Modernity and Its Contradictions
- Feyzi BabanFeyzi BabanDepartment of International Development Studies, Trent University
Sixteenth-century Europe saw the emergence of a modern project that soon spread to other parts of the globe through conquest, colonization and imperialism, and finally globalization. In its historical development, modernity has radically remade the institutional and organizational structures of many traditional societies worldwide. It followed two distinct trajectories: the transformation of traditional societies within Western cultures, on the one hand, and the implementation of modernity in non-Western cultures, on the other. The emergence and development of modernity can be explained using three interrelated domains: ideology, politics, and economy. Enlightenment thinking constituted the ideological background of modernity, while the rise of individualism and the secularization of political power reflected its political dimension. The economic dimension of modernity involved the massive mobility of people into cities and the emergence of a market economy through the commercialization of human labor, along with production for profit. The recent phase of globalization has led to new developments that exposed the contradictions of modernity and forced us to rethink its fundamental assumptions. Two approaches that have attempted to redefine the universality in modern thinking and its relationship with particular cultures are the institutional cosmopolitanism approach and the multiple modernities approach; the latter rejects the universality of Western modernity and instead sees modernity as a distinctly local phenomenon. Future research should focus on how different cultures relate to one another within the boundaries of global modernity, along with the conditions under which local forms of modernity emerge.