origin and growth. Nova York: Peter Smith.

Carion, J. [1532] 1966. Chronicle of Professor Johan Carion. At theThe beginnings of the historiography of the Reformation,Ed. H Scheible. Gütersloh: Editorial Güterslohe G. Mohn.

Condorcet, MJA [1793] 1963.Write a historical account of the advances of the human mind,Ed. W. Alff. Frankfurt am Main: European Publishing House.

Dahrendorf, R. 1958. On a theory of social conflicts.Conflict Resolution Magazine2: 170–83.

Danto, CA 1965.Analytical philosophy of history.. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

De Beer, GR 1964.Charles Darwin: evolution by natural selection. New York: double day.

Eco, U. 1984.Postscript to the name of the rose. Munich: Hauser.

Elias, N. 1984.Over time. . . . Works of sociology of knowledge, Ed. M. Schroter. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp.

Faber, K.-G. one thousand nine hundred and eighty-two.theory of history. Munich: German paperback publisher.

Fontenelle, Bernard La Bouyer de. [1686] 1908.Oracle's History. Paris: L. Maigron.

Fraser, JT 1982.emergence and development of time. Brighton: Erntemaschine.

Giesen, B. 1987. Natural inequality, social inequality, ideal equality. At thetheories of social inequality,Ed. B. Giesen and H. Haferkamp, ​​314–345. Opladen: West German Publisher.

Giesen, B. and C. Lau. 1981. On the application of Darwinian explanatory strategies in sociology.Cologne Journal of Sociology and Social Psychology33: 229–56.

Habermas, J. 1976.On the reconstruction of historical materialism. Frankfurt: Suhrkamp.

Hager, F. P. 1974. History, history. Part 1. Inhistorical dictionary of philosophyEd. J. Ritter and K. Founder, 3:344-45. Darmstadt: Society for Scientific Books.

Harris, M. 1977.cannibals and kings. New York: Coincidentally.

Hoffman, E. [1926] 1960.Platonism and Christian Philosophy. Rev. Ed. (original title:Platonism and the Middle Ages). Zurich: Artemis Verlag.

Kanitscheider, born in 1974.Philosophical-historical foundations of physical cosmology. Stuttgart: Reclam.

Kaupp, P. 1974. Society. At thehistorical dictionary of philosophyEd. J. Ritter and K. Founder, 3:459-66. Darmstadt: Society for Scientific Books.

Klempt, A. 1960.The secularization of the universal historical vision. Göttingen's building blocks for historical science. Vol. 31. Goettingen: Musterschmidt.

Koselleck, R. 1968. Coincidence as a residual motivation in historiography.


NoThe arts that are no longer beautiful: borderline phenomena of aesthetics,Ed. HR Jauss, 129-41. Poetics and Hermeneutics, No. 3. Munich: Fink.

Koselleck, R. 1972. Introduction. At thehistorical concepts,Ed. O. Brunner, W. Conze, and R. Koselleck, 1: xiii–xxvii. Stuttgart: Klett Cotta.

Koselleck, R. 1973. History, histories, and formal temporal structures. At thestory, event and narration,Ed. R. Koselleck and WD Stamp, 211–22. Munich: Fink.

Koselleck, R. 1975. In progress. At thehistorical concepts,Ed. O. Brunner, W. Conze and R. Koselleck, 2:351-423. Stuttgart: Klett Cotta.

Koselleck, R. 1984. The unknown future and the art of predicting. At theSociology and Social Development,edition B. Lutz, 45–59. Frankfurt: Campus.

Koselleck R, C Meier, J Fisch and N Bulst. 1984. Revolution. ANDhistorical concepts,Ed. O. Brunner, W. Conze and R. Koselleck, 5:653-788. Stuttgart: Klett Cotta.

Krug, WT [1832–38] 1969.General dictionary of philosophical sciences. vols. 1 and 2. 2nd ed., reprint. Stuttgart: Frommann-Holzboog.

Laemmli, F. 1962.From chaos to cosmos. Swiss Contributions to Classical Studies, vol. 10. Basel: F. Reinhardt.

Lenski, G. and J. Lenski. 1970.human societies. . . . Nova York: McGraw.

Lévi-Strauss, 1962.wild thinking. Paris: Plon.

Louch, AR 1966.Explanation and human action.. Oxford: Blackwell.

Lowith, K. 1953.World history and salvation.. Stuttgart: Kohlhammer.

Lubbe, H. 1965.Secularization: history of a political idea-concept. Freiburg: Alber.

Lubbe, H. 1977.history and interest in history. Basel: Swabia.

Luhmann, N. 1975a. Interaction, organization, society. At thesociological illustration,by N. Luhmann, 2: 9-20. Opladen: West German Publisher.

Luhmann, N. 1975b. World time and system history. At thesociological illustration,by N. Luhmann, 2:103-33. Opladen: West German Publisher.

Luhmann, N. 1978. Complexity Timing. Noof sociocybernetics,edition R. Felix Geyer and Johannes van der Zouwen, 2: 95–111. Leiden: Kluwer Academic.

Luhmann, N. and semantic structure. Volumes 1 e 2. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp.

Luhmann, N. systems. Frankfurt: Suhrkamp.

Lyotard, JF 1984.the postmodern condition. Paris: midnight.

Machiavelli, Nicholas. [1532] 1962.The prince. . . . New York: Airmont.

Meier, C. 1975. History II.historical concepts,Ed. O. Brunner, W. Conze and R. Koselleck, 2:595-610. Stuttgart: Ulett-Cotta.

Meier, C. 1978. Questions and theses about a theory of historical processes. At thehistorical processes,Ed. K.-G. Faber and C. Meier, 11-66. Munich: German paperback publisher.

Meinecke, F. 1959a.factories. vol. 3,The Rise of Historicism. . . . ed. C Hinrichs. Stugarda: Oldenburg.

Meinecke, F. 1959b.factories. vol. 4,On the theory and philosophy of history. ed. E. Kessel, Stuttgart: Oldemburgo.


Montesquieu, Charles de. [1758] 1950.Complete Works of the Spirit of the Laws. Edited by André Masson. Flight. 1st reprint. Paris: Fine Letters.

Munch, R. 1982.action theory. Frankfurt: Suhrkamp.

Oevermann, U. 1973. On analyzing the structure of social patterns of interpretation. Johann Wolfgang Goethe University, Frankfurt am Main.

Olafson, F. A. 1970. Narrative history and the concept of plot.history and theory9: 265–89.

Parsons, T. 1951.the social system. Glencoe, Illinois: Free Press.

Shepherd. 1967. A paradigm for the analysis of social systems and change. At thesystem, change and conflict,Ed. NJ Demerath III e RA Petersen, 189-212. Nova York: Free Press.

Pufendorf, S. F. v. [1744] 1967.On natural and international law. ed. Q. Mascovio. Reprint in 2 volumes. Frankfurt am Main: Minerva.

Riedel, M. 1975. Civil Society. At thehistorical concepts,Ed. O. Brunner, W. Conze and R. Koselleck, 2:719-800. Stuttgart: Klett Cotta.

Roedgers, K. 1983. The origin of the process idea from the spirit of chemistry.Concept history archive27: 93–157.

Sahlins, MD e ED. 1960development and culture. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.

Canhoneira, W. 1979.The development of western rationalism. . . . Charm: JCB Mohr.

Canhoneira, W. 1980.World domination rationalism: studies on Max Weber. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp.

Schmid, M. change theory. Opladen: West German Publisher.

Schmid, M. 1986. Time and social change. At theTime as a structuring element of the world of life and society,Ed. F. Fürstenberg e I. Mörth, 259–306. Opladen: editorial de Alemania Occidental.

Seneca, JA 1969.of providence. Nophilosophical writings,Ed. Manfred Rosenbach, 1:1-42. Darmstadt: Society for Scientific Books.

Smith, A. 1973.The concept of social change.. Londres: Routledge und Kegan Paul.

Troeltsch, E. 1913. The meaning of the concept of contingency. At thecollected writings,2:769–78. Charm: JCB Mohr.

Turner, J. 1974.The structure of sociological theory. Homewood, Illinois: Dorsey Press.

Walch, J.G. [1726] 1968. Naturel der Völker. Ephilosophical lexicon. . . . 4th edition 2: col. 233rd reprint. Hildesheim: Olms.

Weber, M. [1920] 1963.Collected essays on the sociology of religion.. . . . vol. 1. Piping: JCB Mohr.

White, Los Angeles 1959.The evolution of culture. . . . Nova York: McGraw.

Zedler, JH 1735.Great complete universal lexicon. Vol. 10. Halle/Leipzig: Zedler.

Zedler, JH 1743.Great complete universal lexicon. Vol. 38. Halle/Leipzig: Zedler.


Contradictions and social evolution:
A theory of the social evolution of modernity

Klaus Eder

1. A critique of modernization theory

1.1. Keywords: differentiation and rationalization

Classical modernization theory is based on the general evolutionary assumption that modernization is the result of differentiation and rationalization. However, to what extent these processes are necessary aspects of modernization is an open question. The discussion about modernization must, at least, ask to what extent dedifferentiation and derationalization are also developmental processes that characterize modern societies.[1]If these counterprocesses can be shown to be part of modernization, then differentiation and rationalization are just two of the many possible outcomes of the evolution of modern society. They then lose the explanatory power attributed to them in classical modernization theory.

The real problem is that differentiation and rationalization are not variables that explain modernization, but processes that need to be explained. In other words, I propose that differentiation and rationalization are not causes but effects of modernization. My strategy is to look for the processes that create and reproduce these effects. The theoretical starting point is the search for the modus operandi, a structure that generates

[1] For more recent contributions to modernization theory in terms of differentiation, see Smelser 1985 and Luhmann 1982; on modernization theory in terms of rationalization, see Habermas 1981 and Schluchter 1981, among others. Reenchantment appeals (among many others) can be found in Berman 1984 and Moscovici 1976.


Modernism, and then by the opus operatum, that is, differentiation and rationalization as possible results.[2]

I begin by restating two classic problems of sociological theorizing. The first is Durkheim's problem of relating the process of social differentiation to the conditions that produce it.[3]How does differentiation occur? What forces underline the process? Durkheim's answer is unsatisfactory: he regards population growth and increasing social density as central causal variables for the progressive dissolution of collective consciousness (and the resulting individualization). Ultimately, then, the key to explaining modernization is demography, something non-social (but, as you know, socially produced!).

The second problem is Weber's problem of relating rationalization processes to the social conditions that give rise to them.[4]How does rationalization come about? Weber gives a historical answer. He identifies specific social groups as carriers of the process and then relates them to general social structures, ie, the state, class and power system. Modernization is thus explained by the more or less contingent historical emergence of certain social groups. For Weber, it is history that explains modernization.

The alternative theoretical approach to Durkheim and Weber is that of Marx. Marx's theory holds that evolutionary change in society (a change conceptualized by later theorists as differentiation and rationalization) is the product, first, of contradictions between the productive forces and the social relations of production and, second, of contradictions between the relations of production. social. strata. Ultimately, contradictions are the causes of modernization.[5]

In the Marxist theoretical framework, social development is a process based on two types of contradictions. The first type is the contradiction between social actors, that is, the conflict between social classes. As long as contradictions are understood as contradictions between social groups, the theory explains the development of society through genuinely social factors. The second type refers to a more abstract concept of

[2] This macrosociological approach to the conditions that generate society is dominant in French sociology. For two (very different) versions, see Touraine 1977 and Bourdieu 1984. From the latter I draw the distinction between modus operandi and opus operatum.

[3] Alexander (in this volume) describes this Durkheimian problem as one of the relationships between general models, social processes and historical analyzes of specific strains and strains. The May chapter can be read as an attempt to link these levels.

[4] For a treatment of Weber's problem, see Canyoner 1979, 1981. In addition to Weber, Canyoner attempts to develop the general rationalization model, more or less leaving aside the issue of process and historical analysis.

[5] See Godelier 1973 for a systematic discussion of Marx's distinction between levels of contradiction.


contradiction. In it, social structures, not social actors, are seen as contradictory.[6]The design of social structures must set in motion the evolution of society. This abstract use of the concept of contradiction has become relatively important in recent theoretical thinking: contradictions between systems are seen as situations that can self-block and contradictions within systems as creating incompatible functions that systems fulfill.[7]

But these functionalist reinterpretations run the risk of falling into an analytic nominalism devoid of social theory. I consider communication theory a more promising theoretical approach to reinterpreting the Marxist approach to explaining social change because it is more appropriate for the study of modernization than functionalist and neofunctionalist reinterpretations of Marx. In communication theory, the analyst can give a systematic place to the notion of contradiction.[8]The concept of contradiction is thus reformulated to become the starting point for a more adequate modernization theory.

1.2. Evolutionary theory and modernization

I propose the following preliminary theoretical assumption: Contradictions are mechanisms that initiate or perpetuate communication. As societies are the most complex communication system, contradictions can be treated as mechanisms for the evolution of such systems.[9]This hypothesis involves a theory of evolution that goes beyond the old alternative of epigenetic mysticism and Darwinian functionalism.[10]He takes contradictions as a mechanism that produces modernization processes, such as (functional) differentiation and rationalization.

[6] This concept of structural contradiction has often been criticized as "objectivist". One such criticism is found in Habermas 1979, who links this type of contradiction to the problem of system integration as opposed to social integration. See also Sahlins 1976, who distinguishes two "historical materialisms", one of which is guilty of Objectivist sin.

[7] Ver Sjoeberg 1960. Offe 1972.

[8] A systematic treatment of the concept of contradiction can be found in Elster 1978, (especially chapters 4 and 5); Luhmann 1984, (488ff.); Miller 1986, (especially 296ff.).

[9] Evolution should not be understood as the change of society or some of its subsystems -that would be a case of improper specification- but as the evolution of the structures that regulate the composition of the system (and its subsystems). Such structures are believed to be at the level of evolutionary social structures that regulate communication.

