21 September 2009

Modernity: Definition and Features

What is modernity? What is its definition? What are its features? Again, from the Encyclopedia Britannica:

Modernisation is the transformation of society through the development of industry and technology, accompanied by far-reaching political and social changes.

A key feature of a modern society is its application of scientific knowledge to the production of goods and services, with an emphasis on maximising efficiency.

Modernisation affects all of society, including the economic, political and social systems. In the economic sphere, modernisation takes the form of industrialisation.

is necessary for the rise and maintenance of any modern society.

An orientation towards knowledge, technology and economy is basic to modern civilisation.

The three drivers of modernity are:
1. Experimental science
2. Scientific technology
3. Production-oriented economy

The economy ceases to be oriented mainly towards consumption and comes to place its main emphasis on production as its goal. This involves a shift towards production for further production, that is, capital investment.

The process of modernisation is a kind of permanent revolution, without any final goal. One can distinguish various phases of modernity, with the contemporary scene even offering glimpses of a "post-modern" one.

The superiority or desirability of modernity remains an open question.

20 September 2009

Modernity: Secularisation

A key feature of modernity is secularisation. From the Encyclopedia Britannica:

Secularisation consists of the following features:

1. Action by Choice
Prescribed actions are those in which an individual is expected to behave in a specific way. Actions by choice are those in which the individual selects his own course of action, and is obliged only to observe certain general rules in making his choice. In traditional societies, most actions are prescribed actions. In modern societies, most actions are actions by choice. Example: choosing one's profession or spouse.

2. Acceptance of Change
Pre-modern societies do not accept change in most of their institutions. In modern societies, change is expected or required. Pre-modern societies institutionalise tradition. Modern societies institutionalise change.

3. Differentiation of Institutions
Societies vary in the number and nature of the institutions devoted to carrying on essential functions such as the provision of goods and services, defence against military attack, education, religion, etc. Pre-modern civilisations show a considerable differentiation of institutions, but these involve only a tiny minority of the population, such as priests, warriors and traders. All institutions in the traditional society are dominated by the same values and norms.

In modern society, the differentiation of institutions and social division of labour proceed almost without limit. The institutions become more and more autonomous. All human activities are fragmented by increasing specialisation.

Increasing secularisation leads away from a single system of values toward pluralism in values. Such pluralism tends to erode the very foundation of an integrated social system: its common core of shared values and norms.

16 September 2009

Swapan Dasgupta on Modernity (Vs Hindutva)

Swapan Dasgupta says the BJP must dump Hindutva and embrace modernity instead. He seems to be obsessed with modernity. Check out for yourself:

In short, the BJP must embrace modernity, be in a position to re-forge meaningful alliances and relegate identity politics to the backburner. (August 2009)

If India is changing and the RSS has already said that it is open to change, in that case the BJP has the duty to uphold modernity keeping in mind some of the basic fundamentals. (August 2009)

Former prime minister and BJP patriarch Atal Bihari Vajpayee represented modernity in a traditional idiom. (Ditto)

It reveals an unfortunate streak of adventurism that deflects attention from the more urgent business at hand: forging an enlightened nationalist agenda centred on security, growth, modernity and good governance. (June 2009)

Enlightened nationalism, good governance and modernity must become the party's (the BJP's) priorities. (June 2009)

Enlightened nationalism and modernity should become the two defining attributes of the BJP. (May 2009)

Yet, it is undeniable that the crucial swing votes which enabled the Congress to win more than 200 seats on its own came from two sections that are in the frontline of change and modernity: the middle classes and the youth. (May 2009)

The BJP leadership is seen as completely unresponsive to youth aspirations and modernity. (May 2009)

Narendra Modi became a passionate advocate of modernity and efficient governance. (April 2009)

The issue that is foremost in the mind of the RSS - which Bhagwat alluded to in his first public address after assuming charge - is the challenge of "modernity". (March 2009)

India has wholeheartedly embraced modern technology; it is wary of the cultural baggage that comes with modernity. (February 2009)

Tragically, this impatience with extremism has been misread by the Facebook brigade as thumbs-up for elevating the pub and pub-going women into symbols of Indian modernity. (Ditto)

It is a fitting rebuff to the mindset that deems Omar Abdullah's eloquent insensitivity in the Lok Sabha an iconic assertion of cosmopolitan modernity. (August 2008)

His (Narendra Modi's) opponents on the ground naturally include all those who are either disconcerted by or feel left out by this rush towards entrepreneurial modernity. (December 2007)

This disconcerting facet of modernity* appears to have escaped the Bharatiya Janata Party president, L K Advani. (June 2005)
*an electorate that lives for the present and dreams of the future

Today, the BJP is confronted with a stark choice: transforming defeat into defeatism or settling for ideological honesty and a touch of modernity. (August 2004)

Yes, 2004. Dr Dasgupta has been giving this advice for the last 5 years.