REFLEXIVE MODERNIZATION [IN SUMMARY]

22 Apr

A Theory of Mind to Counter-balance the thrice removed reality that is real insofar as it is a wide spread ideology–postmodernity.
I found this article interesting, and open-minded in the discourse of discursive theory of knowledge.
The extract below is taken from:

Ulrich Beck, Anthony Giddens and Scott Lash. REFLEXIVE MODERNIZATION:Politics, Tradition and Aesthetics in the Modern Social Order. Stanford CA: Stanford University Press, 1994. Ursinus College Library: 303.49/B388

Traditions of family and sexual identity and the apparent traditionalism of modern science, however, weakened under the pressure of globalization and a new impulse to “excavate” the traditional contexts of action in reflexive maneuvers. The result was not the destruction of tradition but the persistence of disembedded “traditions” in two reflexively conscious ways. Old traditions either acquired new value in (1) a plurality of values or they transformed into aggressive forms of (2) fundamentalism. These forms of fundamentalism depended on the assertion of formulaic truths and the rejection of debate, regardless of social consequences.

In addition to these far-reaching changes in the categories of tradition, reflexive modernization has redefined the relationship between objective nature and human society. Nature no longer stands apart from society. Human beings in high modernization succeeded in processing all of nature, or at least in setting the terms for completing that project. Henceforth, ecology is not an issue about nature apart from society. Human values now decide ecological issues. These values tend to be rationally based and debated. But sometimes they become “eco-fundamentalisms.” Eco-fundamentalists assert formulaic truths about “nature” that brook no debate (e.g., creationist science and opposition to the theory of evolution).

Reflexive modernization is disorganizing the familiar structures of politics and capitalism. Autonomy, decentralization, flexibility, and dialogue now mean more to people in those structures than dependency, centralization, rigid organization, and top-down communication. People tend to turn away from these older characteristics of high modernism.

Critical analysts are beginning to think preliminarily about tools for operating the new human order in the conditions of reflexive modernization. It may be possible for people in the West (and elsewhere) to begin to prize values other than the economic prosperity that tops the concerns of high modernization. Giddens talks about a “post-scarcity order”—not because he envisions the end of scarcity but because values other than economic scarcity and abundance may take precedence. However the society operates and however individuals define themselves, reflexive modernization will operate with information and communication structures that replace high modern social structures. Cognitive ethics derived from logical analysis will yield to aestheticized ethics derived from hermeneutic interpretation. The isolated individual of high modernization will be resituated in affinity groups. He and she will enmesh themselves in everyday social practices that make up a culture; they will participate in a “hermeneutics of retrieval” of social practice and individual identification.

To repeat, the fundamental insight is that reflexive modernization represents an historic shift in the direction of energy in Western capitalist society. Western energy in high modernization flowed forward and outward, reshaping and changing the natural world and detraditionalizing human society. Now, that same energy turns and flows backward onto the “modernized” world itself. This results in a continuously remade human situation that profoundly alters politics, society, and the individual. It calls for radically new ways of managing the processes of civilization and for defining the self.

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