[10] Differences between Darwinian and epigenetic theories can be traced back to differences in the concept of contradiction. Evolution is understood as the resolution of contradictions between systems and their environment (the old Darwinian explanatory strategy) or it is understood as the resolution of a general contradiction underlying human history (an idea related to early progressive thinking in social theory).


This hypothesis fundamentally changes the evolutionary assumptions that underlie modernization theory. I am discussing two modifications here. First, modernization theory should not be tied to the notion of a fixed, unidirectional development path towards modern society. Differentiation is not an explanatory variable, just a descriptive category that says that there are more and more fields of conflict and social struggle. Therefore, differentiation must be described as a structural by-product of the collective practices that produce a modern social order. Second, modernization theory should not be tied to the notion of a self-directed force (eg, reason or unreason) driving social development. Rather, rationalization is the cultural by-product of collective practices that construct cultural order through learning processes and symbolic struggles, which together establish legitimate authority and generate the symbols society needs to reproduce itself as a legitimate social order. .

As a replacement for the two evolutionary assumptions that modernization is self-propelled and unidirectional,[11]I propose the idea that contradictions open divergent and even irreconcilable paths of development. There is no prescribed route to and through modernity. There are as many paths to modernity as there are historical developments. Therefore, modernization theory cannot be constructed conceptualizing its outcome, only conceptualizing how this modern order is produced.

The problem then is to conceptualize and explain the social production of modern society. The conception I propose is threefold. First, it proposes to consider the learning processes of those social groups that create a new collective consciousness, that is, political and social ideas, to guide individual and collective social action.[12]However, since these learning processes are part of a larger historical context, we must also look beyond this.

Second, we must consider the idea of ​​class conflict. Class conflicts must be conceptualized at the level of the status and power system. To reproduce a given system of status and power, social classes strive to classify and reclassify each other whenever possible. They struggle to have "right" on their side. The symbolic universe of law, the idea of ​​morality, sometimes even universal morality, must be mobilized to guarantee the reproduction of the class structure.[13]

[11] For an analysis of the pitfalls of the old theories of evolution, see Habermas 1979. For a critique of Habermas's alternative, see Schmid 1982. But the alternative proposed by Schmid (1982) also remains unsatisfactory.

[12] The following discussion is an attempt to place the formal structures of learning processes, as described by Miller 1986, in a historical context. For a detailed discussion, see Eder 1985a.

[13] The role of the symbolic dimension in Marxist thought has already been elaborated by Godelier. For a brief and instructive description see Godelier 1978. For an interesting theoretical reformulation of this problem see Bourdieu 1984.


Third, my account examines how differentiation and rationalization are related to the evolution of modernity. I explain them as structural by-products, that is, the combined effects, of learning processes and class conflicts, which in turn reproduce these original conditions. Learning processes and class conflicts alter the social and cultural dimensions of society's structure. They lead to what Weber called differentiation and rationalization.spheres of value.[14]This modern distinction between moral, aesthetic, and theoretical symbols limits the possible images of a legitimate social order to the sphere of morality. In modern times, this differentiation of the moral sphere (which is probably the most important structurally) can no longer be based on a sacred order, i.e., a hierarchy, but only on the abstract and formalist conception of a social order that is based on the same approval of its membership.

With this theoretical program, the reformulation of the concept of contradiction in communication theory should allow reviewing the theoretical assumptions on which the conceptualization of differentiation and rationalization as a way of modernization is based and offer new justifications for the description of modernization processes. And, at a more general level, it should allow for a revision of the implicit evolutionary assumptions of modernization theory.

In the following sections, I discuss how the concept of social production in modernity can be fruitful in a systematic (non-historical) reconstruction of development processes in modern society. First, I analyze the role of learning processes in the social production of modern society. These processes occur first in "enlightened societies" (Enlightenment Societies) which call themselves "associations" to distinguish themselves from "corporations" and business groups in traditional society such as unions, state companies, etc. These associations contain the elementary structures of specifically modern collective learning processes. Next, I try to locate this new type of evolutionary association within the social fabric of early modern society. Here, the peculiarities of modern social classes and the corresponding class conflict become the analytical focus.

This analysis then allows me to describe the evolution of modern society as generated through processes of learning and class conflict and reproduced through processes of differentiation and rationalization. Differentiation is the key part of the mechanism that reproduces these generative conditions. But the differentiation itself is insufficient; it must also mobilize symbolic resources to further reproduce the differentiation.

[14] See Habermas 1981, who uses Weber's distinction ofspheres of valueby its very attempt to distinguish between different constituents of irreducible validity of communicative action.


Rationalization is the process that produces the symbolic resources necessary for this reproduction. The analysis of the reproduction of modernization through differentiation and rationalization provides the first answers to two central problems of modernization theory: the problem of alternative paths of modernization and the problem of the rationality of these different paths of modernization.

2. The social production of modernity

2.1. association and communication

Since the beginning of modernity, certain social groups, characterized by an evolutionarily new form of communication, initiated significant modernization processes. Such groups attempt to organize themselves according to the principles of discursive and equitable dispute resolution.[quince]Ideally, this type of discourse is based on the free and equal exchange of arguments, that is, on thelighting(Lightning). Associations are the social contexts in which this new type of evolutionary discourse can occur.

I want to distinguish between three historical manifestations of associations in modern society. The first is related to the emergence of groups that identify themselves as bearers of the Enlightenment since the 18th century.[sixteen]Within these groups, social and political life is discussed in a fundamentally different way than in the past. This form of collective discussion, which is learned in small political and private associations, forces these associations to a hierarchically independent self-description. Instead, they begin to describe themselves as part of a social movement, asEnlightenment Movement.

A second historical manifestation of the modern type of association is found in the labor movement.[17]The discussion culture of the labor movement continues the tradition of the Enlightenment. The difference between labor movement unions and earlier Enlightenment unions lies in the content of the discussion. Organized discourse in working-class associations allows acquiring the necessary competence

[15] This observation should not be confused with the claim that these associations actually worked that way. I only claim that these principles define the structural model of these associations.

[16] Important descriptions of this phenomenon are Nipperdey 1972 and Koselleck [1959] 1973. For a systematic sociological treatment, see Eder 1985a, (67ff.).

[17] The idea of ​​treating the labor movement as a collective learning process is an old idea in the socialist tradition. See for example. B. Na'aman 1978 and Vester 1907, who use this concept for a reconstruction of the labor movement; see also Thompson 1978. Tilly 1978 is also relevant in this context.


Organize workers as a collective social force. Thus, the specific social experiences of workers changed the content, but not the form, of the discourse of eighteenth-century associations.

A third historical manifestation of the modern type of association are the associations that have arisen among the lower middle classes since the end of the last century. But the social experiences these “middle classes” need for an autonomous discourse only emerged in the second half of the twentieth century, when the old petty bourgeoisie was complemented and strengthened by a new petty bourgeoisie.[18]this is the result of the growing professionalization of work. The associations of these new social groups now call themselves "new" social movements. These new associations defend a private “lifeworld” distinct from both the just society defended by the working class and the public sphere defended by the bourgeoisie.The citizens. This new living environment is your private world. their own mental and physical integrity. Thus, the specific experiences of these groups modify the content of the discourse, but do not modify its logic.

A reflective approach to communication is practiced in all these groups. When people learn to communicate through communication, they revolutionize the traditional order. The evolution of modern society comes to depend on communication, which is the object of communicative relations. Reflexivity in communication is the starting point for the social production of modern society. Those involved in modern clubs know that they are participating in a collective learning process. at theEnlightenment Societies18th century (the Jacobin clubs were their radical variants), thelabor education associationsof the 19th century (the workers' self-training clubs) and the therapy groups of the late 20th century, the learning function became part of the communication process. The mechanism that constituted modern associations since the eighteenth century can therefore be defined as discursive communication.[19]

The form of communication practiced in these clubs throughout modernity changes the form and content of the learning processes that take place in these clubs. Thus, the idea of ​​a new evolutionary learning is the theoretical key to the cultural consequences of the emergence of associations since the beginning of modern society. Cultural change in modern society occurs through a collective learning process, whose logic is determined by the logic of discursive communication.

[18] For a controversial discussion of the socio-structural underpinnings of new social movements, see Offe 1985; Bourdieu 1984.

[19] The concept of discursive communication was elaborated by Habermas (1981). The following text can also be read as an application of this type of sociological theorizing to modernization theory.


Cultural change is therefore linked to the logic of modern discourse.

2.2. collective learning processes

The constitutive element of discursive communication is a "generative" or "deep" structure. This structure is determined by two principles: equality and discursive conflict management. The logic of discursive communication is structured according to the principles that we attribute as central to modernity.[20]The underlying logic of modern discourse thus allows for learning processes that are fundamentally different from traditional ones. These modern learning processes are based on the principle of constantly testing the universalizability of the normative order of civil society. Its mechanism is the resolution of contradictions through argumentation or "criticism". They are modeled according to the logic of a universalization procedure.

A universalization procedure is defined as impartial consideration by all involved. The basic structure of an impartial judgment is "more geometric equality". More geometric equality means considering only the behavioral manifestation of an action, not its motives or circumstances. This basic structure must then be applied to a specific case. First, justice can be described as giving everyone an equal opportunity to act in their own best interest. This condition is equality of opportunity. A second way to build a level playing field is to distribute opportunities for action so that all possible positions within the distribution are acceptable to everyone. This condition is equality of different opportunities for action. The logical structure of operation of the principle of equal consideration for all becomes logically more complex in both cases. In the first case, it applies to an abstract other; in the second case, the relevant other becomes someone with conflicting needs, a situation that must be taken into account in the universalization process. On the way from the first to the second level, the hypothetical operation takes into account additional empirical parameters. The problems inherent in these approaches lead to a third way of describing justice: the unequal distribution of opportunities to claim the universality of desires and interests in a process of collective discussion. This condition is the equality of communicative relations.

Thus, we can distinguish three stages in the development of the logic of

[20] For an interesting theoretical treatment of the civil society model, see Dumont 1967, 1970. For an early treatment of its discursive aspects, see Habermas 1962. For a systematic use of both terms to reconstruct modernization processes, see .).


universalization[21]which has been the basis of collective learning processes since the 18th century. the form of communication invented and practiced by the first associations (enlightenment societies) became the basis of the model of modern society. That model is civil society. This model establishes the characteristics of association - equal rights to freedom of thought, freedom of expression and association - as fundamental to civil society. The better this complex learning is organized, the more the idea of ​​democratic organization of civil society is radicalized in the postulate of the democratic organization of society's well-being. This idea culminates in the idea of ​​the democratic realization of good living through civil society.[22]The theoretical thesis is that these increasingly complex forms of civil society are embodiments of the logic of learning processes that have been taking place since the 18th century. This development can then be conceptualized as a manifestation of collective learning processes, having as a fundamental mechanism the logic of universalization.

23. Social class and class conflict.

The concept of discursive communication is insufficient to explain the establishment of a social order in modern society, since discursive communication cannot control its institutional environment. On the contrary, it sometimes even serves purposes contrary to its intentions. Associations don't just exist in the air of a discussion. As part of a larger social context, they are not independent of the system of power inherent in the social order. They are linked to an institutional structure. And within this institutional framework, the universe of symbols produced by discursive communication is used for legitimation purposes. To apprehend this aspect of the social reality of modern society, we must look for the social struggles that accompany and control the processes of discursive communication.

Associations are part of the class structure of society. It is here that contradiction as a mechanism of class struggle comes into play. Class conflicts thus constitute a social reality beyond the collective learning processes initiated in associations. This social reality was described

[21] Habermas' (1981) theory of communicative action can be read as a theoretical program for the reconstruction of such universalization processes. A theoretical solution to the problem of the logic of development is the idea of ​​a permanent social contract (Eder 1986a). This solution offers an alternative to Kohlberg's (1981) psychological conception of the logic of development. See also Eder 1985a (67ff.); Tugendhat 1980.

[22] For a discussion of the development of democratic rights, see Marshall's classic work (1950). But one should not forget that these ideals are drawn from the theoretical work of intellectuals more or less linked to the various social and political groups and movements that make up modern society.


since the beginning of the 19th century as a reality structured according to specific class possibilities and rights. Whether such classes correspond to particular groups is a matter of debate.[23]But in modern societies, class has become a specific way of describing social differences in society. The extent to which implicit self-description is appropriate varies historically.

Since the 18th century, the classification of the objective positions that separate the social classes follows a different logic from the previous classification of the estates. The transition of modern society to a new logic of order was the result of the liberation of the social order from traditional ties and was part of the process of commercialization of agriculture and handicrafts. The new social order differed from traditional ties because the unifying hegemony of the church was broken.[24]Without the church, a society without religious ties emerged. To replace hierarchical classification, a new classification system had to be incorporated into the social structure.

During the transformation of traditional society into early modern society, social relations remained organized around patron-client ties. Class relations were established, as Thompson says,[25]between patrician and plebeian culture. Patrician culture was organized around the idea of ​​autonomy and self-determination in private life. However, popular culture was organized as a "moral economy". The moral economy was opposed to the market economy; He defended "fair" prices against market prices and the principle of concrete reciprocity against the principle of subjective rights. Using the example of England in the eighteenth century, the structure of these class relations can be described as reciprocity between the nobility and the masses.[26]The nobility, defined as an educated culture distinct from the more common culture of the masses, had the classic means of control: the majesty and terror of the law and the symbolism of its cultural hegemony. Both contributed to the theatrical representation of patrician culture. However, the mob had the elements of a traditional culture: the

[23] For a new sociological view of class, see Luhmann 1985. Luhmann treats classes as emerging from processes that make interactive relations increasingly secondary to social structure. But his discussion suffers because he confuses class structure and differentiation with stratification.

[24] For the example in English, see Thompson 1978 (133ff.).

[25] Thompson 1974 (382 anos ss.).

