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Modernity and Classical Sociology Theory Essay

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Paul de Man once said, “Modernity exists in the form of a desire to wipe out whatever came earlier, in the hope of reaching at least a point that could be called a true present, a point of origin that marks a new departure.” But what is he really trying to say? Modernity takes out the old and brings in the new, continually upgrading to something else? Modernity appears as a concept of change. It most commonly refers to the social conditions, processes, and discourses resulting from the Age of Enlightenment. The concept of modernity captures the progress of societies, from primitive civilizations, which evolved gradually through discrete stages, reaching a modern age characterized by industrialization and capitalism, concluding in the current, post-modern state of globalization which shapes contemporary society with ever increasing coercion. Modernity can be placed into many different time periods. There are two, however, that are the most relevant: Early modernity and Classical modernity. Early modernity consisted of theorists such as Immanuel Kant, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Adam Smith and Alexis de Tocqueville. Classical modernity consisted of theorists such as Karl Marx, Emile Durkheim, and Max Weber. Many theorists have defined their own form of “modernity” which will be discussed throughout this paper.
Karl Marx focused on Capitalism and the rise of social conflict as the basis of modernity. Marx felt that capitalism through industrialization had increased the productive capability of the economy. Nevertheless, he also felt that capitalism produced two opposing classes of people. The first class, who owned and controlled the means of production and hired laborers, were known as the Bourgeoisie. The second class, who were com...


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...s modernity. He saw socialism as even more malicious than capitalism. He thought that alienating bureaucracies would gain even more control over people. Durkheim had an optimistic view towards modernity. He predicted more freedom for individuals which were ideal for individuals within societies. However, he was concerned about the risks of anomie, or a condition in which society provides little moral guidance to individuals.
In conclusion, the world is constantly changing, both for the good and the bad. Whether or not modernity is to blame is not something that can be easily understood. Modernity is seen by many different people in many different ways. Premodern societies have unmistakable transformed due to underlining circumstances forced out by modernity, leaving a new modern era of society for which people must explore and search for new meaning of society.



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