Understanding Contemporary Society: Theories of the Present is a comprehensive textbook to guide students through the complexities of social theory today. Over 30 chapters, written by an international team of contributors, demonstrate clearly the practical applications of social theory in making sense of the modern world. Students are both introduced to the most significant theories and guided through the major social developments which shape our lives. Key features of the book are: clearly structured and readable prose; bullet pointed summaries and annotated further reading for each topic; makes complex issues accessible to undergraduates; focuses on relevance and practicality; chapter lay-out which is ideal for t

Reflexive Modernization

Reflexive modernization

Social theorists are prone to see world-historical significance in the key events of their own lifetimes. In our time, the theorists of ‘post-modernity’ are the most obvious examples of this. There are others, however, who acknowledge the importance of many of the changes described by the postmodernists, but see them as symptoms of transformations within ‘modernity’, rather than as marking the emergence of a wholly new historical epoch. These theorists have advanced the idea of ‘reflexive modernization’ to characterize this new phase of ‘modernity’. The best-known advocates of this notion of reflexive modernization are Ulrich Beck (born 1944) and Anthony Giddens (born 1938).

According to these theorists, the major sources of social and political identity and conflict which characterized earlier phases of ‘modernity’ are ...

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