[26] For this “cultural” definition of class relations, see Thompson 1974 (397-98). This definition is framed in contrast to the very narrow and economic definitions of class society. The same goes for Calhoun 1982. It is important to see not just "class" but also "class relations". This point was emphasized by Kumar (1983), who points out that class grievances cannot be explained if classes are viewed as isolated entities with no relation to other classes.


moral economy. Struggles between social classes remained struggles to rebuild the good old society and struggles between traditional status groups. Thus, the conflict between these class cultures functioned as a bridge between the old and the new.

Once class struggle is identified in relation to the social organization of industrial work, the classification underlying class struggle becomes more clearly defined. Social classification begins to be thought of as a result of individual effort. But the classification of social reality is still reduced to a dichotomy: the contradiction between capital and work. Classes are built around the contradiction between who sells wage labor and who buys it.[27]But unlike the pre-industrial phase of modern society, both factors, capital and labor, are defined independently of cultural or political characteristics. Culture and politics become the superstructure, something really secondary in describing the class structure of industrial society. However, the advancement of modern society has challenged this dichotomy.

Subsequently, with the disappearance of the industrial development model and the emergence of the "post-industrial" society, a new contradiction arises between the social groups that defend technocratic progressivism and those that defend a communicative world of life. Today the class struggle is transformed into a fluid antagonism that affects all spheres of social life. Class conflict also widened over time; it became a permanent class conflict. The social reality created by this permanence is a classification system that radicalizes the individualistic premises of the modern classification system. This classification system, which compares individuals and accounts for their capital (both economic and cultural), leads to the highly individualized class structure of modern society.[28]

This way of classifying people creates a power imbalance between social groups that needs to be shown to be normal; the diversion must be considered legitimate.[29]Class conflicts are necessarily accompanied by practices that create the legitimizing symbolic order. The purpose of

[27] This interpretation of classes differs from the notion that classes are concrete social groups. Rather than trying to identify the groups that make up a class, my theoretical approach constructs classes theoretically and seeks to determine whether these classes actually emerged historically. I suppose that any identity between theoretical constructions and historical lessons will be exceptional.

[28] This development can only be captured by a theoretical approach that constructs classes as groups of indicators shared by individuals. As these indicators diversify, empirical classes are less and less linked to one or several specific social groups. Today, teaching can be described as highly “individualized”. See Beck 1983.

[29] Bourdieu (1980, 1984) has extensively developed the idea of ​​collective illusions as systematically distorted worldviews. Theoretically, this concept is the most interesting sociological reformulation of the old concept of ideology to date.


Legitimation practices consist of making existing relationships between individuals appear as normal relationships. Dissolved in this way, legitimation practices make possible the symbolic reproduction of a society's class structure. The symbols preferred by superiors are those symbols that claim universal validity, because such symbols give the most perfect picture of legitimacy to the class structure of modern society. At the level of class conflict, another logic of cultural change intervenes. Cultural change is not only the result of learning processes, but also the result of class-specific symbolic practices.

2.4. legitimation practices

The production and reproduction of class structures depend on the symbolic practices through which classes seek to maintain their differences. For this, symbolic resources are used to legitimize the class structure.[30]Class conflict creates not only a social relationship, but also a symbolic one. This symbolic relationship serves as a specific mechanism to organize and reorganize the symbolic universe that legitimizes modern society. A look at modern times may clarify this point.

In the 16th and 17th centuries, newly formed princes and parliaments attempted to break down the sovereignty of religious authority by positing a new basis of legitimacy for political government: the good of the people.[31]This secular basis of power legitimized the absolute sovereignty of the king or the representative sovereignty of the estates. The mob still lived in the old world of moral economy, culturally opposed both to the world of the absolute prince and to the world of the new estates. The ensuing struggles on a symbolic level were struggles between the modern world and the traditional world. Thus, the symbolic practice of the absolutist state (constructed as the practice of the rule of law) contrasted with the symbolic order of traditional life (defined as the practice of customary law) defended by the popular classes.

At the beginning of the industrial revolution, a new symbolic struggle field was added. The dominance of the old class cultures was broken by the rising bourgeoisie, which transcended this cultural world with its idea of ​​an individualistic and competitive society.

[30] For a systematic treatment of processes of classification in modern societies, see Bourdieu 1984. My analysis implies a critique of Touraine's central assumption that the concept of society as a description of modern social life is no longer adequate. Touraine's idea of ​​focusing social theory on a modified version of class conflict is not enough to deal with developmental processes in cultural representations of society. For this perspective, see Touraine 1981.

[31] Hintze's complete work (1970) remains the best systematic analysis of this period. For a more recent treatment, see Mousnier 1974, 1980.


"Industry." It was legitimized by a radically individualistic ethic, the Protestant work ethic and its telos of infinite maximization and perfection. This class transformed the individualistic society of a market economy into the symbolic world shared by the upper and lower classes. Legitimation practices based on this world of symbols led to the model of class relations that was created in 19th century Europe between the labor movement on the one hand and the organizations of industrial elites on the other. This model conceived this relationship as a game between interest groups trying to maximize power and interests.[32]She saw the capital-labor relationship as a bargaining relationship. This symbolic world created the necessary illusion for the reproduction of this individualistic and competitive society. This illusion helped to reproduce, at least temporarily, the class structure of modern society in its industrial phase of development.

The dynamics of development in advanced industrial societies once again change their symbolic battleground. The world of unlimited development of industrial productive forces is replaced by a new legitimizing practice: programming the economic, cultural and social reproduction of society. The cultural world objected to such a broad program developed in both the working class and the bourgeoisie. This development took the form of a romantic culture that emphasized naturalistic sentiments as opposed to the "coldness" of modern economic and political life. In late modern society, a new "green" philosophy that seeks to develop a different moral image of the good world continues this tradition of a culture opposed to a world controlled by the bureaucratic welfare state. The "new" social movements explicitly reject the welfare state; Instead, they talk about health, green nature and aesthetics and generalize the idea of ​​"the good life" in all areas.[33]The resulting symbolic struggles between different “moderns”, that is, between modernity and romanticism, legitimize a society with a highly individualized class structure.

The winners of these symbolic battles try to create the image of defending universal claims. Claiming universalism is, at least in modern societies, the most promising strategy for reproducing a certain class structure in society. If symbolic struggles lead to the legitimate definition of the symbolic world of the upper classes, the lower classes must see their own existence as illegitimate. The degree

[32] For a history of the labor movement from a union perspective, see Kendall 1975.

[33] The new social movements manifest a conflict about what kind of professional knowledge should be used for the reproduction of society. See Eder, 1982. On the green movement, see Galtung, 1986. Theories of post-industrial societies, with the exception of Touraine, 1981, generally ignore this point.


of legitimacy becomes the point of reference to distinguish social groups. The history of legitimizing practices[34]It is, therefore, the key to understanding the processes that make up the symbolic universe of modern class society.

The symbolic universe of law offers an exemplary case of the processes of legitimizing the class structure of modern society. On the one hand, legal norms determine the objective classification of judicial claims. On the other hand, the law has symbolic power because it claims to have morality on its side.[35]Law is a mechanism used in different contexts for the symbolic reproduction of an institutional order. To analyze this function of the symbolic universe of law, I use examples from the history of legal and political thought.[36]

In the early sixteenth century, both traditions adopted the new premise that there was no longer any metaphysical order on which to base political and social life, and that the anthropological nature of man was the fundamental fact. These new premises emerged from the reflexive structure of modern social thought: social thought became dependent on the thinker (and his nature) as such. Hobbes's Leviathan and the radical Puritan covenant theories are examples of this radically new kind of social thinking; they mark the beginning of the evolution of modern representations of society.

The symbolic authority of the modern legal order rests on these new normative foundations. There are three key ideas: the idea of ​​maintaining order through the rule of law; the idea that the function of the state is to maximize the welfare of its constituents; and the idea that a good way of life must be defended against the consequences of unbridled progressivism. Order, well-being and the good life are the normative foundations of the symbolic authority of modern law.

The images of a legal order built on such principles are the most effective mechanisms for creating the necessary illusion for the reproduction of society. The more complex the social structure of modern society becomes, the more complex these images become. The first idea, the idea of ​​a formal legal order based on the universalist principle of reason of State, structures and legitimizes the absolutist one.

[34] For a sociological account of the history of social movements and cultural struggles in modern society, see Eder 1986b. See also Eisenstadt 1981 and his contribution to this volume, which focuses on the complementary aspect of elites.

[35] The old and controversial problem of the relationship between morality and law is here reformulated. For the classic sociological treatment, see Durkheim 1950.

[36] For a history of political thought that takes this perspective, see Skinner 1978. For the history of law, see the rich German literature of the 19th century. For the sociological use of this literature, see Eder 1985a (329ff., 396ff.).


State that put an end to religious wars by ensuring indifference to religious and social differences, thus creating order through law. The second idea of ​​the legal order takes into account the fact that the modern State took over the regulation of the economic sphere, which was previously inserted in traditional ways of life. The telos of a legal order is the maximization of a society's welfare through law. The third idea arises from the dysfunctional consequences of maximizing social welfare. Since perfect order is no longer established by regulative law, "progress" must be corrected, or rather planned, "by the people." The law then distributes opportunities to help shape society. Law, conceived primarily as procedural law, becomes the embodiment of democratic faith.[37]

Against the majesty of that law, the lower classes mobilize a civilized world beyond the law or - and this is the normal case - submit to the law, accept its authority and thus contribute to its authority. Thus, law is one of the most important mechanisms for legitimizing class structures. Legal practices are the most important among the symbolic practices that reproduce the power structure of society.

3. The evolution of modernity

3.1. The social reproduction of modernity

In the previous section, I laid the groundwork for a theory of modern social production. I have identified the mechanism that sets the processes of social and cultural change in motion, but I have not yet described the specific nature of the processes set in motion. The processes of social and cultural change that traditional modernization theory considers crucial are differentiation (functional) and rationalization (formal). Whether these are the main trends of change in the wake of modernization is a question that must now be answered. My answer has two aspects. First, differentiation and rationalization may follow paths different from those attributed to them by classical modernization theory. Second, there are differences in the "functionality" and "rationality" of these processes that must be made explicit.

The first of these processes, differentiation, is a structural arrangement for dealing with the functional consequences of two types of modernizing forces: modern associations and modern class structures. This structural arrangement must reflect these generative forces. Otherwise, the update cannot continue. Thus, within my theoretical framework, differentiation can be defined as the social reproduction mechanism of

[37] A brief description of the stages of legalization can be found in Habermas 1981 (2:527ff.).


these modernizing forces. A theory of differentiation describes how the opus operatum reproduces the modus operandi.

Classical modernization theory holds that differentiation in modern societies follows the path of functional differentiation, a path different from the traditional path of stratified differentiation. The decisive innovation is the functional autonomy, through which the structural arrangements can be adapted equally and without external restrictions.[38]the functional consequences of modernization mechanisms. Functional differentiation enables this adaptation by separating and multiplying the fields in which the construction of modern society can take place.

Differentiation thus allows modern societies to accommodate learning processes and class struggles by structurally separating the specific areas of action that are the object of these collective actions. For example, the economic system and the religious system have specific ways of functioning to deal with the consequences of modernization activities. The economic class struggle is no longer logically adapted to be carried out in the religious realm (as in traditional society). But there are still social struggles within the religious sphere, for example in conflicts between religious professionals and the lay public. Specific class conflicts arise in the economic sphere and manifest themselves in the gap between capital and labor. And there are similar struggles in the political and cultural fields. The most compelling example is the effect of differentiating the education system from other systems. The modern educational system reproduces the class structure of modern society much more efficiently than before, while ensuring the cognitive capacities that a complex modern society needs for its reproduction.[39]Functional differentiation is the mechanism by which ruling elites reproduce their positions in an increasingly complex modern society.

But this differentiation is not a dominant trend; It is the tendency of teachers. This observation implies that there is more than one form of differentiation in modern society. I propose that functional differentiation reproduces the structure of classes by creating a characteristic structure for classes.

[38] The concept of "accommodation" was proposed by Smelser (1985, 124). This concept allows developing a more adequate idea of ​​the functionality or “success” of the differentiation.

[39] The functional differentiation of class conflict is often seen as the end of class conflict. However, this notion assumes a realistic definition of a class, that is, it implies that we already know what a class consists of. I argue that differentiation allows class structures to be reproduced. The best example of this phenomenon is the role of the educational system. For the reproductive role of the differentiated educational system, see Bourdieu 1984.


Formation of relatively autonomous elites and the deformation of the people as clients of these elites. Whether or not dedifferentiation occurs depends on whether social forces are strong enough to lift their confinement to specific rational elite social spaces and redefine the social space in which they operate. Such de-differentiation mobilizes class conflicts that generate collective action beyond the established communication networks to include those who still do not communicate with each other.[40]

Anyone who argues that elite formation is the most important function of structural arrangements must therefore argue for functional differentiation. Those who argue that organizing the collective interests of the lower classes is the most important function must argue against functional differentiation. Functional differentiation is ultimately a choice, not a destination. It is a possible modernization trend, but not necessary. Using it as a main trend implies a value judgment. Giving it theoretical distinction contributes to its "rational" image.

3.2. The cultural reproduction of modernity

The ability of functional differentiation to dominate the modernization process depends on its ability to reproduce the image of an egalitarian social order. This means that a second form of reproduction in modern society must be taken into account: rationalization enables the cultural reproduction of modernity.

As I have already indicated, rationalization in modern society is the result of a dual cultural production: learning processes and practices that legitimize class distinctions. Collective learning processes constitute the discourse in which modernity becomes possible. Symbolic practices try to mobilize the discursive universe produced in these learning processes to legitimize existing distributions and positions of power in modern society. The rationalization mechanism is firstly the discourse in associative life and secondly the interest of social strata in legitimizing their own position and illegitimating the positions of others.

