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Modernity, in its sociological usage, generally refers to the social and cultural characteristics describing the period of history in the West since the 17th and 18th centuries. Typically, modernity is described in terms of contrast between the modern period and the feudal era that preceded it, especially in terms of changing capacity for understanding, harnessing, and transforming the nonhuman world.

Although there have been dramatic improvements since the feudal era, most sociological discussion and analysis has focused on the negative aspects of modernity. Scholars have raised many issues in their attempts to characterize modernity. Some of the more common characteristics of modernity include: the replacement of religion by science as the major social institution establishing truth; rapid social, economic, and political change; the nation state; global ...

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