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Modernity As Experience And As Interpretation: Towards Something Like A Cultural Turn In The Sociology Of “Modern Society”

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Chapter Summary

The social sciences of the early post-Second World War decades worked with the assumption that contemporary Western societies, called 'modern societies', had emerged from earlier social configurations by way of a profound rupture. With 'modernity', thus, sociology proposes a key concept for understanding socio-historical development, but oddly makes this concept refer to only a single and unique experience. In sum, the social sciences have long theorized 'modernity', as the attempt to grasp the specificity of the present, even though the term 'modernity' has been used only rather recently. The European experience of a different American modernity, thus, opens the space for an understanding of 'varieties of modernity'. A recent analysis of the transformations of the European development policy discourse towards the African, Caribbean and Pacific countries reveals significant shifts in the self-understanding of European development policy over the past three decades.

Keywords: European development policy; modern societies; modernity; Second World War; social sciences; sociology



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