Rationalization is the result of two sets of conditions and can take different forms. What is true of differentiation is also true of rationalization: there is more than one form of rationalization in modern society. Rationalization is possible both through deception and through

[40] An interesting concept that attempts to mediate between differentiation and dedifferentiation is the concept of "unequal" differentiation. See Colomy 1985. But ultimately he remains committed to the elitist perspective, supplemented by the idea that there must be structures that offer sanctuary or refuge to critical (ie powerless) elites.


the reenchantment of the world.[41]The social prerequisites for difference are the differences between the high and low cultures of modern society; both cultures rationalize differently. Their differences consist in the different uses of the symbolic resources available to a society. There are two ideal types of rationalization: disenchantment, which concerns the dominant groups in society, and reenchantment, which concerns the dominated groups. Both processes produce different images of the modern world, images I call "official" and "unofficial." What appears from a Weberian perspective as a historical vacillation between rationality and irrationality can be seen as a rivalry between an official and an unofficial mode of rationalization. This difference became fundamental for the decision on the direction of modernization.

One of the best examples of the official version of rationality is legal rationality. However, there are other symbolic universes based on this type of rationality. For example, the symbolic universe of political discourse and that of scientific discourse contribute in their specific ways to the official rationality of modern society. The rationalization brought about by these forms of rationality ends, as Weber argued, in disillusionment.[42]

Rationalization occurs differently when strong cultural movements challenge socially accepted practices and ways of thinking, that is, their hegemonic symbolic order.[43]Such movements can be caused by psychological or ecological crises that cannot be resolved by purely political or economic means. Rationalizations that take a different tack from the official one result in a reenchantment. Whether rationalization really goes in this direction depends on the development paths of such cultural movements.

Reenchantment does not necessarily mean "irrationalization". Reenchantment can be based on ancient symbolic resources of religious orientations.[44]For example, we know to what extent Catholic and Protestant ideas still influence individual and collective decisions on the path of modernization. We know the impact of non-Western religions

[41] The discussion of disenchantment and reenchantment relates primarily to the religious aspects of rationalization. See Tiryakian (this volume). Lechner (1985) also takes reenchantment into account, but reduces the conditions that lead to reenchantment to dissatisfaction, that is, to a negative orientation towards social action. In this way, the elitist theoretical level can be maintained.

[42] These examples of rationalization were identified by Weber. For a systematic discussion of the various aspects of rationalization, see Habermas 1981 (1:114ff.).

[43] Cultural movements and countercultures are a difficult subject for theoretical treatment. for a try see Yinger 1982.

[44] Re-enchantment, understood as the development of post-traditional religion, is a counter-process to the process of secularization. For such a repetition of the concept of secularization, see Werblowsky 1976.


Traditions to the social production process of the modern social order. Weber proposed the difference between this world and other worldly orientations to distinguish between different symbolic logics.

In addition to these religion-based forms of re-enchantment, another form of re-enchantment is the attitude towards nature. This form of re-enchantment challenges the productivist image of modernity, which is a modernity defined by the integration of society into nature. This reenchantment leads to a more moral rationalization, which Weber called "material" rationalization.[45]It questions the dominance of formal rationality and serves, in Weber's view, as a vehicle for irrational rationalization.

But Weber's interpretation is misleading. Both processes are contradictory ways of rationalizing the modern world. In traditional societies, cultural differences center on the poles of orthodoxy and heterodoxy. In modern societies, they revolve around the poles of formal and material rationality. But how do we decide on their respective degrees of rationality?

3.3. could not modernize

The question of rationality arises at both levels of reproduction of modernity: at the level of differentiation and at the level of rationalization. When functional differentiation is replaced by segmental forms of differentiation, a social structure emerges that fails to reproduce the class structure of modern society. Moreover, when rationalization is replaced by a new magical worldview, a cultural system emerges that is incapable of reproducing the collective practices that underlie the production of modernity. In this case, a manifest regression occurs. But can such a development be described as "irrational"? Furthermore, we also face opposing paths of modernization at the levels of differentiation and rationalization. Whether one of these paths is more rational than the other becomes a problem for modernization theory.

The key to these problems is not the theory of differentiation, but the theory of rationalization, because this theory contains the double problem of considering the rationalization of the social order and identifying the criteria for distinguishing what counts as rational. Rationalization theory, then, cannot escape the rationalization process of which it is a part.[46]

[45] The concept of material rationalization was originally developed by Weber using the example of the legal postulates of justice.

[46] The reflexivity built into the idea of ​​rationalization has been discussed by Habermas 1981 (1:106-13).


There are only two ways out of this problem: postulate a substantive normative criterion of rationality or identify the social conditions necessary for rationalization to occur. The first solution is tautological, because such a postulate becomes part of the symbolic struggles that drive rationalization in any direction. The second solution is to see the social conditions of rationalization as "procedural" norms.[47]necessary for rationalization and verify whether and to what extent they are applied.

Reduced to its procedural form, then, the ultimate reason for the rationality of modernity is that we can choose our symbolic orders, that we cannot get bogged down in any kind of rationality, and that we can always renounce what we rationally renounce. accept Whether such a rational result is expected should be treated as an open question. Classical modernization theory seems to have already decided this question by calling modernization rationalization. Below, however, I will show that this modernization is not necessarily rational. Therefore, modernization theory needs to include a more explicit notion of rationality in its conceptual framework. I propose that we look for procedural rationality at the level of conditions that produce what is conventionally called rationalization.

As I have shown, the rationalization of the modern social order depends on two mechanisms. First, rationalization is the net result of social struggles between social classes. Second, these social struggles depend on collective learning processes to reproduce the cultural conditions of their existence. Therefore, two mechanisms are necessary to arrive at a modern social order. Although difficult to achieve, such a social order is even more difficult to reproduce. It must be ensured that learning processes and class conflicts can continue. If there is no reproduction, social development regresses or consolidates. The historical process becomes "pathological". The result of blocked class conflicts and blocked learning processes is the pathogenesis of modernity.[48]

Historically, pathological processes seem to predominate. Collective learning processes are more often blocked than released. Associations become forms of interaction that generate enemies more often than forms that promote learning processes. The history of modern clubs is much more a story of private disputes than a story of learning.

[47] The concept of procedural rules has close connections with communication theory. This point is explored later in this chapter.

[48] ​​The pathogenesis of modernity was the subject of the classic discussion of the "German road to modernity". The central question of this discussion was whether there is a "normal" path to modernity that can be attributed to a country.


The same applies to class conflicts. Class conflicts are often neutralized with populist appeals or reduced to elitist struggle.[49]

In both cases, the result is cultural conflicts that attempt to mobilize either the moral majority or the moral minority. Fascism radicalizes the moral majority: it offers integrative formulas with racist, nationalist or imperialist orientations. Terrorism is the radicalization of a moral minority and is exemplified by the Jacobin terror after the French Revolution, the terror of Stalin and the Khmer Rouge. Whether class conflicts end in fascism or moral terror depends on the cultural logic of a modern society.

This conceptualization allows us to approach the problem of pathological developments in a more promising way. Although associations "learn" and social classes "fight" among themselves, modernization still fails. Nationalism mobilizes expressive resources that are not rationalized by the above factors. Fascism mobilizes feelings that modern political and social movements cannot control. But why do such pathological developments occur? Why are learning processes blocked? Why is class conflict denied? What are the cultural underpinnings that make these outcomes possible?

A preliminary answer to these questions can be given here. Ultimately, the symbolic cosmos in which a society lives seems to determine the success or otherwise of an initiated and implemented modernization. Differences in the degree of class association and conflict in modern societies raise secondary questions: why is there no socialism in the United States? Why is there such a strong tradition of class conflict in England? Factors such as these determine the pace of modernization and the injustice that accompanies it. But they do not block modernization.

So the crucial question is why modernization fails in some societies within this range, at least for a while. This is because there are cultural traditions that dominate at certain stages of modernization. An example is the experience of German modernization in the second half of the 19th century and in the first half of the 20th century.[50]Although modernization began like other European nations, collective learning processes and social struggles over the cultural direction of modernization were blocked in favor of a state-controlled civil society. The State exercised strict control over associations and therefore directed collective learning processes. The State also neutralized the class conflict, thus imposing a symbolic order on it.

[49] This critique of an elitist or populist transformation of class conflicts can be found, for example, in Touraine 1981.

[50] For a discussion of the concept of social pathology, see Eder 1985a; for the idea of ​​blocked learning processes as indicators of social pathology, see Miller 1986.


Modern society. Modern culture was created in an authoritarian way. And as long as this mode of parenting remains dominant, there is the possibility of pathological cultural evolution.

The key to explaining the path of development towards modernity lies, therefore, in learning processes and symbolic practices in the field of culture. These processes and practices determine not only the type of rationalization (disenchantment or reenchantment) that will occur, thus limiting the possibilities of structural differentiation, but also determine the degree of rationality. Therefore, we cannot consider processes contrary to functional differentiation and formal rationalization as mere deviations.[51]outside the path of modernization, but as possible outcomes of modernization. The normality of differentiation and rationalization is not what matters. Rather, the question of normality and pathology is a question of the social conditions that cause differentiation and rationalization. Only by considering the conditions that block collective learning processes and symbolic struggles can we explain pathogenic modes of de-differentiation, disenchantment or re-enchantment.

The current description of modernization processes as pathogenic developments is a communication about the conditions that trigger collective learning processes and modify the discursive universe of class conflict as a way of legitimizing practices. Such communication on the pathogenesis of modernity, defined as a condition of rationality, cannot exclude the possibility of the pathogenesis of modernity, but it can minimize it.

4. Contradictions and Evolution

4.1. A theoretical treatment of contradictions

The previous analysis of the social production of modernity led to an analysis on three levels: collective learning processes, class conflicts and reproductive structures. This distinction at the analytical level allows locating both the structure and the functioning of contradiction as a mechanism for the emergence and reproduction of communication. This implicit notion of contradiction should be clarified in the following sections.

Dissent can be defined as a social event in which someone objects to what another person says. This definition leads to a first thesis: the concept of contradiction presupposes the concept of communication. Without communication, disagreement is a meaningless category. only inside

[51] Although it has often been pointed out that the different paths of modernization cannot be reduced to deviations from a main trend leading to modernity, the necessary theoretical consequences of this observation have rarely been considered.


In a communicative relationship, a contradiction can arise.[52]This thesis leads to the following conclusion: Contradictions work at different levels of social reality.

At the level of associations, contradiction is the mechanism by which participants in a collective discourse can construct a shared world of meaning. Such a shared world is based on concrete interaction, forcing participants into a logic that goes beyond their personal commitment and selfish interests. Communication at the level of concrete interaction that uses the mechanism of contradiction is linked to the logic of argumentation. Reasoning, in turn, is a mechanism that links all participants to a collective reality defined by the learning process triggered by communication. Contradictions, then, are fundamental to a first type of social reality: the reality of social groups. At this level we are dealing with concrete actors trying to communicate with each other.

But the contradiction can be carried to the point where the argument itself is called into question: one side can argue against other arguments and begin to appeal to power. Playback of the communication in the group is stopped. Therefore, a substitute must be found for the social basis of communication. The new base is formed not by social relations between people, but between classes of people. At this level, communication is a mechanism for locating and moving classes with each other. The mechanisms that oblige social classes to communicate with each other, that is, to face each other, are those of the market, since whoever does not participate is inevitably the loser of the game. But, at the same time, this situation obliges institutional arrangements to reproduce the market. The creation of distinctions, that is, a world of social classification, is the result of communication at this level. Contradictions, then, are fundamental to a second type of social reality: the reality of social classes.[53]At this level, we have to deal with social classes that communicate by fighting each other.

But there is another type of contradiction that escapes the above description of contradictions. These are the contradictions built into the structural effects of group and class action, differentiation and rationalization. This level of contradiction is not the same as a contradiction between society and its environment, because society cannot contradict its environment:[54]the environment is set by making it

[52] On the centrality of the concept of communication to a sociological theory, see, each with different intents, Habermas 1981 and Luhmann 1984. On the cultural-anthropological perspective, see Leach 1976. In what follows, I draw heavily on Miller 1986. .

[53] Insisting on the distinction between group and class implies a critique of classical conflict theory, such as that developed by Dahrendorf (1959).

[54] Luhmann particularly emphasizes this point. See Luhmann 1984 (191ff., 498ff.).


not communicating The contradiction I am referring to is still within society. With this we arrive at the broadest and most fundamental level of social contradictions: the level of structural contradictions that make up the social reality of society. Structural contradictions do not constitute communication. But because they are communicated, they allow communication to take place at both the group and class level.

The levels of communicative constitution of social reality can be summarized as follows:

—The first level refers to the contradictions between the communicating actors. This level constitutes the social reality of the group and the learning processes triggered by the communication between the actors.

— The second level refers to the contradictions between groups that classify and reclassify themselves. This level constitutes the social reality of the class and the social struggles that take place between classes.

– The third level refers to contradictions built into development processes, which are structural effects of learning and class conflicts. This level constitutes the social reality of society.

Contradictions on all three levels work together to produce social evolution. The implications of this conceptualization for the theory of social evolution can now be clarified.

4.2. Contradictions and social changes

This discussion on the communicative function of contradictions at different levels of social reality shows that contradictions are the means and the telos of communication. The telos of communication is not the resolution of the contradiction, because that would mean the end of communication. On the contrary, it is about reproducing the communication, ensuring a continuous flow of communication. This constant flow of communication means that social reality is always changing.

This relationship between contradiction and communication opens up a new theoretical perspective on social change. The second thesis for a theory of social change is the following: contradictions generate social change and these changes are the mechanisms of evolution.[55]This thesis differs in a fundamental respect from conventional notions of social change: it tries to explain change not in terms of changes in factors external to the system, but in terms of internal generative mechanisms. social change is

[55] The difference between my approach and the Marxist strategy is the distinction between the changes produced and the evolutionary process that drives those changes. My approach avoids the "misspecification" problem associated with theories that attempt to derive social developments directly from observed actions.


itself a social product. A consequence of this general assumption is the following: contradictions are constitutive of social change; they generate social change in the process of constituting social reality.[56]

Social change is constituted at the level of association precisely because of the contradiction. Communication exerts a specific compulsion: it forces those involved in communication to learn or not to learn. Contradictions can be used to reinterpret the world; if this use is rejected, those involved in the communication must expressly reject the learning opportunity offered to them. In both cases, social reality changes. In this problem, the theory of practical discourse has its generic field of application: it is an ideal model for the constitution of social reality. It leaves the other levels of social reality to other theories, such as systems theory.[57]The contradictions of this first level generate social changes by triggering collective learning processes.[58]

But these learning processes are not sufficient to explain social change, because not all learning processes survive at the level of the institutional order. Therefore, social change can be seen at the level of the institutional order as a result of struggles between groups interested in classifying or reclassifying others or themselves. Contradictions at this second level produce social change by forcing social classes into class conflict.[59]

These conflicts, labeled as class struggles or as forms of status politics, have structural effects that go beyond their intended effects. The communication structure that produces these effects creates a kind of contradiction beyond actors and classes of actors. Contradictions at the level of reproduction of social conditions generate social and cultural changes through the mobilization of antagonistic models of reproduction (ie, differentiation and rationalization).

[56] At this point, it is worth pointing out some possible misunderstandings. The centrality of contradiction does not imply that contradiction is the guarantee of rationality; those who disagree do not necessarily understand those they disagree with. This also applies to contradictions in the class struggle; the outcome of class conflicts is not rational per se. And the same goes for the idea of ​​rationalization; the empirically given process of rationalization (what is real) is not necessarily rational. It is not necessary to make any of these empiricist assumptions. The only thing that matters is the fact of the contradiction. Reality is nothing more than the environment, which is a constant resource for changing ideas about reality.

[57] This is the theoretical strategy of Habermas (1981), who works with two different theories simultaneously; the difference between these theories is established by their normative difference.

[58] A systematic presentation of this term can be found in Miller 1986. See also Eder 1985a, 1986b.

[59] The theoretical treatment of classification leaves open the question of the type of differentiation used in classification. Whether there is a functional differentiation, segmental or not, remains to be seen. For a specific treatment, see Schwartz 1981.


that address the structural basis of communication.[60]Thus, the Marxist idea of ​​the contradiction between the social relations of production and the productive forces is abstracted in a contradiction between the antagonistic forms of differentiation and rationalization required at each stage of social development.

4.3. evolutionary mechanisms

This discussion leaves open the problem of how the contradictions at different levels of reality relate to each other. How do the contradictions that generate learning processes relate to contradictions at the level of class conflict? And how do contradictions at this level relate to contradictions at the level of reproduction of society? This problem leads to a third thesis: social changes at these different levels are the mechanisms of social evolution.[61]Evolutionary changes are the result of the combined action of contradictions that produce changes at different levels of social reality.

This thesis implies that neither collective learning processes, nor class conflicts, nor structural tensions explain the evolution of society in isolation, but their evolutionary interaction. Collective learning processes function as a mutation mechanism and offer different patterns of social reality produced in different social groups. Class conflicts function as selection mechanisms that favor patterns of social distinction that are integrated into society's institutional system. Differentiation and rationalization function as a reproductive isolation mechanism and stabilize the social system.

But there is a problem with grafting this evolutionary-style theory, though well designed for biological evolution, onto the process of social change. The described processes are not linked to a specific evolutionary mechanism. The evolutionary mechanisms served by these processes are interchangeable. This implies that learning processes, class conflicts and structural antagonisms can be selection environments. And mutations can result from any of the social processes mentioned. The same reasoning applies to the reproductive isolation mechanism.

[60] This observation points to the central position that a theory of reproduction occupies for sociological theorizing. A sociology of culture is a necessary and important part of such a theory of reproduction, but it must be complemented by a sociology of social structure. A new approach to this sociology can be found in Bourdieu 1980, who works with the concept of a social topology. It speaks, similarly to the language of the theory of differentiation, of the logic of the different fields of action and of the homologies in terms of social positions in these fields and of the homologies of these fields in society in general, which reproduce a classification of reality. .

[61] For these discussions of the relevance of the biological model, see Plotkin 1982; for a sociological application see Eder 1987.


(Stabilization). The possible recombinations of mechanisms and processes therefore speak strongly in favor of an evolutionary theory with a highly complex structure.

An important corollary of this theory of evolution is that, given these mechanisms, a strictly Darwinian theory, which can be defined as one that assumes no connection between conditions of mutation and conditions of selection,[62]it's not possible. A Lamarckian theory would work better. The Lamarckian approach, which assumes a strong relationship between conditions of mutation and conditions of selection, is best suited to explain the interchangeability of mechanisms and processes in the theory of social evolution. He suggested that once structural antagonisms became the subject of group communication, the stabilization mechanism could be turned into a mutation mechanism. Or I would anticipate that once the description of structural antagonisms becomes a weapon in the hands of one class of actors against another class of actors, the stabilization mechanism could be turned into a selection mechanism.

Therefore, the analysis of modernization requires a much more sophisticated theory of evolution. Evolutionary theory, itself a product of modernization, is a way of describing modern society. As such, it must take into account the power of collective action. It must also take into account the dimension of social and cultural conflicts. And it must be able to explain the success or failure of historical developments. It seems that only a theory of evolution that leaves open the question of what a modern order is and that focuses on the question of the social production of modernity can capture changes in society. These are changes that often contradict the theory of modernization that sociologists have formulated about this type of society. But perhaps this contradiction is another mechanism of change in modern society.


Beck, U. 1983. Beyond Status and Class? At thesocial differences. Special Social World Volume 2,Ed. R. Kreckel, 25-73. Goettingen: Schwartz.

Bermann, M. 1984.The Reenchantment of the World. Nova York: Free Press.

Bourdieu, S. 1980.the practical sense. Paris: Editions de Minuit.

Bourdieu, S. 1984.The distinction: a social critique of the judgment of taste. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Calhoun, C. 1982.The question of class struggle: social foundations of popular radicalism during the industrial revolution. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

[62] Cfr. Harré 1980 (293 e ss.).


Colony, P. 1985. Uneven structural differentiation: Towards a comparative approach. At theneofunctionalism,edition J. Alejandro, 130–56. Beverly Hills: Wise.

Dahrendorf, R. 1959.Classes and class conflicts in industrial society. Stanford 6th Edition: Stanford University Press.

Dumont, L. 1965. The modern concept of the individual: notes on its genesis and the institutions that accompany it.Contributions to Indian sociology8:13–16.

Dumont, L. 1967.hierarchical person. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France.

Dumont, L. 1970. Religion, politics and society in the individualist universe,Proceedings of the Royal Anthropological Institutions of Great Britain and Ireland, 1970,31–41.

Durkheim, E. 1950.Sociology classes. Physics of morals and law.. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France.

Eder, K. 1982. A New Social Movement?telos52:5–20.

Eder, K. 1985a.History as a learning process.b? On the pathogenesis of political modernity in Germany. Frankfurt: Suhrkamp.

Eder, K. 1985b. The “New Social Movements”: Moral Crusades, Political Interest Groups or Social Movement?social investigation52:869–90.

Eder, K. 1986a. The permanent social contract. On the critique of the economic theory of the social. At theJustice, speech or market? New approaches in contract theory,Ed. L. Kern and H.-P. Muller, 67-81. Opladen: West German Publisher.

Eder, K. 1986b. Social movement and cultural evolution. Reflections on the role of new social movements in the cultural evolution of modernity. At theModernity: continuities and caesuras. Special Social World Volume 4,Edition J. Berger, 335–57. Gottingen: Schwartz.

Eder, K. 1987. Learning and evolution of social systems. An epigenetic perspective. At thetheory of evolution in the social sciencesEd. M. Schmid and FM Wuketis, 101-25. Dordrecht: Reidel.

Eisenstadt, S. N. 1981. Cultural traditions and political dynamics: the origins and modes of ideological politics.british sociology magazine32:155–81.

Elster, J. 1978.logic and society. Nova York: Willey.

Galtung, J. 1986. The Green Movement: An Explanation of Social sociology1:75–90.

Godelier, M. 1973. System, Structure and Contradiction in Capital. At theEconomic Anthropology. Studies on the concept of social structure in primitive societies,by M. Godelier, 138-72. Reinbek, W. Ger.: Rowohlt.

Godelier, M. 1978. Infrastructure, Societies and History.current anthropology19: 763–68.

Habermas, J. 1962.structural change in the public sphere. Neuwied: Luchterhand.

Habermas, J. 1979.Communication and the evolution of society. Boston: Beacon Press.

Habermas, J. 1981.the theory of communicative action. 2Bde. Frankfurt: Suhrkamp.

Harré, R. 1980. Social Being and Social Change. At thethe plot structure,edition M. Brenner, 287–312. Oxford: Blackwell.

Hintze, O. 1970.state and constitution. Goettingen: Vandenhoeck y Ruprecht.

Kendall, W. 1975.The labor movement in Europe. Londres: Allen Lane.


Kohlberg, L. 1981.The philosophy of moral development: moral stages and the idea of ​​justice. San Francisco: Harper und Row.

Koselleck, R. [1959] 1973.Critique and crisis, a study on the pathogenesis of the bourgeois world. Frankfurt: Suhrkamp.

Kumar, K. 1983. Class and political action in nineteenth-century England: theoretical and comparative perspective.European Archives of Sociology24:3–43.

Leach, E. 1976.Culture and Communication: The logic by which symbols are connected. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Lechner, F. J. 1985. Modernity and its dissatisfaction. At theneofunctionalism,edition J. Alejandro, 157–76. Beverly Hills: Wise.

Luhmann, N. 1982.The differentiation of society.. Nova York: Columbia University Press.

Luhmann, N. systems. to plantba general theory. Frankfurt: Suhrkamp.

Luhmann, N. 1985. On the concept of social class. At thesocial differentiation,Ed. N. Luhmann, 119-62. Opladen, W. Gen.: West German Publishers.

Marshall, TH 1950.citizenship and social class. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Miller, M. 1986.Collective learning processes: studies based on a sociological theory of learning.. Frankfurt: Suhrkamp.

Moscovici, S. 1976. The Reenchantment of the World. At theBeyond the Crisis. Against the political deficit of ecology,edition A. Touraine et al., 94–131. Frankfurt: Syndikat.

Mousnier, R. 1974.The institutions of France under absolute monarchy. vol. 1,society and state. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France.

Mousnier, R. 1980.The institutions of France under absolute monarchy. vol. 2,Social classes. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France.

Naamán, S. 1978.On the Rise of the German Labor Movement. Learning processes and socialization, 1830-1868. Hanover: SOAK.

Nipperdey, T. 1972. Association as a social structure in Germany in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. At theHistory and associations in the 19th century,Ed. H. Boockmann e col., 1-44. Goettingen: Vanderhoeck y Ruprecht.

Off, approx. 1972Structural problems of the capitalist state. Frankfurt: Suhrkamp.

Offe, C. 1985. New Social Movements: Challenging the Limits of Institutional investigation52:817–68.

Plotkin, H.C., Hrsg. one thousand nine hundred and eighty-two.Learning, development and culture.. Chichester: Wiley.

Sahlins, M. 1976.culture and practical reason. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Gorger, W. 1979. The paradoxes of rationalization. At theMax Weber's vision of history,Ed. G. Roth e W. Schluchter, 11-64. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Canhoneira, W. 1981.The Rise of Western Rationalism: The Developmental Story of Max Weber. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Schmid, M. 1982. Habermas' Theory of Social Evolution. At theHabermas: critical debates,Ed. JB Thompson e D. Held, 162-80. Londres: Macmillan.


Schwartz, B. 1981.Vertical ranking: a study on structuralism and the sociology of knowledge. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Sjoeberg, G. 1960. Conflicting Functional Requirements and Social Systems.Conflict Resolution Magazine4:198–208.

Skinner, P. 1978.The foundations of modern political thought.. 2Bde. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Smelser, NJ 1985. Evaluation of the structural differentiation model in relation to 19th century educational change. At theneofunctionalism,edition J. Alejandro, 113–30. Beverly Hills: Wise.

Thompson, PE 1968.The rise of the English working class. Harmondsworth: Pinguin.

Thompson, EP 1974. Patrician Society, Plebeian Culture.Social History Magazine7:382–405.

Thompson, EP 1978. Eighteenth Century English Society: Class Struggle Without history3:133–64.

Tilly, ca. 1978.From mobilization to revolution. Lesung, Messe: Addison-Wesley.

Touraine, A. 1977.Company's own production.. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Touraine, A. 1981.the voice and the eye. Nova York: Cambridge University Press.

Tugendhat, E. 1980. On the development of structures of moral justification in modern law.Legal and Social Philosophy Archive(insert new series) 14:1-20.

Vester, M. 1970.The emergence of the proletariat as a learning processb. The rise of anti-capitalist theory and practice in England, 1792-1848. Frankfurt: editorial europea.

Wallace, A. F. 1972. Paradigm processes in cultural change.american anthropologist74:467–78.

Werblowsky, R. J. 1976.Beyond Tradition and Modernity: Wandering Religions in a Changing World. Londres: Athlone Press.

Yinger, JM 1982.Countercultures: the promise and danger of a world turned inside out. Nova York: Free Press.


Global society versus niche societies:
Paradoxes of unidirectional evolution

Carlos Otto Hondrich

Disasters make people learn; The same applies to innovations. It is concluded that innovative disasters in the sense of unpublished have a strong didactic impact. Of course, after the meltdown of Chernobyl in the Soviet Union, some European countries learned very quickly that nuclear energy can and must be replaced by a new combination of other forms of energy, especially solar energy, as well as innovations for savings power. On the other hand, some cite another lesson from this catastrophe, namely that it is seemingly pointless and impossible to break an established global trend.

I don't want to discuss the issue of energy resources, but global imperatives. Some sociocultural and technocultural patterns are so pervasive around the world that no country is strong enough to reject them. These technical and normative standards include markets, media, modern weapons, sports competitions, blue jeans, popular music, majority state legitimacy, gender equality, nuclear power plants, and the nuclear family. These global patterns give the impression that societies around the world are becoming more and more similar and that this trend is inevitable.

This pattern may seem unfortunate to us in some ways, but it is a source of hope in other ways. “Good” norms such as mutual understanding and non-aggression in global governance can be widely disseminated and accepted as desirable future solutions to the world’s most dangerous and potentially destructive conflicts, including thermonuclear war.


Rather than seeing such standards as just a source of hope, I argue that the risks inherent in prevailing trends toward world unity, sociocultural homogeneity, and efficiency in all areas outweigh the benefits. The more prevalent these trends are, the more paradoxical their effects become.

From this starting point, the question of the inevitability of distinctive patterns becomes even more decisive. Are there no other possible paths of development? I ask this question thinking about the classics of sociology, but I don't get an answer. In my opinion, there is no alternative to Spencer and Durkheim's view of social evolution as a unidirectional process of functional differentiation. I interpret the theories of Marx, Weber and Adam Smith as different versions of the same answer. I have to turn to evolutionary biology to find two models of evolution within one paradigm.

Thus, in my brief discussion of functional differentiation asaengine of modernity, I particularly point out the paradoxes and pitfalls that the term contains. Reality protects itself from risk by resorting to segmentation, as opposed to functional differentiation. The reality of modernization is increasingly characterized not by functional differentiation replacing segmentation, but by both principles working together in very subtle combinations. Biology and ecology, which emphasize the evolutionary function of niches, take us one step closer to rehabilitating the principle of segmentation. I take societies as units of analysis and contrast functional differentiation and segmentation with respect to their expression in the terms "supersociety" and "niche society". I understand the dominant concept of modernization as the transformation of niche societies into supersocieties through functional differentiation. In other words, the notion of modernization is theoretically one-sided, to say the least, and does not take into account its own risks and policy implications. While there is strong empirical, political, and moral support for the concept of modernization, a counter-concept is needed that politically represents the interests of niche societies against those of large dominant societies. However, this concept would be far from being a satisfactory theory of evolution if it could not claim to be in the interests of evolution itself.

1. Functional differentiation paradoxes

The sociological tradition uses a simple and compelling paradigm.socializationo Social evolution: two or more small, relatively self-sufficient hordes merge, either as


Mutual dominance, external pressure or "free choice" and the formation of a new and larger social unit. Internally, this new entity tends to break down into functions and functional subgroups. This model of social evolution has a triple survival advantage: it increases the whole unit's power over its environment, increases its internal power through a new and stronger form of integration, and increases its efficiency by introducing the social division of labor. .

The evolutionary model became the core of the theory initially elaborated by Spencer and Durkheim, which sees social evolution as a continuous transformation from segmental to functional differentiation. If we look at world society today, we see that the power of functionally specialized economic, scientific and cultural subsystems is eroding the boundaries of segments of national societies. From this we can conclude that the process of functional differentiation is still ongoing.

It makes sense to reconceptualize this "transformation model" in systems theory terminology to make it an ideal type free of historical connotations:

1. Two or more social systems merge into a single system. However, the status quo ante can also be seen as a “single” system consisting of several loosely connected segmental subsystems. In both cases, this transformation amounts to an increase in power and size.

2. A multitude of different loosely connected segments or systems are replaced by a multitude of different functions and functional subsystems within a strong system. This view certainly does not correspond to the popular notion of functional differentiation. Nor does it correspond to the view represented in the classics. From the beginning, Durkheim and Spencer assumed that social segments were similar or homogeneous. Although the clans and tribes of primitive societies may appear similar to our eyes, in their own self-description they differ significantly from each other, forming a variety of social systems that are heterogeneous and independent of each other. For them, functional differentiation means the transformation of their own particular socio-cultural structures into more general structures. The same applies to these new systems. They turned heterogeneity into homogeneity. Spencer's statement that evolution is the progression from homogeneity to heterogeneity applies only to functions. Regarding sociostructural arrangements, there is an increase in homogeneity.

3. Duplication of a function or set of functions in two or more systems or subsystems is reduced. The principle applies here that functional differentiation should progress as far as possible.


means that it continues to the point where only one structural representation (or subsystem) remains for each function in the system. The redundancy of functions and structural subsystems is transformed into uniqueness. This equates to an increase in efficiency. Adam Smith's famous use of the pin-making example to illustrate the division of labor is a good example. Thus, implicit in functional differentiation is an increase in efficiency and a tendency to increase the uniqueness of the functions and corresponding structural subsystems.

The list of implications of functional differentiation as an ideal type can be extended to include the transformation of internal power relations, personalities, and micro-macro relationships. Our knowledge about functional differentiation is still very poor. With that said, I'll end the list here and move on to the topic of risks. What risks do social systems face when approaching modernization's ideal type of functional differentiation? In the order of the three points described above, I discuss the risks of size and power, the risks of homogeneity, and the risks of uniqueness and efficiency. To change the emphasis a little, sometimes I do not speak of risks, but of paradoxes or paradoxical developments. The paradox is that social systems are weakened by their own size and strength.

That systems are weakened by their strength is the "size and power paradox". Likewise, the "paradox of evolution" is that functional differentiation creates not only diversity but also homogeneity, and this homogeneity threatens to slow down evolution. And it is also paradoxical that the increase in efficiency resulting from the decrease in redundancy makes systems more vulnerable, since the slightest disturbance in one of the subsystems drastically reduces the efficiency and viability of the entire system. I call this trend the "Efficiency Paradox."

1.1. The paradox of size and power

The weakness of strong systems can be explained in several ways.

1. As systems grow in size and elements, their contacts with other systems decrease because within themselves they have ample opportunities for a wide range of contacts. In large societies, as Peter M. Blau (1977) has argued, the relationship between internal and external interaction is greater than in small societies. This applies to economic, cultural and social interactions. In other words, large societies do not need to learn as much from small countries as small countries can learn from them. This analysis also


suggests that large countries are more "closed" and small countries are "more open" to the flow of information from other countries. This is true despite the fact that some large countries consider themselves "open societies" in Popper's sense. This may also explain the greater incestuous conformity of sociocultural standards in large societies compared to smaller societies. Therefore, a large number of elements has a negative effect on the capacity and diversity of large systems.

2. Even when large systems share information with smaller ones, they don't learn as much from small systems as small systems learn from them. For example, if five million Americans have five million contacts with five million Swiss people, only about 2% of the US population learns about Switzerland, but about 90% of the total Swiss population learns about conditions in the United States. United.

3. Since large systems are powerful, and power equates to the "ability not to learn" (Deutsch 1966, 111), large systems do not need to learn as much as small systems to survive. Furthermore, the awareness of being powerful enough not to need to learn can have an additional effect: reducing the propensity to learn. I call this tendency the "stubbornness" of large energy systems.

4. As Gödel for mathematics, Turing for computers, and Hofstadter (1979, 101) have reminded us, all systems are incomplete and contradictory in the sense that they do not know or can prove their consistency and completeness without resorting to external assumptions. From the point of view of cybernetics, it should be added that systems cannot be self-directed if they do not receive information about their goals from the outside. Large systems, which process less external information than small systems, learn less about themselves and their own contradictions than small systems and are therefore less able to determine an appropriate target system. At the end of a supersystem that has absorbed all other systems to the point of being alone, the system completely loses the ability to set adequate goals. As a result, he is also deprived of his ability to control himself. This would apply to a world state that would have swallowed up all other nation states.

1.2. The paradox of evolution

To understand the paradox of evolution, it is necessary to resort to a generalized version of the evolutionary biology model. Evolution can be understood (1) from the perspective of an ecological system, as


to increase or maintain the diversity of all species, or (2) from the point of view of each species, increasing its population and the diversity of different individuals within that population. Each of these two perspectives poses a dilemma for the other. There is also a contradiction between increasing numbers and diversity. Therefore, it is wrong to confuse the evolutionary success of a species with that of a system of species. It is also misleading to measure the success of a species solely by its growing numbers. Evolutionary "success" is an ambivalent and pervasive quality, and for good reason.

Living systems - including societies as a form of social systems - can be considered species if (1) they share a set of common characteristics and (2) they reproduce by recombining and mutating a certain number of basic elements (genes) formed by one from a common gene pool. Diversity exists within this common pool, and the recombination and/or mutation of its elements provides continuous and ever-new diversity. However, selection decreases diversity by increasing the number of individuals in a given population that are similar in the sense that they are better equipped to survive in a given environment. Such a tendency towards homogenization within a population takes a long time to establish itself and, therefore, is not easily detectable in very large and segmented populations, such as the human species.

However, species with small populations are different. With only 160 inhabitants, if membership in the United Nations is taken as a rough guide, the nation-state species is extraordinarily small. Thus, applying the paradox of evolution, the tendency of a species to destroy its own internal diversity by homogenizing its population can be particularly strong within nation-state species. Homogenization through functional differentiation and homogenization through selection work in the same direction. Should they be considered as two sides of the same phenomenon? So far I'm not sure. I often see a parallel or even a synonymy between the sociological notion of functional differentiation and the biological notion of recombination and mutation of elements (genes). If this approach is correct, it speaks even more strongly in favor of homogenization. Biologically speaking, homogenization does not begin with the selection process. Rather, it is triggered by the process of recombination and/or mutation.

1.3. The efficiency paradox

The efficiency paradox can be understood as the result of competition between multiple systems or subsystems, all performing the same function. The most efficient will support and integrate the work of others. Realization of the "one function, one system" principle brings maximum efficiency, not only because the most efficient system is


the one that survives the competition, but also because the energies of the general and global system are used more effectively. Market monopolization processes are a typical example. The paradox arises less from an abuse of power than from the heightened security risks inherent in the unification process. When only one system remains to handle each function or set of functions, a defect in that system causes a reversal from maximum efficiency to maximum inefficiency.

An even stronger version of the singularity-efficiency paradox can be derived from the hypercycle theory (Eigen and Schuster 1979), an explanation of the origin of life. Molecules that begin to reproduce do not do so alone, but in cooperation with others. This process, a hypercycle of reaction cycles, has many variations, but the "strongest" soon crushes its competitors in life. This analysis explains the uniqueness of the genetic code of all living things on Earth. Applying this to societies, its tendency towards gradual fusion, through differentiation and functional homogenization, towards the uniqueness of a supersociety would end up ending the process of social reproduction. In a species with a population of one, there can be no self-reproduction in a cooperative hypercycle. From a cybernetic point of view, a system that no longer has other systems of the same type is highly vulnerable because it lacks not only cooperation but also competition. Only through "cooperation through competition" does a system know its possibilities and limits when it comes to setting realistic goals. A "solitary system" loses its capacity for self-organization and condemns itself to death.

2. Segmentation and niche systems

Fortunately, the evolution of systems, and social systems in particular, does not follow the risky path suggested by the ideal type theory of functional differentiation. On the contrary, it makes extensive use of segmental differentiation as a complement and protection against the dangers of functional differentiation. Segmentation does the following:

1. It breaks large systems into smaller ones and reduces the performance of subsystems.

2. Maintains and enhances a variety of functionally equivalent structures with different sociocultural patterns, despite the tendency towards homogenization.

3. Create redundancy in the form of similarity as a counterpoint to the pressure to be unique.

We are wrong to consider segmentation as an alternative that replaces functional differentiation and leads to de-differentiation. At least


in the case of social systems, it seems unlikely that such systems simply "forget" the level of functional differentiation they have already achieved. Thus, even with a planned de-differentiation of structures, there remain second-level underground structures that retain and maintain a greater degree of functional differentiation.

But that's not my main point. Fundamentally, any move towards greater functional differentiation inevitably also leads to greater segmentation. This applies to all levels of the system. At the social level, functional differentiation was mainly driven by the formation of political and economic subsystems. Due to its increased size, homogeneity and uniqueness, the political subsystem can be seen as a paradigmatic example of functional differentiation. And, however, the same process has simultaneously led to the contrasting program of a socio-emotional subsystem composed of families, friendships, private acquaintances and intimate relationships, a subsystem divided into many small systems, each one with a great variety of structural patterns and structures of high level. level of functional redundancy.

Within the second-level functional subsystems, segmentation is an ongoing process. In the political system we usually find a variety of parties and interest groups, as well as regional and local governments. In the economic system, segmentation occurs mainly between companies and families. In the single-family home, segmentation ends due to the small size of the unit; Instead, we find different patterns of functional differentiation, both emotional and economic. in total,socializationsince social evolution leads to an "architecture of complexity" (Simon [1969] 1981, 193) that is not only characterized by a hierarchy of systems, subsystems, sub-subsystems, etc., but also by a typical mix of functional differentiation and segmentation, a mixture that is different for each subsystem and each level of the subsystem. There is strong evidence that the scope for changing this combination is very limited. It would not make sense to organize emotional and affective functions at a social level by applying principles of functional differentiation. On the other hand, however, a segmentation of the economic and political sphere would lead to an enormous loss of efficiency. Therefore, there seems to be an adequate (if not optimal) combination of the two principles of differentiation and segmentation for all functional subsystems. Social planning can alter the balance of this mix. In trying to "modernize" social structures, he often overemphasizes the functional principle, as in kibbutz education or the central planning of an economy. As a result, segmentation is pushed towards the dark side of society, towards unofficial structures such as black markets, informal groups and underground communication networks.

Generally speaking, each step towards a change in social differentiation creates its opposite: diffusivity, a repository that encompasses it all.


Roles and relationships that are no longer considered or are not yet considered or addressed through differentiation. The ways in which these functions and relationships exist are confused, uncertain, and undefined, as well as covert, unconscious, and just latent. But it does. They are “the other side of the coin”. Sociology generally does not consider this disadvantage.

Since differentiation does not destroy but creates diffusivity, the relationship between functional differentiation and segmentation is one of two opposing but collaborative principles of evolution. Functional differentiation represents the dynamic, innovative, expansive, and risky aspects of evolution. Segmentation means preservation, stability and risk reduction. We must abandon the classic model of social evolution, which predicts a progression from segmentation to functional differentiation. And we must also question the analog model of modernization.

Such a revision of the transformation model opens up a wider range of interpretations of evolutionary problems. Some of these problems arise not because there is "too much" segmentation, but because there is not enough segmentation in evolving social systems. Segmentation cannot be considered fully rehabilitated if it is considered only as a companion of functional differentiation. It is more than that because it is itself a source of evolution. To understand better, let's review the biological and ecological evolutionary model. As explained above, the evolutionary process that leads to the homogenization and/or dispersion of the population of a species is just one alternative within the transformation model. Another would be evolution through the formation and isolation of niches.

Niches are the conditions in which a part of the population of a species lives in relative specialization, isolated from the others. Finding a niche means finding or establishing boundaries that allow unlimited exchange of contacts with the rest (or majority) of the preventive population. This limits gene shuffling to the niche population, which in turn means that this group is protected from having to compete with the rest of the population on its terms.

In a set of isolated ecosystems, each one will undoubtedly follow its own dynamic evolutionary processes, either by random shocks or by environmental differences. This becomes a much larger number of different species in the aggregate [i.e., h leads to different lifestyles in the general population] than would be the case in a single large ecosystem in which many of the mutations that have survival value in the small system would have no overall survival value. (Bouldering 1978, 113)

This niche development model boils down to "evolution through segmentation." The niche forms the segment in which one or a few individuals live.


Systems develop their peculiarities independently of other systems.

Niche isolation thus leads to a multiplicity of systems that are functionally equivalent but structurally separate. As societies, the United States, the Soviet Union, Sweden, and South Africa all serve the same function, but each fulfills this function through very different sociostructural patterns. However, as elements of the "superior" system of international society, these societies fulfill different functions or play different roles, as competing, neutral, and even pariah superpowers (cf. Luard 1976, 259ff.). There is redundancy within this superior system in the sense that the functional subsystems (the economic and political spheres, the socialization system, etc.) are replicated many times, both similarly and differently. Pattern similarity has its survival value. When one system disappears, others ensure that the pattern endures. And yet, the variety of patterns also has its survival value. Systems can choose between different patterns, they can recombine different patterns, or they can learn from differences in each other's patterns.

For niche varieties to become evolutionarily important, certain conditions must be met:

1. Niches should not be too small. Large systems are more likely to produce unlikely mutations and protect against outside interference.

2. Niche customization shouldn't go too far. Niches are constantly changing. If the niche shrinks too much, the population very well adapted to that niche will cease to exist as a distinct entity. However, adaptability increases the ability of a given population to expand niches or find new niches. Disaster favors adaptability and weeds out the previously well-adapted but unadaptable (Boulding 1978, 111, 114).

3. Mutations or innovations that create greater complexity, especially those that increase adaptability, are more likely to find new niches than those that reduce complexity.

4. Niches that are very open to their environment are invaded by more complex or larger and more powerful populations, thus losing their distinctive character.

5. Niches that are too closed miss the opportunity to become more complex by absorbing innovations from abroad; they will not be able to expand.

Opening and closing are important strategies for increasing and maintaining diversity (Klapp 1978). Proof of this are the socialist countries of Eastern Europe; today they have become open societies


allow many new elements of political and economic culture and thus increase its internal diversity.

3. Perspectives for the evolution of global societies

How strong are the tendencies towards functional differentiation in the international social system? And what chance do niche companies have to buck this trend?

Society can be seen as an interesting kind of living system. It appears later in evolutionary history, moving from the physical to the biological to the social level (Boulding 1978, 29-30). Among social systems, society is also a laggard. It is distinguished by its degree of coordinating or synthesizing power: "More comprehensive control over action than any other..., a kind of social system, in any universe of social systems, reaching the highest degree of self-sufficiency as a system ." relative to their environment." (Parsons 1966, 2, 5) Today we would be critical of such a definition, knowing that all living systems are self-sufficient in the sense that they organize themselves, that they are not self-sufficient because they themselves, to reproduce the cooperation of many other systems, require many different layers.

Thus, the most important difference between society and other social systems is the symbolic social meaning attributed to society. It represented a "superior" social system that symbolized the unity of social organization at a time (eighteenth century) when this unity was already fragmented and constantly threatened by progressive functional differentiation. In this situation, the search for society as a symbol of unity had completely contradictory results. On the one hand, the unity and identity of the whole seemed better represented by the political subsystem as a place of control over a territory with visible geographical limits. On the other hand, Hegel saw society as encompassing both the family and the economy, two subsystems with distinct boundaries that would otherwise be neglected in a political understanding of the term. The paradox of society is that it emerged as a symbol of unity when unity disappeared.

The 'society' of species, despite having fewer than 200 'individuals', exhibits a remarkably high degree of dissimilarity. These differences include (1) very large and very small individuals relative to territorial boundaries; (2) individuals growing and declining as a result of the reproductive strength or weakness of their respective elemental parts; (3) strong and chaotic individuals in terms of internal normative control, self-organization and attitude; and (4) independent and dependent persons.

It is inherent in the "society" of the species that it too can reproduce.


B. by segmentation, i. h by population increase and reduction of individuals, or by functional differentiation (often forced), i. h reducing the population in favor of ever larger individuals.

Both segmentation and functional differentiation can be seen in today's global society. Segmentation occurred in particular after the First World War (splitting of Austria-Hungary) and the Second World War (splitting of Germany and Korea), as well as in the course of decolonization. During the same period, Soviet and Chinese societies grew. Contemporary Western European societies have retained their territorial identities, but gradually seem to be merging their norms and control mechanisms. However, some African cases illustrate reproduction through territorial integration without concomitant successful integration of control rules. Most notable, however, was the development of three superpowers, each distinguished by their size, large populations, and high levels of complexity, although each superpower is complex in different ways. All three illustrate the size paradox. Chinese society has recently tried to overcome this paradox by adopting birth control, opening its frontiers to foreign knowledge, and introducing market segmentation. The result was an increase in the degree of independence and segmental learning in China. In the Soviet Union, however, the paradox continued to flourish unabated until the system virtually collapsed. The traditional insularity of the system and its excessive emphasis on functional differentiation have led to a centralization of political and economic activity without the concomitant exploitation of the learning potential of independent and competing segments (parties, corporations and interest groups). These qualities lead to the kind of inflexibility and inflexibility expressed by the size paradox. The United States can be proud of its openness and the philosophy and structures of conflicting and competitive segments that it defends, but this confidence that these structures are better positioned to solve problems can prevent Americans from realizing that such structures cannot solve the paradox of size and power. Due to its size, the United States has developed many self-regulatory mechanisms at the local and regional levels. The attention of the public - and of politicians who depend on the public's approval - is focused on these events and not on what is happening outside. Compare the relationship between international and local information in American and Swiss or Dutch newspapers.

The "internal orientation" of the social autarchy of large societies would not be a problem in itself if these societies were not capable of being superpowers against small societies. Virtually all Western and Eastern European societies are, in this sense, superpower protectorates.


since they cannot resist the superpower representing the other side. No one likes to be dependent on another person, especially when the other is powerful and doesn't really understand or care about the other due to their size-related self-centeredness. This is not a moral dilemma that can be resolved through the efforts of those in power to "understand others". It is, as the size paradox teaches us, a sociostructural “asymmetric comprehension dilemma” that defies even the best intentions of powerful systems. In doing so, they fall into a triple complex of misunderstandings. First, they don't understand small, dependent systems to the extent that those systems understand them. Second, they don't understand that they cannot properly understand small societies even if they try. Third, they don't understand why small societies think they don't understand them, and small societies don't understand because they don't understand them well enough. As a result, everyone gets angry.

(Video) Modernity and social change lecture 2|UPSC|IAS 2020

Returning to the paradox of evolution: at first glance, there seems to be no empirical evidence to support its existence in world society. The number of independent state societies is increasing and the variety of their cultural models is very wide. However, there is some widespread common patterns around the world, for example when it comes to child labor or discrimination against women. The work of international organizations such as the ILO and UNCTAD gives us an idea of ​​what the growing number of commonly accepted standards look like.

Even more striking is the trend towards the homogenization of technocultural and sociocultural patterns, which continues in both official and unofficial forms. Some might argue that, in the course of the gradual expansion of homogeneity across world society, there has also been an expansion of cultural heterogeneity, i.e., the combination of proliferating modern elements with remaining traditional elements in each society creates new and specific sociocultural characteristics. . patterns and lifestyles. However, this heterogeneity only makes a certain sense, because at another level of abstraction, the new patterns and styles of life that result from the mixture of modernity and tradition only lead to a new homogenization of societies. All are becoming multifaceted societies that allow many different lifestyles to exist and be practiced simultaneously. This coexistence of tradition and modernity, of individualized and standardized lifestyles, can be described, albeit incompletely, by the term "dual society". In most countries, this has increasingly given way to a “diverse society”.

In many Third World countries, the modern "international" sector declares itself official, while in others (eg Iran) and in countries of the socialist camp it forms an unofficial structure, a


"second company" (Hankiss, 1985). Be that as it may, those goods, norms and social standards that cause homogenization between and within societies are and should be seen as the most modern, dynamic and important or, from the traditionalist point of view, the most dangerous.

The most striking aspect of social homogenization is its asymmetric character. Unlike human reproduction, where both sides have an equal chance of being represented when genes recombine, when technocultural and sociocultural patterns recombine, one side is almost always at a disadvantage. The side offering the highest level of complexity, or the strongest combination of complexity and power, is dominant. In today's world society, this is America's side. American society is the leading society in the sense that it spreads its sociocultural standards and products in a kind of one-way street. Other large countries, such as the Soviet Union, China, Japan, and Europe, do not return as many or as important things to the United States as they receive from them. And third world countries don't copy as many standards and things from other leading societies as the United States does.

One explanation for this one-way dynamic is that the United States, as an immigration society, has traditionally been open to more dynamic elements from other countries. It does not import them as products or institutions, but integrates them in the form of the personal "know-how" of the pizza maker, the rocket engineer or the scientist. World society receives the dynamic elements imported from the United States back from the United States in a transformed and enriched form.

The last step towards the homogenization of world society would, of course, be the disappearance of national borders. In reality, the borders are just being cleared, not abolished. Diversity is secretly eroded while the diversity and independence of state societies are officially respected.

If the significant diversity of different societies decreases, evolution must also lose its ability to recombine and select for diversity at the society level. But why shouldn't recombination and selection take place "below" and "above" state society? Below, or rather beyond, the state level of society, there are segments of companies and families, universities and schools, etc., with specific functions, which could also exist without the nation-state. They could assert themselves selectively, competing with each other: one scientific community against another, and both against religious communities. The public, whether through market or quasi-market processes, could be the arbiter in such selection processes. But might not a world state play the role of arbiter as much as the existing nation-state? After all, the nation-state already takes care of the functioning of markets, protects the family and allocates funds for research in various sciences.


company and so on. An evolutionary superstate could plausibly guarantee the maintenance of the potential for evolutionary diversity.

However, a world state cannot replace the regulatory functions of the state itself. When it comes to politics and the judiciary, the loss of diversity seems inevitable. There can legitimately be only one political and legal order in one place at a time (although there may be federal and local substructures). A supranational world state would mean the end of existing alternatives and competition between political and legal cultures. In other words, only a multiplicity of nation-states or fields of nation-states can guarantee the evolution of political and legal structures through recombination and selection of alternatives.

A superstate that effectively enforces common norms in the face of the conflicting interests of nation states is one of the most hopeful visions for world peace. Unfortunately, this view is inseparable from the paradox of uniqueness and efficiency. The more efficient a world state is, the more it destroys its own functional alternatives, that is, the environment of similar systems that must cooperate as a learning system to discover what the state's proper functions and boundaries are. Furthermore, even a diversity-oriented superstate runs the risk of favoring the wrong or too few alternatives when it comes to non-governmental functions and institutions. Finally, given the accumulation of regulatory power needed to manage world society, a superstate simply magnifies the risks associated with size and social power.

Is there a chance for niche societies to delude themselves to some extent, in contrast to the prevailing trends in world society towards a large super-society and an ever-decreasing range of technological and socio-cultural patterns within societies?

Niches at the level of social evolution do not just exist by nature or destiny; they can be produced through social effort. Undoubtedly, an effort is needed for niche companies to become a successful alternative to the supersociety. This effort must take into account the conditions mentioned at the beginning, under which niche systems arise, for these systems to be relevant from an evolutionary point of view. Niche societies must not be so small, powerless and niche-adapted that they are reduced to a museum preservation existence. They must be complex and open enough to engage in limited but fruitful exchanges with the supersociety.

Primitive societies may be so far removed from modern societies in this respect that they are not even the same species, as Giesen (1980) has argued. Consequently, the chances of finding niches increase.


Evolutionary importance increases with the complexity and power of societies. And niches cannot be found just within the borders of the nation-state or a confederation of states; The concept of changing niches presupposes the flexibility of changing coalitions. For example, there is a Euro-Arab niche in terms of solar energy development, but not in terms of shared religious pattern.

The concept of niche evolution at the societal level has its own paradox: it succeeds to the extent that niche systems are powerful enough to protect against global trends and offer complex alternatives to complex mainstream problems. Unfortunately, the success of niche systems also serves to reproduce the paradoxes of size, power, and evolution within niches.

But those are tomorrow's problems. The problem with current niche societies is the extreme difficulty of developing alternative techno-cultural and socio-cultural standards in the face of the dominant and homogenizing tendency to favor ruling societies. There seems to be a law of increasing inequality of power. Innovations brought from leading countries to the rest of the world reinforce the superiority of leading companies for three reasons.

1. Leading companies have superior resources in terms of resources, and therefore their own innovations and subsequent innovations are a competitive advantage.

2. Leading societies also have a competitive advantage in the sense that innovation is a product of their own society's culture, which is likely to encounter difficulties or "implementation costs" in other societies.

3. Leading societies have a power advantage in most cases: power is the opportunity to promote a solution over better solutions.

In this situation, the development of niche companies is not limited to creating countervailing power. It also marks a shift in competition in that niche companies reject global competition for the designs and solutions offered by leading companies. For the reasons just stated, accepting this competition would mean constantly widening and widening the power and well-being gap between the ruling societies and the rest of the world. The opportunity of the niche society does not lie in avoiding competition altogether, but in offering vicarious competition in the form of different sociocultural models as problem-solving tools. Niche companies want freedom to choose their competitive areas.

Ultimately, while most of us value pluralism and multiculturalism, we are reluctant to accept niche images.


Truly own companies. In Iran, fundamentalism is often interpreted as a counter-reaction to modernization processes that were implemented too quickly and rigorously. It is generally accepted that this represents a temporary obstacle to further modernization, but perhaps we should accept it as a valid and valuable sociocultural pattern in its own right.

In my opinion, the concept of niche evolution is a necessary theoretical and political complement to the prevailing concept of functional differentiation, culminating in the vision of a supersociety. It is true that the obstacles and resistance to the creation of niche companies are stronger than the forces in their favor. Any planned effort will hardly suffice if it is not supported by the silent working of the paradoxes I have discussed in this chapter, paradoxes that can be seen as the self-regulating mechanism of social systems and that ensure that "the trees do not grow 'to the sky'," as he puts it. a German proverb.


Blau, Peter M. 1977.Inequality and heterogeneity: an early theory of social structure. Nova York: Free Press.

Boulder, Kenneth E. 1978.Ecodynamics: a new theory of social evolution. Beverly Hills: Salbei.

German, Carlos. 1966The government's nerves. Nova York: Free Press.

Eigen, Manfred and Peter Schuster. 1979The hypercycle: a natural self-organizing principle. Berlin: Springer.

Giessen, Bernard. 1980Macrosociology: An Evolutionary Theoretical Introduction. Hamburg: Hoffman and Campe.

Hankiss, Elmer. 1985. The "Second Society": The Duplication of the Social Paradigm in Contemporary Societies: The Case of Hungary. Budapest Working Papers, Institute of Sociology, Hungarian Academy of Sciences.

Hofstadter, Douglas R. 1979.Gödel, Escher, Bach: An eternal golden braid. New York: Essential Books.

Klapp, Orin E. 1978.Opening and closing: strategies for adapting information in society. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Luard, Evan. 1976.Types of international society.. Nova York: Free Press.

Parsons, Talcott, 1966.Societies: Evolutionary and Comparative Perspectives. Englewood Cliffs, Nova Jersey: Prentice-Hall.

Simon, Herbert A. [1969] 1981.The artificial sciences. Cambridge: MIT Press.



External and internal factors in theories of social change

Neil J. Smelser

One of the hallmarks of human history at the end of the 20th century is the increasing internationalization of the world: in manufacturing, trade finance, technology, security threats, communications, research, education and culture. An important consequence of this trend is that the interpenetration of economic, political and social forces among the nations of the world is becoming increasingly apparent. And it may also be that nation-state governments are increasingly losing some degree of direct control over the global forces that influence them. For social scientists, the phenomenon of internationalization presents a conceptual challenge: rethinking the long-established assumption in our disciplines that the primary unit of analysis is the nation, society, or culture.

Given these circumstances, it may be useful to examine various theoretical strands in the study of social change over the past century to see how theorists have approached the problem of the relative importance of external and internal factors in genesis. Course of development and consequences of social change. This is what I propose in this chapter. I am examining these topics extensively and will not go into the theoretical details or empirical studies that have come out of them. One of my conclusions is that the history of social change theory over the last century has been something of an oscillation - perhaps even a dialectic - between theories that emphasize the endogenous and theories that emphasize the exogenous. At the end of the chapter, I return to the theme of increasing internationalization and offer an indication of the main dimensions involved in examining the internal and external forces of change.

First, I would like to clarify the use of the terms "external" and "internal" or "endogenous" and "exogenous". Some theorists use "external"


to refer to the non-social determinants of social change, determinants such as climate, resource availability, and biological forces. My usage is different. I use the term "external" to refer to the influences of the presence of other societies in the context of a given society, focusing on international, intersocietal and intercultural forces. By "internal" I mean the interrelationships of values, social structures, and institutionalized classes in a given society. With this outside-in distinction, however, I want to make clear that it cannot be seen as a fixed dichotomous distinction; Some of the most interesting questions that arise about the two types of forces are how they interact with each other and how the distinction sometimes breaks down when the two types of forces merge to create or block social change.

1. The starting point: the classical theory of evolution

The basic assumption of evolutionary theory, which dominated social thought in the last half of the nineteenth century, is the idea that civilization progressed through a series of stages from a backward state to an advanced state. The characteristics of the stages differ from one theorist to another - Comte, Maine, Bachofen, etc. - but the core idea of ​​progress informs them all. To distill the essential themes of this approach, I outline Lewis Henry Morgan's line of reasoning.old society([1877] 1963).

the subtitle ofold societyreveals its essence:Research along the lines of human progress from savagery through barbarism to civilization.. Like other evolutionists, Morgan saw human history as a progression through several stages. These stages form “a sequence of natural and necessary progress” ([1877] 1963, 3). The main defining characteristic of each stage is the type of inventions the society used to earn a living. Thus, the lower level of savagery extends from the rise of the human race to the time when man began to depend on fish for his livelihood; The middle stage of savagery began with the eating of fish and the use of fire and reached the upper stage of savagery with the invention of the bow and arrow. The analysis passes through three stages of barbarism similar to the state of civilization that began with the use of a written alphabet. In addition to technology, other institutions also gradually developed. In the age of savagery, government was organized into gentes or clans and "following the progressive forms of this institution until the establishment of political society" ([1877] 1963, 5). And a parallel story of progress is found in religion, architecture, property, kinship, and other institutions. At the


Indeed, most of Morgan's efforts were directed towards presenting evidence of "human progress... , 6).

For the purposes of this chapter, the characteristics of this type of theory are as follows:

1. The linearity and regularity of change across different stages.

2. The existence of an internal social mechanism (eg technology) that drives change.

3. The assumption of a functional fit in society so that different institutions are grouped consistently at each level and sub-level.

4. The lack of assumptions about any influence of one society on others. In fact, Morgan was not interested in societies, but in society as a whole.

5. The implicit condensation of comparative study and the study of social change. Other contemporary societies (for example, the aborigines of Australia or the tribal peoples of North America) are considered to be at an earlier stage of development compared to more advanced societies.

One interpretation of Marx's works is that his theory shares many of the foundations of classical evolutionary thinking. His thinking is characterized by a number of stages (Asian, feudal, capitalist, etc.) and there is a clear internal mechanism for moving from one stage to another. This mechanism, the emergence of economic and social contradictions, is obviously quite different from what others emphasize. In his work on the evolution of the family and the state, Engels ([1884] 1969) drew heavily on Morgan's evolutionary scheme. Elsewhere in Marx, as I will discuss later, we see evidence of his appreciation of the international dimension of economic forces.

2. Reactions to classic evolutionary thinking and new formulations

Classical evolutionary thinking is not chosen as a starting point for its theoretical sophistication or its empirical adequacy (indeed, it is one of the few identifiable traditions of thought that can be said to have been definitively discredited); it is chosen because of its intellectual dominance at the time and because its distinctive features set the agenda - the questions to be addressed - for much of the theoretical work on social change that has since emerged. This last point is seen most clearly across the range of theories of social change.


that emerged at the beginning of the 20th century. Consider the following figures:

2.1. diffusionism

The implication of a theory of evolution such as Morgan's is that a cultural element or institutional complex appears when a particular society is "ready" in terms of its evolutionary stage. The diffusionists' challenge to this view was to show that many cultural assets did not evolve independently in different cultures but were borrowed from abroad, sometimes over great geographical distances. Very careful studies were carried out showing how myths, calendars, clothing styles, corn growing and other objects traveled around the world in intricate ways. Kroeber (1923, 197-198) summarized the power of the diffusion principle as follows:

The vast majority of cultural elements have been learned by each nation from other races, past and present... even savages move house and acquire new neighbors. Sometimes they kidnap each other's wives and children. They remarry; and they almost always have some sort of business relationship with at least some of the surrounding towns...firstSo it was to be expected that diffusion would play a very important role in the formation of primitive and barbarian as well as advanced culture.

Viewed in terms of classical evolutionary thinking, diffusion theory represented both a polemic and a revision in three directions: first, in line with the positive boom of the early 1920s, it avoided empirical descriptions; second, he presented a fundamental critique of the linearity of evolutionists' conceptions of change, arguing that stages could be modified or even skipped during the borrowing and adoption process; and third, it explicitly introduced an intercultural dimension and showed that change was an imported product. That emphasis has survived to this day; appears in studies dealing with technology transfer.

But the emphasis on borrowing has led diffusionists to take a very narrow view of social change. Rarely did they ask why certain objects circulated and others did not, how objects were modified after being assimilated into a new cultural environment, or what new internal changes were stimulated by borrowed objects, although a theorist such as Lowie (1937) is aware that this was an expense. . In short, diffusionists have done little to examine the social system contexts of source or borrowed cultures. In particular, other types of intercultural or intersocial relationships


Influences on change, such as economic or political dominance, were almost completely absent from diffusionist theory.

2.2. classical functionalism

Classical functional anthropologists and sociologists shared with diffusionists the belief that evolutionary theory was speculative and ignored real history, but their main polemic was of a different nature about institutional elements in societies asking the wrong questions. Functionalists argued that it was not important to know the historical origin of any item; it tells us nothing about how the structure fits together and contributes to the ongoing life of society. It tells us little about the actual functions of the structure. Radcliffe-Brown formulated the functionalist argument in general terms as follows:

Individual people... are connected into a whole made up of a specific set of social relationships. the continuity ofsocial structurelike that of an organic structure, it is not destroyed by changes of unit. People can leave the company by death or otherwise; others can enter. The continuity of structure is maintained throughout the process of social life, which consists of the activities and interactions of individuals and the organized groups in which they are united. The social life of the community is defined here as theOccupationthe social structureOccupationEach recurrent action, such as the punishment of a crime or a funeral ceremony, is your role in society as a whole and therefore your contribution to maintaining structural continuity (1952, 180, my italics).

The criticism of the position of the functionalists from the point of view of the study of social change is well known. Due to their emphasis on stability, integration, and social balance, functionalists were not interested in theories of social change and lacked conceptual tools to analyze or develop such theories. (Radcliffe-Brown [1953, 395-97] claimed that this criticism was unwarranted because there is no reason why the functionalist approach should exclude the study of the growth of civilizations, any more than there is reason why physiology, the study of functional organisms, should excludes the study of embryology, paleontology and evolution). Also because of these activities, functionalists were less likely to study various types of conflict in society, particularly conflict as a powerful engine of change. The same considerations also reinforced the functionalists' focus on the internal relationships of culture and institutions in the life of a society. Outside influences played little or no role in his theory or empirical studies. Be that as it may, it may be instructive to label two theorists as functionalists.


Prerequisites: Ogburn and Malinowski. Both theorists were interested in processes of social change, and one of them, Malinowski, included both a conflict dimension and an international domination (colonialism) dimension in the framework.

Ogburn opposed the classical theory of evolution, asserting that "the inevitable series of stages in the development of social institutions has not only been unproven but disproved" (1922, 57). He further argued that the basis for refutation would be found in the hard facts of history and ethnography which show the evolutionists' generalizations to be wrong (1922, 66). Furthermore, any conclusion about evolution must be based not on Impressionist history and anthropology but on an examination of "the actual facts of early evolution" (1922, 66).

In place of the grand theories of evolution, Ogburn proposed a theory that was both positivist and functionalist. He was a positivist because he emphasized measurable facts and trends, avoided speculative theories that were not based on them, and insisted on theories of limited scope. He was a functionalist because he emphasized the systematic interrelationship of social institutions. Furthermore, Ogburn's theory discarded the functionalist theory of short-run equilibrium and replaced it with the notion of "cultural backwardness", summarized as follows:

Not all parts of our organization are changing at the same pace or at the same time. Some move quickly, while others lag behind. These uneven rates of change in business, government, education, science and religion create danger zones and tipping points. (Presidential Committee of Inquiry into Social Trends 1933, xiii)

Specifically, Ogburn argued that changes in "material culture" (technology and economic organization) forever outweigh changes in "adaptive culture" (religion, family, arts, law, and custom), and the consequences of this chronic lag are a parade of social changes. changes. problems and the danger of social disorganization.

Ogburn's formulation is instructive for the student of social change because it shows how removing a basic functionalist premise and replacing it with another allows Ogburn to develop a theory of social tensions or contradictions that is not entirely different from Marx's theory. Although it derives from a different set of first premises, it also includes the notion of a growing discrepancy and relationship between material and institutional forces. At the same time, Ogburn maintained the functionalist view that society is limited. While he acknowledges the international diffusion of technology, the dominant thrust of his theory is the internal consequences of social change and stability in societies.

Malinowski, one of the founders of classical functionalism and not


Best known for his contributions to social change theory, he focused on cultural change in his last posthumously published work (1945). The context of this work is intersocial and deals with the issue of cultural contact and change in African colonial societies. In his analysis, Malinowski maintained an assumption of the functionalist perspective, that is, that cultural characteristics cannot be studied in a dispersed and disjointed way because they accumulate in institutions that have interrelated material, legal and cultural elements. This assumption implies that changes occur in item patterns, not just individual items. At the same time, however, he cautioned against treating a colonial society as a "well-integrated whole"; it is a multiplicity of contrasting and contradictory cultural elements. Any notion of a well-integrated community in the contact situation "would ignore facts like the color bar, the permanent gap that separates the two patrons, keeping them apart in church and factory, in matters of mining and political influence". (1945, 15).

The first basis for instability in colonial societies is their political dominance, which refers to the "influence of a superior and active culture upon a simpler and passive one" (1945, 15). But this effect is not simply transferring Western prototypes or retaining African prototypes. Rather, it is a dynamic fusion of the two types in qualitatively new ways:

The concept of mechanical incorporation of elements from one culture into another does not take us beyond the initial preparatory stages, and even then it breaks down under more subtle analyses. What is really happening is an interplay of specific contact forces: rac